To say that Luka Doncic has been impressive this season would be an understatement. The Slovenian point guard is averaging a near triple double stat line with 30.3 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 9.2 assists. On Tuesday, Doncic was named the Western Conference Player of the Month, the youngest player to earn the distinction.
It was special
Doncic said after being asked on what the award meant for him.
However, the accolade failed to lift Doncic against Timberwolves. The young phenom struggled and looked frustrated all night. Fortunately, his teammates picked up the slack as the Mavericks pulled away in the payoff period.
Doncic was not his supernatural self against the Timberwolves. The Slovenian sensation missed point blank shots and frequently flailed his arms as he looked for the refs to bail him out.
After a back to back homestand, tired legs could be a factor that contributed to Doncic’s poor performance. The MVP candidate was a -16 on the floor and committed nearly as many turnovers (6) as assists (7) .
Doncic was a liability on offense for most of the 31 minutes he played. The Mavs lost a double digit advantage as the Slovenian guard blew layups, missed open threes, and committed unforced errors. With Doncic struggling, the Timberwolves were able to jump out in front and build a double digit lead.
Midway through the third quarter, Luka was visibly upset as he fervently argued a non-call. The Mavs starting point guard was hit with a technical foul. At that point, coach Rick Carlisle has seen enough. He sent his star player to the bench.
That’s when things started to turn around for the Mavericks.
The tandem of Dwight Powell and Jalen Brunson ignited a strong run in the second half that erased an 11-point Timberwolves lead.
Powell was perfect from the field as he scored 24 points on 9 for 9 shooting. Brunson was also huge for the Mavericks. The back-up point guard scored 14 of his 16 points in the final period.
Both players recorded their season highs at the expense of the Minnesota Timberwolves who dropped six of their last ten games.
Other players also chipped in to help the Mavs overcome a determined Timberwolves squad. Even though Kristaps Porzingis was a -15 on the floor, the Latvian big man contributed 19 points and six rebounds. Reserve forward Maxi Kleber also scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds.
Seth Curry, Delon Wright and Justin Jackson were instrumental off the bench. Despite his struggles, Luka Doncic scored 22 points and led the team with seven rebounds.
All in all, five Mavericks scored double figures and five bench players were at least +11 on the floor. The reserves provided much needed relief to the tired legs of the starters.
After the game, Brunson said,
We fought back. We came together as a team.
Those words summed up the fourth straight win of the Mavericks.
The Mavs would have been in trouble if not for the excellent performances of Dwight Powell and Jalen Brunson. The duo snatched the momentum away from the Timberwolves towards the end of the third and early in the fourth. Their timely buckets gave the Mavs enough cushion to put away the Timberwolves late in the fourth.
With the win, the Mavericks improved to 15-6 to take the fourth spot in the West.