Mavericks vs Timberwolves Recap: Dallas Slips to Minnesota Once Again in Abu Dhabi, 104-96…

The Dallas Mavericks suffered their second consecutive preseason loss, falling 104-96 to the Minnesota Timberwolves in Abu Dhabi.

This loss brings the Mavericks’ preseason record to 0-2. Leading the scoring for Minnesota were Karl-Anthony Towns and Naz Reid, both contributing 14 points each. In a losing effort, Jaden Hardy led the Mavericks with 21 points and eight rebounds.

With Kyrie Irving absent from the lineup, Dallas opted for a smaller starting lineup, featuring Luka Doncic, Grant Williams, and Dereck Lively, alongside Jaden Hardy and Josh Green.

The Mavericks showed improved performance on both ends of the court initially, with successful offensive plays and active defense. Coach Jason Kidd experimented with various lineups in the first quarter, yielding mixed results, and Dallas ended the quarter trailing 29-20.

However, Dallas struggled to maintain their early scoring momentum in the second half of the first quarter and into the second. Jaden Hardy ended a nearly six-minute scoring drought, but by that point, the Mavericks were facing a substantial deficit of nearly 20 points.

Dallas attempted to chip away at the lead but faced consistent responses from the Timberwolves. A late surge led by Doncic brought the Mavericks within ten points just before halftime, with the score at 53-43.

The second half saw star players resting, allowing rotation and bench players to compete for both teams. The Mavericks tried to mount comebacks, but the Timberwolves, often led by Naz Reid, had answers. Dallas managed to narrow the lead to single digits after a Dexter Dennis basket but couldn’t close the gap further. After 36 minutes, Dallas was behind 81-70.

In the final quarter, camp invitees and end-of-bench players sparked a Dallas comeback. A powerful dunk by Dexter Dennis brought the Mavericks within two points and energized the Abu Dhabi crowd. Despite multiple opportunities to take the lead, Dallas couldn’t capitalize, while the Timberwolves hit several late three-pointers to secure the victory. The final score was 104-96 in favor of the Timberwolves.

Now, some observations:

Dereck Lively’s Impact: Rookie center Dereck Lively II has made a noticeable impact with his shot-blocking, defensive challenges, and willingness to hustle for loose balls and make smart passes. While he may have rough outings ahead, his performance in the first two preseason games is promising.

Maintain Perspective on Losses: It’s important not to overreact to these two losses, even though the Mavericks struggled to score under 100 points in both games.

While there are valid concerns, there have also been positive aspects to highlight. With so many new players on the roster, this season was never going to be easy, but it offers a different outlook compared to the previous season’s end. Focus on the positives and consider how Dallas can build on them.

Missing Kyrie Irving’s Offensive Versatility: In the first two games, the Mavericks’ offense has looked subpar, partly due to poor shooting and the absence of Kyrie Irving.

Irving’s dynamic threat off the dribble is sorely missed, and it’s essential to remember that analyzing preseason offensive struggles without him might be premature. While he had an ineffective 14-minute appearance in his first game, his impact on the offensive end, as seen throughout his career, cannot be underestimated.

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