Preview: Timberwolves at Mavericks
Chandler Parsons believes the Dallas Mavericks can’t afford any more losses to lesser opponents if they hope to make a run in the Western Conference playoff race.
The Minnesota Timberwolves currently fall into that category, though they’re starting to show glimpses of a bright future behind Karl-Anthony Towns.
The Mavericks hope to take care of business with their first back-to-back victories this month Sunday night when the improving Timberwolves go after their sixth win in 10 games.
After overtime losses to Utah and Orlando, Dallas (31-28) hoped to get hot during a six-game stay at American Airlines Center. The Mavs split their first two and nearly suffered another tough defeat Friday before rallying from a 23-point deficit in a 122-116 OT win over Denver.
Parsons led six players in double figures with 27 points and Dirk Nowitzki finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Raymond Felton keyed the comeback, hitting the tying basket with 10.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter and scoring eight of his 16 points in the extra period.
Nowitzki is averaging 23.7 and Wesley Matthews is scoring 17.7 on the homestand.
"We’re trying to get that fifth seed, make a run here and be playing the best basketball we have down the stretch," Parsons, who has scored 20 per game in the past 16, told the team’s official website. "We can’t be giving up many more games to teams that are not as good as us."
The Mavericks, however, have won consecutive games just three times since the calendar flipped to January. As a result, they’ve fallen into a sixth-place tie with surging Portland.
The Northwest Division-worst Timberwolves qualify as a lesser foe at 19-40, but they have wins over the Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago, Toronto and Boston over this 5-4 stretch.
They pulled off a rally from 14 points down in Saturday’s 112-110 victory at New Orleans. Towns finished with 30 points and 15 rebounds, Zach LaVine added 25 points and Andrew Wiggins scored 20 and knocked down the go-ahead free-throws with four seconds left.
"It’s our 19th win, and they’ve all been satisfying," interim coach Sam Mitchell said. "The young guys made plays. It makes you feel good that they’re learning and growing."
Towns, the Rookie of the Year favorite, certainly appears to be doing that. He’s averaging 22.4 points while shooting 57.2 percent and pulling down 12.1 rebounds over his last 16 games.
LaVine has been more than just a slam dunk champion, scoring 17.3 per game and making 42.6 percent from 3-point range in his past 14. Wiggins has contributed 23 per game over his last 10.
Although they’ve averaged 109.4 points on 48.7 percent shooting in their past 10 games, the Timberwolves have also surrendered 111.2 and a 47.8 field-goal percentage over that span.
Dallas has won five straight in this series, though the two meetings this season have gone down to the wire. Nowitzki led the way with 29 points in a 93-87 win at Minnesota on Jan. 10 before Parsons had 30 with Nowitzki sidelined in a 106-94 home victory Jan. 20.
Towns led Minnesota with 27 points and 17 rebounds and Wiggins scored 23 in that contest.
The Timberwolves, who have dropped nine of 10 in the second of back-of-back games, are reportedly working on a buyout agreement with veteran shooting guard Kevin Martin.