It was oddly surprising that Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle didn’t issue out an Amber Alert for his team’s defense during the first part of Wednesday’s game against the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves. In the end, the Timberwolves reminded the West that they were still very much in the playoff hunt as they barely silenced the home team 123-122 in a gripping overtime victory.
“Gripping” might not be the word one would use when viewing the first half of the matchup, unless they were talking about the grip that Carlisle most likely had around his players’ necks in the privacy of Dallas’ locker room during halftime. Minnesota (34-32) outmatched Dallas during the first in terms of energy and ball movement, and simply was more dominatingly gritty on the court as they closed the quarter 37-24. The second quarter looked to lean in favor of the Mavs, who managed to dismantle a 22-point lead by going on a 24-5 run, eventually ending the second quarter trailing 59-66. Even Vince Carter added to the excitement by nailing a three-pointer at the buzzer to close the half, bringing the briefly lackluster American Airlines Center crowd to their feet.
The Timberwolves (who are 5.5 games behind the Mavericks in the Western Conference) learned fairly quickly that the Mavericks wouldn’t go down without a fight, especially in the last 12 minutes of the game. It was Monta Ellis who put Dallas up 113-111 (which was the first Mavs lead since the opening minutes of the first quarter) with three consecutive three-pointers, only to be matched by Ricky Rubio’s pair of free throws for the tie. Missed shots by Dirk Nowitzki on Dallas’ end, and Kevin Martin and Robbie Hummel on Minnesota’s, would result in pushing the game into OT.
While Dallas would take the lead 120-115 during the opening of overtime, they wavered by fouling Kevin Love in three-point territory. He would make all three free throws before letting loose a final one-handed, go-ahead basket with 17.1 left, the points that would be the final nail in the Mavs’ coffin.
Kevin Love finished with 35 points while teammate Ricky Rubio added 22 and ended up recording his third career triple-double. Dallas’ leading scorers were Nowitzki with 27, Ellis with 22 (which included 15 in the fourth and overtime), and Shawn Marion with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
The Mavericks look to recover lost ground this Friday against the visiting Denver Nuggets, while the Timberwolves look to take on the Houston Rockets on Thursday.