The poor Dallas Mavericks (1-9) still can’t buy a win. They dropped a close game at home last night to the New Orleans Pelicans, which was their fifth defeat in a row as they find themselves stuck with the worst record in the NBA.
Harrison Barnes had 26 points in a losing effort, while rookie Dennis Smith Jr. put up 16 on an inefficient 7-of-20 shooting.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Timberwolves (5-3) have now won three in a row after taking care of the Pelicans on the road. Karl-Anthony Towns had an unusual off-night as he had a career-low two points, but Jimmy Butler picked up the slack with 23 points while Andrew Wiggins added 18.
After a slow scoring start to his Wolves career, Buttler has now put up 23 or more points in two of his last three games.
Three keys to the game
Fatigue – The Mavs will be at a distinct disadvantage as they go on the road on the second night of a back-to-back. They will meet a Timberwolves team which should be fresh as a daisy after two days off.
Interior battle – The Mavs were simply demolished on the boards by the Pelicans’ Twin Towers of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, who combined for 35 rebounds. The Timberwolves won’t be any easier to handle on the glass, especially on the offensive end.
Mavs offense – Dallas just can’t put many points on the board. They haven’t broken 100 points in each of their last three games, which has coincided with Wesley Matthews’ recent slump. Matthews had scored at least 16 points in four straight games, and the Mavs will need similar firepower tonight.
Matchup to watch
Nerlens Noel vs Karl-Anthony Towns – Noel has been a disappointment this season for Dallas. He’s averaging just six points and six rebounds per game, and hasn’t given Rick Carlisle a reason to give him consistent minutes. He will have another opportunity to do so as he goes up against rising star Karl-Anthony Towns.
Mavericks projected starting lineup
PG – Dennis Smith Jr. | SG – Wes Matthews | SF – Harrison Barnes | PF – Dirk Nowitzki | C – Nerlens Noel
Timberwolves projected starting lineup
PG – Jeff Teague | SG – Jimmy Butler | SF – Andrew Wiggins | PF – Taj Gibson | C – Karl-Anthony Towns
Towns will be a nice candidate to bounce back from his poor performance against the Pelicans. And after seeing how New Orleans’ bigs dominated Dallas, look for him to have a field day himself on the boards.
The Timberwolves have won by more than three points just once this season, but this is their perfect opportunity to blow the doors off a team. Even with a big 13.5-points spread, look for the Timberwolves to take care of business and cover at home.
The Timberwolves thrash the sorry Mavs, 112-95.
This game will be broadcast on Fox Sports North and Fox Sports Southwest. Tip-off at Target Center is at 8:00 pm ET.
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