On Monday night in Dallas, the Minnesota Timberwolves lost their fifth consecutive game, this time falling to Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks by 16.
The Minnesota Timberwolves were largely held at arm's length by one of the league's most improved teams on Monday night, as the Wolves defense was simply no match for Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.
It was yet another game that showcased the potential of what should be a high-octane, dynamic offense and a defense that has been the league's worst since the trade deadline.
The Mavericks simply put Doncic in pick-and-roll situations consistently and reaped the benefits. The 20-year-old All-Star's combination of size and athleticism was on full display en route to 20 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Josh Okogie drew the tough assignment early in the game and did okay, but Doncic's physicality and length gave even the Wolves' best defender fits.
Minnesota's offense nearly went toe-to-toe with the Mavs early, although a late first-quarter push by the home team put Dallas up by a 41-27 margin at the end of the frame. Malik Beasley and D'Angelo Russell both got hot in the second quarter and allowed the Wolves to put up 38 points, but the gave up a 40-point quarter to Dallas.
The Wolves fought back to within 11 points in the third quarter after having trailed by as many as 21, but the Mavericks surged back ahead and kept things at a comfortable, double-digit margin the rest of the way.
Defense and rebounding were once again major issues for the Wolves, and while the offense was good, it won't matter if the team gives up 140 points each night.
Jarrett Culver added 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting and six rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench. He missed a couple of makeable shots near the rim and struggled at the free throw line, per usual, making four of his seven attempts there as well.
Jake Layman made his return after missing 41 games with an injured toe and was solid, putting up five points on 2-of-7 shooting and grabbing three rebounds. He had an impressive dunk on a nice cut, receiving a dime from Russell. He did miss the free throw, however, and shot only 1-of-4 from 3-point range.
Jordan McLaughlin's minutes went all the way down to 13 in Russell's return to the lineup. J-Mac scored five points and contributed one assist, one steal, and one rebound.
The Timberwolves head to South Beach to take on the Miami Heat on Wednesday. The game tips at 6:30 p.m. CT.