MINNEAPOLIS – If the Dallas Mavericks were handing out game balls after Sunday’s 111-91 runaway triumph over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the first would unquestionably go to Kristaps Porzingis.
Not only did Porzingis score 38 points and grab 13 rebounds, but he also blocked five shots and converted six 3-pointers. The 7-3 center remains the only player in NBA history with at least 35 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and five 3-pointers in a game.
Porzingis also put up those staggering numbers against the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 12. Now, the Timberwolves felt his wrath in a game that increased the Mavs’ record to 37-24 overall and 2-1 on this four-game road trip that concludes Monday in Chicago.
“Porzingis played a spectacular game,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “The 38 points tells about a quarter of the story of what he did in this game. Defensively, he was phenomenal. Changing shots, blocking shots, rebounding the ball, deflecting (shots), saving balls. It was a defensive clinic.”
Porzingis was 13-of-25 from the field and 6-of-14 from beyond the 3-point arc while falling just two points shy of his career high of 40 points which he had in 2017 against Indiana while he was playing for the New York Knicks.
“Honestly, I don’t even feel like I shot the ball that well,” Porzingis said. “This game has a little bit like a bittersweet feeling in it for me.
“I’m happy for the win obviously, but I feel like I missed so many good looks, I could have made it even easier for ourselves. But overall a good game for us, we were able to maintain the lead, (didn’t) let them (get) too close.”
The Mavs played without All-Star point guard Luka Doncic, who is hampered by the sprained left thumb injury he sustained Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs in the opener of this trip. But as they’ve proven in the past, the Mavs had enough firepower to overcome the Timberwolves with Doncic on the bench in street clothes.
Porzingis helped the Mavs to a 63-44 lead with 22 first-half points, and Dallas was able to breeze past the Timberwolves with very few problems.
“I’m just shooting the ball when I’m open,” Porzingis said. “I‘m just playing my game. I’m not really complicating stuff.
“I’m just finding my rhythm within the game and I felt like the first half was kind of super easy to me. If I got the ball and the help came, I kicked it to Seth (Curry), and it was just like fluid for us and easy. And that’s how I like to play. Whoever is open, we hit the guy and we have shooters all around, guys who can make plays.”
Curry is playing some of the best basketball of his career. After scoring a career-high 37 points while converting 13-of-15 shots in Friday’s game in Miami, he followed that by ringing up 27 points on 11-of-17 shots against Minnesota.
It’s the first time in his career Curry has scored at least 25 points in consecutive games.
“The last few years I’ve been playing my best after the All-Star break, so hopefully I can keep it going and hopefully keep getting a lot of wins,” Curry said. “You want to find some shots, but I’m not the type that just force shots.
“I don’t want to ruin a good night by putting up two or three bad shots and I’m out of my rhythm. It’s just about (taking) what the defense gives you, and if I get a lot of attention just make a play for somebody else.”
Dallas led by as much as 26 points (70-44) after Porzingis fired in a 3-pointer and assisted on a basket to Delon Wright early in third quarter. The Timberwolves (17-42) whittled the deficit down to 13.
But the Mavs turned up the heat again and cruised to the winner’s circle, with Tim Hardaway Jr. collecting 19 points and Dorian Finney-Smith adding nine points, 11 rebounds and two steals.
“We played with a lot of pace on offense and we got stops and we protected the rim,” Curry said. “The guys did a great job of switching their defense. Everybody who came in kept the same pace offensively, which is good.”
Carlisle marveled at the way his team played after limiting the Timberwolves to just 36.4 percent shooting.
“I thought our effort was terrific from start to finish,” Carlisle said. “Defensively, we were solid, holding this team to 91 with what they’ve been doing is a really good effort.”
And after Porzingis scored 38 points for the second time in the last 10 games after having only two of those high-octane production games in his previous 222 games, Carlisle just shook his head in amazement.
“This is a picture of what the future of the (center) position quintessentially is going to look like,” he said. “It’s going to be a guy with great length, can shoot long range, can drive it, can pass it, can protect the rim, can rebound, and knows how to play the game.
“You stack it all up, this guy is a great young player.”