Final: Mavs 119, Timberwolves 115

  • Luka Doncic did not achieve the triple-double that seemed very likely at halftime, but he accomplished something else a little more special: a complete takeover down the stretch. Doncic checked back in midway through the fourth quarter with Dallas ahead 102-92. Then began one of the most extraordinary scoring runs you will ever see a team go on, as a Derrick Rose 3-pointer launched a prolonged stretch in which the Wolves would score on 11 straight possessions. The Wolves turned possession into points every single trip down the floor from the 6:07 mark of the fourth quarter until there were just 30 seconds left in the game. It’s impressive that the Mavericks were still able to pull out the win after such an extended run of shot-making.

    Doncic had a whole lot to do with it. The rookie responded to Rose’s initial 3-pointer, and the Wolves’ ensuing buckets, by scoring or assisting on the Mavs’ next 15 points, including three go-ahead shots inside the final two minutes.

    We’ve seen the 19-year-old do plenty of amazing things already in his short career, but he continues to amaze us. It was fitting, as well, that such a heroic crunch-time performance would come in his 41st career game. This was some of his best work, and while he clearly didn’t do it alone — without Harrison Barnes going to the ground to collect a loose ball in the game’s closing seconds, the Mavs might not have even won — Doncic reminded us all why he’s already become one of the best clutch performers in the league. And there’s this, too: He became the youngest player ever to score 29 points, hand out 12 assists, grab eight rebounds, and steal the ball twice in the same game. He might not have scored a triple-double, but he still made a bit of history, and the win probably doesn’t feel too bad either.

  • Jalen Brunson hit a career-high three 3-pointers, Maxi Kleber tied his season-high with 13 points, Dwight Powell tied for his highest-scoring outing in more than a month, and Barnes piled up more points tonight than he has in any game in 2019. Doncic is going to get all the headlines, but this was a team win. The Mavs received contributions at times from some of the most unlikely players, too — Brunson, for example, had been shooting just 27.6 percent from beyond the arc this season before tonight, but the rookie sank all three of his attempts and now suddenly is 9 out of his last 18 from deep. Kleber, meanwhile, has made five 3s in his last two games, both as a starter. Will those guys continue making more than half of their 3-pointers? Who knows. But more important than who makes them is the necessity for someone to make them, and in this game it was the “other” guys. On a night when Doncic, Wesley Matthews, and Dirk Nowitzki combined to shoot just 2 of 17 from deep, the Mavs’ shooting should have suffered. But it didn’t, as everyone else shot a combined 11 of 21. That’s how teams win.

  • The Mavericks racked up 25 assists against just seven turnovers. It’s the fourth time they’ve reached the 25-dime plateau in the last month. As the team has gone through a long stretch of tough opponents and plenty of road games, the assists have fallen off while the turnovers have picked up. But, all things considered, this was an extremely clean game — the most mistake-free Dallas has played all season, as a matter of fact. Interestingly enough, the Mavs had lost all four previous games in which they gave it away fewer than 10 times, which goes against basketball conventional wisdom. I don’t know how that’s even possible, but it is. That’s certainly a good trend to buck, and hopefully the Mavs continue to do in upcoming games, beginning this Sunday against Golden State. Turnovers have been a significant issue for most of the season, and tonight we were exposed to how smoothly this offense can hum when the club can keep the mistakes down.

  • J.J. Barea took an awkward fall in the fourth quarter and immediately grabbed his lower right leg. After staying on the floor momentarily, he got up and began to walk toward the bench, but then went back to the ground. He was then helped off the floor and to the locker room by Devin Harris and Mavs trainer Casey Smith. It was an emotional scene. Rick Carlisle said Barea will have an MRI tomorrow. There’s no need for speculation until then, but hopefully Barea receives some good news tomorrow.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (20-22) will return home for a game against the Warriors on Sunday. Tipoff is at 6 p.m.

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