Timberwolves hold Luka Doncic in check, still lose to Mavericks

DALLAS, TEXAS - DECEMBER 04: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TEXAS - DECEMBER 04: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves executed their game plan to perfection on Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic but still managed to lose on Wednesday night.

114. 86. 121. 79. Final

The Minnesota Timberwolves entered Wednesday night’s game in Dallas with the tall task of trying to hold superstar and early MVP candidate Luka Doncic in check.

For the most part, the Wolves’ plan of attaching Josh Okogie to Doncic’s hip worked. Doncic scored 22 points on 8-of-22 shooting, and although he did add seven rebounds and six assists, he also turned the ball over five times and was a team-worst -16 on the night.

What the Wolves didn’t plan on was Dwight Powell dropping 24 points on only nine shots and Jalen Brunson coming off the bench for 16 points in 18 minutes.

The game was all Mavs early, as Dallas built a 13-point lead midway through the second quarter. A late push from the Wolves gave them a three-point halftime lead, however, and the visitors actually expanded their lead to as many as 11 points in the third quarter before Dallas fought back.

Minnesota re-built their lead to four at the start of the fourth quarter, but the Mavericks’ bench completely outplayed the Wolves’ reserve unit and was able to grab the lead back while Doncic was resting on the bench.

Jeff Teague could not do anything to hold Brunson and Delon Wright in check, and Powell was suddenly unstoppable rolling to the rim. An avalanche of 3-pointers and dunks propelled the Mavs back into the lead for good, and a late flurry from Andrew Wiggins and Robert Covington simply wasn’t enough to overcome a multi-possession deficit down the stretch.

Wolves’ Star of the Game

Robert Covington: 22 points (8-13 FG, 6-10 3P), 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal

Covington finally had a breakout game from beyond the arc, draining 60 percent of his attempts. At least four of them were from 25 feet or farther, and he finally looked like the confident Covington that Wolves fans grew to love over his short healthy stint with the team last season.

The runner-up for this award was Towns, who finished with 26 points (10-19 FG, 3-5 3P, 3-4 FT), nine rebounds, and seven assists with only two turnovers. He was masterful in finding cutters and open players on the perimeter, and simply struggled a bit with his efficiency around the rim.

Notable Stats

  • The Wolves managed to out-shoot the Mavs from deep. Minnesota was 17-of-38 (44.7 percent) while Dallas shot just 11-for-37 (29.7 percent). The Mavericks came into the game No. 8 in the NBA in team 3-point percentage while the Wolves came in No. 28 in the league.
  • Dallas’ entire bench unit came away with positive individual plus-minus numbers, while all of their starters had negative marks.
  • Minnesota’s bench struggled mightily once again as Ryan Saunders continues to work through bringing both of his natural point guards, Teague and Shabazz Napier, off the bench while allowing Wiggins and Jarrett Culver take turns initiating the first-team offense.

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Next Up

The Wolves head up I-35 to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night at 7 p.m. CT.