Minnesota Timberwolves: Takeaways from Wolves loss vs. Mavs

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 11: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks dribbles the ball while Josh Okogie #20 of the Minnesota Timberwolves defends. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JANUARY 11: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks dribbles the ball while Josh Okogie #20 of the Minnesota Timberwolves defends. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves had a chance to achieve just their second four-game winning streak of the season on Friday night against the Mavericks, but instead they lost a heart-breaker.

Ryan Saunders’ first home game as head coach did not quite go according to plan as the Minnesota Timberwolves lost to the Mavericks by a final score of 119-115 on Friday night at Target Center.

After an emotional and exciting win over the Thunder in Oklahoma City on Tuesday and enjoying two consecutive days off, the Minnesota Timberwolves fell behind by double-digits early in the second quarter and trailed by 11 at halftime to the Dallas Mavericks, who with their win have drawn even with the Wolves in the Western Conference standings.

The Wolves came back with a vengeance in the third quarter and tied the game, but a pair of well-timed timeouts from Mavs coach Rick Carlisle stemmed the tide, and the Mavs quickly rebuilt a double-digit lead.

It took until late in the fourth quarter for the Wolves to draw even again, even finally taking a lead in the final minutes.

Karl-Anthony Towns and Mavs rookie Luka Doncic traded blows with Jeff Teague, Derrick Rose, and Taj Gibson all scoring big baskets for the Wolves down the stretch. After a Gibson tip-in gave the home team a one-point lead with 35.7 seconds remaining, he stole an inbounds pass from Doncic and head-manned the ball ahead to Josh Okogie.

Okogie never controlled the ball entirely, and while trying to save it from going out of bounds threw a blind pass directly DeAndre Jordan. With Okogie flying into the crowd, Doncic came down and hit a 3-pointer that gave Dallas a two-point lead with 23.9 seconds left.

After a timeout, both Dario Saric and Rose had the opportunity to shoot wide-open 3-pointers to give the Wolves the lead, but both turned the shots down. Rose dribbled into the lane to make a play but instead turned it over trying to force the ball to Towns.

The Mavs retained possession after a foul on Towns, and Harrison Barnes knocked down two free throws to more or less ice the game.

The Wolves actually played well overall, but had an inordinate number of shots rim in and out and missed several shots in the paint. It was somewhat of a fluky game, all things considered, and a tough loss to stomach against a team the Wolves will likely be jockeying with for position in the West for the rest of the season.

Player of the Game

Luka Doncic: 29 points (10-23 FG, 2-9 3P, 7-10 FT), 12 assists, 8 rebounds, 2 steals

Doncic had a good game, and if you hadn’t watched him play yet this season, then let this performance serve as a microcsm of his season and his Rookie of the Year candidacy.

While Doncic wasn’t overly efficient and was stopped in his tracks by Derrick Rose when he took him on one-on-one late in the game, he still knocked down what turned out to be the game-winning shot and nearly ended up with a triple-double.

Notable Timberwolves Box Score Lines

  •  Karl-Anthony Towns: 30 points (12-21 FG, 1-3 3P, 5-5 FT), 11 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 assists
  • Derrick Rose: 21 points (8-16 FG, 3-5 3P, 2-2 FT), 5 assists, 3 rebounds, one block
  • Andrew Wiggins: 17 points (7-17 FG, 1-2 3P, 2-2 FT), 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, one steal
  • Josh Okogie: 15 points (5-8 FG, 4-6 3P, 1-2 FT), 2 rebounds, one assist, one steal

The Timberwolves somehow only attempted 13 free throws on the evening while the Mavericks shot 24. The officiating was questionable, although the Wolve didn’t do a great job of getting into the paint throughout the game, either.

Towns was great, and outside of a brief exit due to a minor ankle injury in the first half and picking up his fourth foul early in the third quarter, Towns had an extremely effective 30 minutes.

Rose was awesome as well, outside of turning down a wide-open, potentially game-winning 3-pointer. Wiggins and Okogie were both solid, and Okogie’s three 3-pointers in the third quarter as the Wolves made their first comeback were vital.

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What’s Next?

The Timberwolves remain at home and host the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night in their first back-to-back set in a few weeks.