Mavericks fight off Timberwolves
By Jon Krawczynski, AP Basketball Writer
MINNEAPOLIS — Shawn Marion scored 32 points and hit two huge 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to help the Dallas Mavericks withstand a furious second-half charge from the Minnesota Timberwolves in a 100-98 victory Monday night.
Dirk Nowitzki had 16 points for the Mavericks, who led by 19 late in the first half before the Wolves came back.
Kevin Love had 36 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, and his 3-pointer 90 seconds into the fourth quarter gave the Wolves an 86-85 lead. They led 90-87 midway through the period, but Marion hit two 3-pointers during a 10-0 run to put the Mavericks back in front.
Love had a shot to win it on the last possession, but Marion knocked his shot out of bounds. Love thought he was fouled, and replays appeared to support him. But no whistle was blown.
Love stood watching the scoreboard in disbelief, and the Mavericks walked off the court winners against the Wolves for the first time in three tries this season thanks in large part to a throwback performance from Marion.
He made 14 of 19 shots and also had six rebounds and three assists. He topped 30 points for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
Nowitzki hit a baseline jumper during the deciding run, with the original “Stretch 4” finding a way to best the newest, latest version in Love.
After the Timberwolves were down 17 at halftime, Love shot 6 of 8 in the third quarter and the Wolves outscored Dallas 38-21 to tie the game heading into the fourth.
But Minnesota coach Rick Adelman might have stuck with a struggling J.J. Barea too long in the final period. Rather than going back to Ricky Rubio during a timeout with just more than 5:30 to play, Adelman kept Barea, who had five turnovers in 17 minutes, on the floor.
That’s when Marion hit two of his four 3s for a 97-90 lead.
The Wolves had beaten the Mavericks soundly in the first two meetings of the season, so Dallas came in with some extra motivation. And the Wolves’ woeful defense did little to deter the Mavericks.
Minnesota has the worst field goal percentage defense in the NBA, and the Mavericks got whatever they wanted. They scored in the paint at will, piling up the transition buckets and riding a strong start from Marion to a 17-point halftime lead.
Dallas shot 60 percent in the first half and scored 34 of its 62 points in the paint, with Love, Nikola Pekovic and the rest of the Wolves defense just letting the Mavericks parade to the rim.
Marion scored 21 points and hit 10 of his 12 shots — most within 5 feet — in the first half. Nowitzki threw down a rare dunk to get his teammates off the bench and give the Mavs a 60-41 lead late in the second quarter.
Everything turned in the third, with the Wolves outscoring Dallas 30-11 over the final 7:30 of the period.
Corey Brewer, who was shooting 16 percent on 3s in December, hit a pair from the corner, Love knocked down a Nowitzki-style, one-legged turnaround in Dirk’s face and then hit Brewer on an outlet pass to tie it at 81 going into the fourth.
The struggles shouldn’t come as a surprise for the Wolves, who were trying to climb over .500 for the fifth time in December. They were 0-4 in their previous four tries, having shot 39 percent while allowing their opponents to shoot 52 percent.
Pekovic had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Rubio had four points, 13 assists, nine rebounds and three steals for Minnesota.
NOTES: Brandan Wright had 14 points off the bench for Dallas. ... Injured Wolves Fs Chase Budinger (knee) and Ronny Turiaf (elbow) played 3-on-3 at the morning shootaround. There is still no timetable for their return. ... Rubio picked up his 1,000th career assist in the first quarter.