Brunson scores 26, replacements help Mavericks beat Wolves
By LARY BUMP
DALLAS (AP) Jalen Brunson scored 26 points, Dorian Finney-Smith came alive in the second half and the Dallas Mavericks, with a boost from two newly signed players, defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 114-102 in a battle of attrition Tuesday night.
A total of nine players, including three starters, missed the game because they are in the NBA's health and safety protocol.
Brunson scored 16 points in the first half. Finney-Smith had just four at halftime, but added 15 in the second half, including two 3-pointers in a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter that wiped out Minnesota's last lead in the game.
"I got open looks," Finney-Smith said. "They just didn't go in the first half."
Dwight Powell scored 15 points, Boban Marjanovich had 10 and Sterling Brown combined 12 points with 11 rebounds in his first start this season.
Karl-Anthony Towns led Minnesota with and 26 points and 14 rebounds, but also had five of the Timberwolves' 17 turnovers. Malik Beasley scored 22, D'Angelo Russell had 14 points and 12 assists and Jaden McDaniels scored 11.
"Turnovers always hurt," Minnesota coach Chris Finch said, "especially when you're behind and you need every basket, you need every possession. And the shot selection was what hurt us way more than the turnovers."
The Mavericks got a boost from two players signed since they lost just two days before at Minnesota. Theo Pinson played 22 minutes, scored seven points, grabbed four rebounds and added three assists and four steals. In his 16 minutes, Marquese Chriss scored six points, including a thunderous dunk in the 10-0 run, and took down eight rebounds.
Pinson said he was surprised to play so much. "They were calling stuff; I had no idea what it was. I was just reading off of my teammates."
He was waiting to board a flight with his Maine Celtics teammates to go to a showcase in Las Vegas. His agent texted him, and according to Pinson said, "`Yo. Don't go nowhere.' And I'm like, `What are you talking about?' He told me I was coming to Dallas. The rest is history."
Pinson met the team at Minnesota Sunday, but Finney-Smith said he didn't see Chriss until game time.
"It was amazing," Brunson said. "They gave us energy, they played hard. That's the type of stuff that makes a true professional, to come in and not really know what you're doing but just play as hard as you can."
The only COVID-19 fill-in for Minnesota was Nick Knight, who's on a two-way contract. He played 13 minutes and had four rebounds and three points, including the free throw that gave the Timberwolves their last lead.
"They had guys out too," Finney-Smith said. "It was the team that played the hardest."
The Mavericks' win ended Minnesota's four-game winning streak.
In the first quarter, Minnesota made 65% (13 for 20) of its field goal attempts and scored 35 points - and led Dallas by only one point. Towns didn't miss a shot and scored 12 points. In the second, the Timberwolves made just 28% of their field goal attempts and were outscored 27-15 as the Mavericks took a 61-50 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, the Mavericks ran to a 17-point lead, 79-62, but Minnesota came back with a 13-0 run. The Wolves led 94-91 in the fourth before 3-pointers by Brown and Finney-Smith gave the Mavericks a 97-95 lead they didn't lose.
Timberwolves: Minnesota signed F Chris Silva and G Rayjon Tucker, who had been playing in the G-League, to 10-day contracts under the COVID-related hardship allowance. Silva arrived with 59 NBA games on his resume, and Tucker with 34. ... The Wolves were without starters Patrick Beverly and Jarred Vanderbilt as well as Anthony Edwards, John Okogie and Taurean Prince because they were in the NBA's health and safety protocols.
Mavericks: Tim Hardaway Jr. was added Tuesday afternoon to the list of players in the health and safety protocol, joining Maxi Kleber, Reggie Bullock and Josh Green. ... Luka Doncic (left ankle injury) missed his fifth consecutive game, and Kristaps Porzingis (toe) joined him on the injury list on Tuesday. Coach Jason Kidd said, "We're hopeful that (Doncic) is back for Thursday. Eugene (Omoruyi) and Willie (Cauley-Stein) remain out." ... The Mavericks added 6-5 swingman Pinson and 6-9 Chriss to 10-day contracts. Chriss previously played in parts of five NBA seasons and Pinson in three.
MAN BEHIND THE MIKE
Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks' all-time scoring leader, took a turn as the color analyst on the Bally Sports Southwest game telecast.
The Dallas starting lineup was missing 59.9 points per game from Doncic, Porzingis and Hardaway. ... Finch was asked before the game how the Timberwolves could replace their missing scorers. "It's easy to get scoring," he answered.
Timberwolves: Complete a two-game trip at Utah on Thursday.
Mavericks: Host the Bucks on Thursday in the second of two home games.
Updated December 22, 2021