It all seems much brighter now. The Dallas Mavericks won their third straight game against the Minnesota Timberwolves 113-98. This game was the Darren Collison Show, as he seems to be becoming much more comfortable in Rick Carlise’s flow offense. Collison scored 23 points on 7-11 shooting and added 9 assists. He was a much better facilitator tonight than he’s been for much of the season while maintaining his aggressiveness. I do worry about his future with the Mavericks as he still has not found a way to make Dirk Nowitzki’s life any easier.
Dirk did not look good on the offensive end tonight, scoring 10 points on 5-12 shooting. Perhaps even more telling, he did not attempt a single free throw in 33 minutes. It wasn’t all bad for Nowitzki, as he did have 6 assists, ran the court well and looked pretty active defensively. Bob Ortegal made the point that he thinks Dirk is setting the tone moving the ball. That theory is lent credence by the fact that the flow offense didn’t work without him.
The Mavericks had 33 assists tonight on 46 field goals. The ball movement was certainly as good as it’s been since the departure of Jason Kidd. The major beneficiary of that ball movement was Elton Brand. Brand scored 20 points on 10 of 13 shooting and looked like the player the Mavs had hoped for when they claimed him off the amnesty waiver wire.
Two players on the Timberwolves that the Mavericks should covet are J.J. Barea and Nikola Pekovic. Barea took out his frustrations of not being resigned after the 2011 title by scoring 21 points to go along with 5 assists in just 26 minutes. Pekovic is a rare breed in the NBA as a good rebounding, solid defending, high percentage shooting center. He had 20 points on 11 shots and 12 rebounds. This surely is a player that Donnie Nelson dreams about at night.
OJ Mayo had 20 points and 9 assists on the night. Mayo has really picked up his game with crisp passing. His turnovers were killing Dallas two weeks ago, but he seems to really have worked to correct that issue and is now moving the ball the way Carlise requires from a shooting guard.
While Dallas also caught Minnesota on the second night of a back-to-back and they allowed them to get back into the game after it looked like they had them put away, this game was impressive. Even without Kevin Love, the Timberwolves are a good team, and three wins in a row shouldn’t be scoffed at by this year’s version of the Mavericks. The mountain now seems a little less steep, and your Mavs look a little more capable.