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sports Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

FRIDAY: MAVERICKS (3-2) AT MINNESOTA (3-2), 7 P.M. (FSN)

Looking to shake a two-game losing streak that has brought them back to Earth after a 3-0 start, the Minnesota Timberwolves host the Dallas Mavericks on Friday. The Timberwolves fell at home on Wednesday to Golden State 106-93 in a performance that lacked consistency and mirrored the early part of their season. “Our defense has been what has helped us the first four games,” forward Kevin Love told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “In this fifth one, it just didn’t.”

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Minnesota allowed 56 second-half points to the Warriors and will be challenged by a Mavericks’ team ranked among the league’s offensive leaders, averaging 110 points per game through five contests. Dallas has yet to win on the road and lost Wednesday in Oklahoma City, 107-93 to the Thunder, and done in by 21 turnovers. Guard Monta Ellis, who led the Mavericks with 20 points against Oklahoma City, also had a game-high seven turnovers, giving him 22 on the year behind only Houston’s James Harden.

ABOUT THE MAVERICKS: Ellis is in his first season with Dallas after signing as a free agent this summer and leads the Mavericks - and ranks among the league’s Top 10 - by averaging 24 points. His team-first approach has impressed owner Mark Cuban, who told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “The guy wants to win. He doesn’t care about numbers. He wants to win.” Forward Dirk Nowitzki, whose 17.3 points per game last season was his lowest output since 1999-00, has averaged 19.4 points through the first five.

ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES: Love, who ranks second in the NBA, averaging 26.2 points, saw the matchup with the Warriors as an early season measuring stick, saying, “I thought defensively, it was going to show where we are.” Minnesota allowed Golden State to shoot 50 percent in the loss. Guard Kevin Martin is just behind Love as the Timberwolves second leading scorer, averaging 21.6 in his first five games in Minnesota.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The teams split the season series last year, winning two games apiece.

2. Dallas could be without SG Vince Carter, who is subject to secondary discipline after being assessed a flagrant 2 foul and an automatic ejection for elbowing Thunder C Steven Adams in the head.

3. Minnesota PG Ricky Rubio’s 8.6 assists per game ranked fifth in the league heading into Thursday’s action.

PREDICTION: Timberwolves 104, Mavericks 100

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