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'Russian Roulette': T-Wolves Wound Mavs In OT
This was the definition of "seesaw,'' the embodiment of "every team makes a run,'' the epitome of what teases fans of the Dallas Mavericks who enjoy their 41-28 record but fear a lower-tier playoff seed, who are thrilled by Dirk Nowitzki scoring 27 but crushed by Kevin Love scoring 35, who would like to think a five-point lead in OT would be enough but are concerned that a one-point loss will be the result.
Said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle: "Plays in overtime, you can go through those all you want, but we're trying to be a team that can win in the playoffs, not just eek in. Playing a first quarter like that on your home court in a game this meaningful is a bad sign for us right now.'
Monta Ellis (22 points and six assists) was Dallas' takeover guy late in regulation and had a three-pointer in OT to help forge that five-point edge. Dirk (just 11-of-27 shooting, those 27 tries his two-year high) was part of that success, too, the Mavs leading 118-113 after a bucket by Nowitzki and a 3-pointer by Ellis.
But in some ways it came down to each club's best player. Love scored with 17 seconds left in the fifth period and then harassed Dirk -- who'd missed all five of his fourth-quarter shots -- into missing a potential game-winner from 20 at the buzzer.
"Then,'' Carlisle said, "it becomes a game of Russian Roulette, whether you can make the last shot or not.''
And Dallas has the this self-inflicted wound now on its eight-game homestand in a loss to an admittedly challenging 34-32 Minny squad that is nevertheless not a playoff contender.
"This feels like a playoff loss,'' Dirk said. "I don't know what to say."
Shawn Marion had 16 points and 11 rebounds, Vince Carter scored 14 points, Devin Harris scored 13, and Jose Calderon scored 12 points. So Dallas -- with Ellis scoring 15 in the final two periods -- reached its desired balanced offense. But the challenge of guarding Love was made even more difficult by the work of Timberwolves Kevin Martin (19 points) and Ricky Rubio (a triple-double of 22 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists). Oh, and old friend J.J. Barea scored 15.
"NBA games are long,'' said Carlisle after losing to a Minny team that wins the season series with Dallas, 3-1. "As long as we're going to put 48 minutes on the clock, you've got to play the whole game. If they're going to put an extra five, you've really got to play them."
For 48 minutes and then for five more, the Mavs didn't do that. Then did. Then didn't again.
The basketball definition of "seesaw.''
The basketball version of "Russian Roulette.''
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