God bless the Timberwolves. They’re one of the few teams that can jump out to a commanding lead early in the game, hold it through the majority of the contest, and even manage to claim a double-digit advantage in the final quarter without being even remotely frightening. Minnesota may well be a good team sometime in the future, but for now the only thing they have going for them is that they completely demoralize a team if they actually win — because if you lose to the Timberwolves, you should probably give up on the season.
The Mavericks very nearly did lose to the Timberwolves. Andrew Wiggins stormed the court in the first quarter and lit it up, scoring 13 points while his team jumped out to a 33-23 lead. Fellow youngster Karl-Anthony Towns was nearly as productive, adding 9 points of his own. While Wiggins slowed down the rest of the way, Towns was an absolute monster throughout, finishing with 27 points, 17 rebounds, and 6 blocks. There is little doubt he has the ability to be one of the game’s very best big men soon.
It wasn’t enough for Minnesota in the end, though. Dallas looked like the veteran team they are down the stretch, calmly erasing a 10-point fourth quarter deficit with just over six minutes left in regulation. It almost appeared as though they had been merely conserving energy for most of the contest, and then when it came time to stop messing around the real action started.
Of course, the Mavericks have grown far too fond of playing in overtime to win the game in the standard 48 minutes. For an old, hobbled team that features several players coming back from major injuries in the recent past, there’s definitely room for concern with all these overtime minutes getting added to the schedule. The month of January has been hard enough on the Mavs as it is; all this overtime isn’t helping.
On the bright side, they absolutely beat the shit out of the Timberwolves in those five extra minutes. The methodical way they went about putting Minnesota away in overtime had the feeling of how things would go between these teams if a playoff series were to take place. When the Mavs knew the game was on the line, they couldn’t be stopped. They outscored the Timberwolves by a ridiculous 17-5 margin in the final period.
Unlike the previous game against the Celtics, this was a more varied attack. Instead of Dirk Nowitzki and Deron Williams doing all the heavy lifting, it was Chandler Parsons, Devin Harris, and Wesley Matthews. Parsons was particularly brilliant, scoring 30 points and pulling down eight rebounds on the side. In the previous two games, Parsons has scored 46 points and connected on 7-for-12 from downtown. It’s been an up-and-down year for a player who is critical to the team’s success, but this is definitely an encouraging sign.
Ultimately, this was another must-win for the Mavs. They simply can’t afford to lose easy games against teams like the Timberwolves, and even if it did take another overtime period, they got the job done. It’s back to six games over .500 (25-19) with a tough rematch against the Thunder on Friday coming up. With the all-bench debacle turned brawl still fresh in everyone’s minds, it would be a great time to finally beat Oklahoma City this season. That is far from an easy assignment, unfortunately.