Deep Bench Helps Mavs Roar Back To Win 121-114 Over Timberwolves

Matt Galatzan

DALLAS - It has been a rare occasion that Luka Doncic has an off night, but even when he does, as was the case in their 121-114 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Dallas Mavericks are a tough team to beat.

An 'off' night for Luka, to be fair, still dwarfs an outing for a typical NBA player, but considering what we have seen this season, Wednesday night's 21-point, six-rebound, seven-assist did seem a tad underwhelming. 

(Video courtesy Taimon R. Turner of Dallas Fanatic.)

In fact, it was actually Dwight Powell who had been the Mavs offensive star through the first 31 or so many, scoring 24 points and grabbing five rebounds with two blocks before exiting the game due to an arm injury. Powell was 9-of-9 from the floor, joining Brandon Wright as the only Mavs in franchise history to shoot 100 percent on nine or more shot attempts.

"If you look at his stat line, it is phenomenal,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. "Night after night from the floor, he hit threes and had big moments. He was doing dirty work all night trying to guard (Karl-Anthony) Towns and dealing with their driving lane. He was tremendous."

Even with Powell (who sustained a left arm contusion with X-rays coming out negative) carrying the torch offensively, the Mavs began to find themselves in trouble in the second half. That was particularly the case midway through the third quarter when the Mavs fell behind by as many as 11 points.

It was at that point, however, that the depth of the Mavs bench began to show, and some key reserves began to take over the game. 

The reserve unit, which only went five deep for this matchup, was led by 14 fourth-quarter points from Jalen Brunson, combining for 45 points in the game, including 25 of the Mavs 41 fourth-quarter points.

"Maxi) Kleber’s shot-making in the fourth was huge," Carlisle said. "Obviously, the game that (Jalen) Brunson had was a difference-maker. We were just struggling all night with the exception of a 10- or 11-point cushion in the second quarter, but it was a struggle from then on. We needed to get some energy and Brunson gave us a big one in the second half. On the second night of a back to back, you have to have a bench that can perform. These guys did a great job.”

Kristaps Porzingis also finished the game strong after a tough first half, ending with 19 points and six rebounds in 29 minutes of action. 

With the win, the Mavs (15-6), who are now 7-4 at home and 2-0 on the second end of back-to-backs, have moved one and a half games ahead of the Houston Rockets for fourth place in the Western Conference standings, and have taken sole possession of first place in the Southwest division.

Dallas will be back in action on Saturday afternoon when they welcome Jrue Holiday and the New Orleans Pelicans to the American Airlines Center for their third matchup of the season. Dallas is 2-0 against the Pelicans to this point, including a 118-97 win in New Orleans on Tuesday night. 

"We love the team,'' Carlisle said of a club that has rattled off nine wins in 10 outings for the first time in a decade. "It is a group of guys that is getting closer all of the time. The commitment to defense the last 10 games has been a real difference-maker for us and we have to continue with it.”