MINNEAPOLIS (AP) —Luka Doncic scored 29 points and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer to lead the Dallas Mavericks over the Minnesota Timberwolves 119-115 on Friday night, spoiling rookie coach Ryan Saunders’ home debut.
Doncic nearly recorded a triple-double, finishing with 12 assists and eight rebounds. He scored seven of Dallas’ final nine points.
Taj Gibson gave the Timberwolves the lead at 115-114 with a tip-in of Jeff Teague‘s miss with 35.7 seconds left. But with 22.9 to play, Doncic hit a pull-up 3 to put the Mavericks ahead for good.
Harrison Barnes scored 23 points and Dwight Powell made his first seven shots from the floor and finished with 15 points for the Mavericks. JJ Barea came off the bench to add 16 points.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 30 points and 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who were playing their first home game since Saunders was named interim coach.
Saunders, who received a loud ovation from the Target Center crowd before the game, took over as coach after Tom Thibodeau was relieved of his duties Sunday. he won his first game in charge Tuesday at Oklahoma City. Saunders is the son of the late Flip Saunders, the winningest coach in Timberwolves history. A banner hangs in the Target Center rafters in honor of Flip Saunders, who died in 2015.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers were stuck in neutral for most of the first half against Dallas. Then they ramped up their defense and rallied for a second win in as many nights, posting a 114-103 victory over the Mavericks on Friday night.
“From the second quarter on, our defense stepped up. We did a nice job of getting stops and getting out and running,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “We found our energy and were able to carry it on from there. It was ugly in the first. We weren’t able to get back in transition and had too many turnovers.”
Dallas shot 12 of 25 from the field in the first quarter and then shot just 36 percent (22 of 61) the rest of the game. The Lakers (13-9) had a 31-13 advantage in fast-break points and outscored the Mavericks 62-40 in the paint.
LeBron James missed five of six from the field in the first quarter before going 11 of 15 the rest of the way and finishing with 28 points.
“I knew what type of basketball I played in the first quarter and the result of that was us playing poor. I hit the reset button and knew I would be much better,” James said.
Brandon Ingram added 19 points and was lauded by Walton for holding Dallas rookie Luka Doncic to six points and 2 of 13 from the field.
“We tried to contest every shot that he took, whether it was going to the lane, midrange or 3-pointers,” Ingram said.
Kyle Kuzma added 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers. It’s the third time in five back-to-back sets this season that they have taken both games.
Los Angeles trailed for most of the first three quarters – and fell behind by as many as 15 in the second – before going on a 10-4 run the final three minutes of the third to take a 78-75 advantage into the fourth.
Dallas was assessed four technical fouls in the game, including three in the fourth quarter. JJ Barea was ejected midway in the fourth after receiving his second technical.
“The combination of second shots and turnovers really hurt us in stretches in the second half,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “Our bad stretches were longer than our good stretches. It was a very disappointing loss.”
Dallas led 45-30 less than four minutes into the second quarter when the Lakers got back into it with 10 straight points, which included six by James. The Mavericks led 58-53 at halftime.
Mavericks PG J.J. Barea out six weeks with left leg injury
The Dallas Mavericks will be without guard JJ Barea for at least six weeks. That’s according to a report from ESPN that says the Puerto Rican guard tore a muscle connecting his left calf and Achilles tendon during a Wednesday loss to the Boston Celtics, 90-83.
It comes at a tough time for both Barea and the Mavericks, who have started the season just 2-8 despite hopes they would be a playoff contender in the Western Conference.
Barea, 32, is averaging 16.3 points, 5.4 assists, and shooting 38.3 percent from 3-point range to start the year. It’s one of his best starts to an NBA season yet, but Barea is optimistic about his timeline.
“Thank God there is no damage to the Achilles tendon and no surgery is required. I have a tear in the muscle between my calf and the tendon. I will have to use a walking boot for two weeks and won’t partake in any physical activity for the next month. I estimate that I will be out for about a month and a half. It could have been worse,” Barea said, after suffering the noncontact injury while dribbling.