Mavs’ Irving not enough

Dallas falls to T-Wolves, 124-121

Saint Garcia, Staff Writer

Despite the addition of new superstar player Kyrie Irving, the Dallas Mavericks fell short to a very aggressive Minnesota Timberwolves team 124-121 on Feb. 13.

Since making the blockbuster trade to get the All-Star guard from Brooklyn, the home crowd had been eager to see the superstar make his home debut. The biggest question after acquiring Irving was how the defense was going to suffer, since the Mavs traded away their best defender in forward Dorian Finney-Smith and guard Spencer Dinwiddie. But without a doubt, the NBA will be seeing the best backcourt and offensive wizardry with the combination of Luka Doncic and Irving, as their combined average is 60.5 points per game.

At the tip-off, the pace was at a very high tempo as T-wolves center Rudy Gobert missed a layup and Mavs guard Josh Green took possession, creating ball movement throughout the floor. Dwight Powell posed up in the paint and passed the ball out to the corner for Mavs forward Reggie Bullock who knocked down a three-point shot.

The Mavs would lean on this as the defensive pressure of the T-wolves made sure that no basket would be an easy one. The smaller lineup of the Mavs made it difficult for them to grab defensive rebounds in the first quarter, making it easier for Minnesota to gain second chances at scoring. This would hurt Dallas in the long run during crunch time.

The T-wolves continued to be aggressive as their gameplan seemed to be double-teaming superstars Luka and Kyrie, forcing them to give up the ball to Josh Green and Theo Pinson to create low-percentage shots while at the same time not allowing Dallas players the easy layup.

This forced Dallas into shooting more three-point shots. But nothing seemed to be going in the Mavs’ favor, resulting in them trailing by 11 points at halftime, 65-54.

The desperation from the Mavs started to show as the physicality of the Timberwolves seemed overwhelming. Minnesota guard Anthony Edwards was a strong scoring presence as he continued to attack the paint by drawing fouls and finding teammates to convert assists. It made the Mavs continue to live and die by the three as the game started to trail away.

The deficit grew to 26 points in the third quarter because Dallas couldn’t find an answer and gain control of the game. By the end of the quarter, you could see some midgame adjustments as they started to double-team Edwards and force the ball out of his hands making it quite hard for the T-wolves to score.

Doncic came out of the game in the fourth quarter as Irving was able to be the main ball handler. He single-handedly changed the entire aura of the Mavs as he sped up the pace and forced fastbreak layups, giving the T-wolves no time to think about who to guard.

Irving has the highest fourth quarter scoring average in the NBA as he put on a clinic, spacing the floor and creating opportunities for his teammates. He shortened the deficit to 10 points, forcing the T-wolves to call a timeout, which allowed the Mavs to bring Luka back into the game and have the scoring duo back together. Irving continued to show the hot hand while Luka assisted by making his three-point attempt and continuing to make free throws. Irving scored 26 points in the fourth to ultimately help cut that deficit to three. With only 14.8 seconds left in the game, the Mavs attempted to inbound the ball to Doncic, but he couldn’t get a shot off, so he gave the ball to Irving, who was also overwhelmed with a double-team and couldn’t find room to shoot as time ran out.

This is only the second game that Doncic and Irving have played together. Offensively, they are such a strong duo. They complement each other.

Irving finished the night with 36 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds while shooting 44.4% from three. Doncic finished the night with 33 points, 6 assists, and 12 rebounds while shooting 50% from the field. As the team goes into the All-Star break, it’ll give more time for the Mavs to settle into the new roster.

It might be advisable to sign a new player from the buyout market with the intention of getting more length and a defensive presence. Someone who could also help grab necessary rebounds as the Mavs start to mold their young core players.