NBA PREVIEW

Mavs looks to feast on shorthanded Timberwolves

Field Level Media

February 24, 2020 at 7:27 am.

One team that’s well rested as the result of a back-to-back matches up with another in the middle of a tough two-day sequence when the Dallas Mavericks play host to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.

Neither team has fared well of late, which is of more significance to the Mavericks, who are in a battle for playoff positioning in the Western Conference. The Timberwolves find themselves jockeying for lottery position.

Dallas has gone just 7-8 in its last 15 games, including a split on a two-day, two-game trip to Orlando and Atlanta over the weekend.

The Mavericks were rolling in a 122-106 win at Orlando on Friday, with Luka Doncic narrowly missing a triple-double with 33 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, while Kristaps Porzingis went for 24 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.

Both were given Saturday off on the second night of the back-to-back, and the Atlanta Hawks took advantage with a 111-107 victory despite 33 points by Tim Hardaway Jr.

The Mavericks didn’t quietly pack their things and head back to Dallas after the game. Rather, owner Mark Cuban ranted about the officiating late in the game, and the Mavericks subsequently filed a protest over a key follow shot by the Hawks’ John Collins with 8.4 seconds left.

“So they call a goaltend,” Cuban expressed on Twitter. “(The referees) literally blew the whistle that it was a goaltend. There was a putback after the whistle. After review they said no goaltend, but count the basket? (What) is that? That’s NBA officiating.”

The NBA is expected to rule on the protest on Monday.

Doncic and Porzingis are rested and expected to face the Timberwolves, which isn’t good news for the visitors.

When the Mavericks hosted Minnesota in December, Doncic contributed 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists to a 121-114 win, while Porzingis accumulated 19 points and six assists.

The Timberwolves flew into Dallas late Sunday night after a competitive effort at Denver in which they were beaten 128-116.

Minnesota opted to give D’Angelo Russell the night off, allowing him to join Karl-Anthony Towns (broken left wrist) on the bench, then used just nine players, with each getting at least 16 minutes.

The loss was the Timberwolves’ eighth straight on the road and 17th in 18 games overall as they adjust to a roster that was reshuffled at the trade deadline.

Newcomers Malik Beasley (17), James Johnson (13) and Juan Hernangomez (seven) combined for 37 points in the loss to the Nuggets, while Jordan McLaughlin, who never left the bench in Minnesota’s earlier loss at Dallas, recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists.

The game will be a homecoming of sorts for Timberwolves rookie Jarrett Culver, the Lubbock native and Texas Tech product who had 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists in his first NBA trip to Dallas.

Generally a disappointment in his rookie season, Culver sees brighter days ahead now that the Timberwolves have acquired a quality point guard in Russell.

“I can learn from (him),” Culver said to reporters recently. “When I do have the ball, (I can) see the things he does when he comes off pick-and-rolls. When I don’t have the ball, (I’ll) be able to cut and use him to be able to get looks. He’s a great passer as well.”