Karl-Anthony Towns had 20 points and nine rebounds and the Minnesota Timberwolves made up for a narrow loss at Dallas four days earlier by tightening up their defense and blowing out the Mavericks 116-95 on Friday night.
Jordan McLaughlin had a season-high 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting for the Timberwolves. They moved a half-game behind idle Denver for the sixth spot that they badly want in the Western Conference to avoid the play-in tournament. The Timberwolves, who stopped a two-game losing streak, play the Nuggets next week.
Luka Doncic had 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for the Mavericks, who missed an opportunity to pass Utah for sole possession of fourth place in the Western Conference. The Mavericks are tied with the Jazz, who lost at Charlotte on Friday, in the fight for home-court advantage for their likely first-round matchup. Dallas and Utah face each other Sunday.
Dwight Powell pitched in 13 points for the Mavericks. They also fumbled their chance to move a season-high 18 games above the .500 mark.
The Mavericks held on for a 110-108 victory over Minnesota in Dallas on Monday night, a game the Timberwolves had the upper hand in until a late lapse – and a whistle that did not go their way. Then they squandered a 15-point third-quarter advantage Wednesday night at home in a loss to NBA-leading Phoenix while Devin Booker and the Suns shredded their second-half coverages.
The Timberwolves lead the league in opponent turnovers, boasting a streak of 71 games of forcing 10 or more, and they matched their usual aggression with some needed consistency on the defensive end. Doncic had to work for everything he got, pestered by Patrick Beverley, Anthony Edwards and Taurean Prince at various times.
Doncic delivered his usual array of slick passes, including a one-handed feed through Prince’s legs on the bounce to Max Kleber for a dunk in the first quarter, but the cold Mavericks cost him a bunch more assists.
The Mavericks, who are missing sharpshooter Tim Hardaway Jr. as he recovers from foot surgery, went 10 for 43 from 3-point range. Reggie Bullock was 1 for 11 from the floor, and Jalen Brunson was 4 for 12.
SORE IN THE SECOND
Minnesota’s bench had a 47-38 scoring advantage. The reserves were on a roll in the second quarter, but that was a painful stretch. Naz Reid limped off with a leg injury, though he later returned. Malik Beasley sprained his ankle and did not return.
Mavericks: Doncic, who sat out Wednesday to rest a sore ankle, had 15 points on 5-for-17 shooting against Minnesota on Monday. … Sterling Brown missed the game after being placed in the health and safety protocols for COVID-19 earlier in the day. … Davis Bertans missed his third consecutive game with right knee soreness. Trey Burke was out with an illness.
Timberwolves: Angelo Russell had 15 points and eight assists. … Minnesota’s last three-game losing streak was Dec. 28-Jan. 2. … Jaden McDaniels missed his fifth straight game with a sprained left ankle.
Mavericks: Host Utah on Sunday. After that, the Mavericks have only two of their final seven games against top-six opponents in either conference. The Jazz have three of seven.
Timberwolves: Start a four-game trip on Sunday at Boston. They’ve won five of their last seven road games.