Ellis, Mavs fall to struggling T-Wolves
DALLAS (AP) — Luc Mbah a Moute figured things out in a hurry with Minnesota. Kevin Martin and Kevin Love paced the Timberwolves like they do so often.
Martin had 27 points with some key baskets down the stretch, Love had his usual double-double, and the Timberwolves snapped a three-game losing streak with a 112-106 victory Saturday night over the suddenly slipping Dallas Mavericks.
“We found (Martin). They lost sight of him a couple times, and he ended up knocking down the big 3s,” coach Rick Adelman said. “That just turned the whole game.”
Martin made two free throws with just under 6 minutes left to put Minnesota up 94-90. Ricky Rubio then had a steal that led to a long fast-break jumper by Martin, who later beat the shot clock with a jumper and then added a 3-pointer. That stretched the lead to 103-92, matching the Wolves’ largest, with 3:12 left.
Love, who finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds, also had a buzzer-beating shot. His 3-pointer with just under 2 minutes left made it 106-95, effectively ending any comeback bid for the Mavericks, who lost for the second night in a row and the fourth time in five games.
“We made them take tough shots, and we live with the results,” Martin said, crediting the defense more than his scoring.
Mbah a Moute, acquired Tuesday from Sacramento for former No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams, made his Minnesota debut after going through just one shootaround session with his new team. He played 26 minutes with four points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
“He looked good. A little rusty, but the more he plays, the more he gets in tune with what we’re going to, the better he’s going to be for us,” Love said. “He’s going to be very good for us because he’s so versatile.”
All five starters scored in double figures for Minnesota, which had lost five of its previous six games. Nikola Pekovic also had 21 points, while Corey Brewer had 13 and Rubio 12.
The Timberwolves also went to the free throw line 30 times, 19 more than the home team.
“We were very active. We felt that we moved the ball,” Adelman said. “When we went to our strength, they were going to have a hard time guarding us.”
Monta Ellis scored 26 points and Dirk Nowitzki had 23 for Dallas.
The Mavericks lost 88-87 at Atlanta on Friday night after blowing a 17-point lead in the second half and losing starting point guard Jose Calderon because of a bone bruise on his right ankle. Calderon didn’t play against the Timberwolves, and coach Rick Carlisle described him as day to day.
Ellis put the Mavs up 66-64 Saturday when Shawn Marion rebounded a shot and passed out for a 3-pointer. Ellis tipped in a miss by Marion to make it 68-64 midway through the third, though Dallas ended the quarter with the same seven-point deficit it had at halftime after both teams scored 30 points in the third.
That was also part of the 5-minute span when a bloodied Nowitzki came out of the game, even though no foul was called when he got hit by Rubio in a scramble for the ball. He never left the bench, getting treatment for the bleed near the bridge of his nose.
The game was tied at 71 when Nowitzki came back in with 3:50 left, and he almost immediately had an assist on a go-ahead, 18-foot jumper by Ellis.
After J.J. Barea had a turnover on a bad pass, Nowitzki missed a 20-footer. Barea grabbed that rebound, leading to Love’s tying short turnaround bank shot before Brewer’s 3 made it 76-73 and put Minnesota ahead to stay.
“We’re going to learn about our team right now,” Carlisle said. “Lose four out of five, have a tough loss like last night and then another tough one like tonight — it’s going to test the togetherness and the collective will.”
NOTES: Gal Mekel, a rookie from Israel, made his first NBA start in place of Calderon. He had six points on 3-of-12 shooting with seven assists. Fellow rookie Shane Larkin had four points and two steals. “It’s challenging with our young guys,” Carlisle said. “I thought both guys did some good things. … But our lack of experience there tonight was a factor.” … It was the 100th regular-season meeting between the teams. Dallas leads the series 57-43, though Minnesota has won the first two of four meetings this season. … Mavs C Samuel Dalembert had 12 points on 6 of 7 field goals.