How it happened: Power forward matchups don’t get much more lopsided.
Minnesota’s Kevin Love, fresh off signing a four-year, $62 million contract extension, was awesome. Dallas’ Lamar Odom, who seems to just be waiting until the Mavs buy out the last season of his contract, was awful.
Love lit up the Mavs for 31 points and 10 rebounds. He made 9-of-16 shots from the floor, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range, none bigger than one that capped an 8-0 run in the final minute of the first half.
Odom, making his third consecutive start in place of Dirk Nowitzki, was benched midway through the third quarter. He managed to jack up 14 shots in 16 minutes, making only two.
Dallas led by as many as 14 points in the first half despite Odom. But the Wolves seized momentum with the spurt at the end of the half, which was highlighted by a spectacular drive-and-kick by rookie phenom Ricky Rubio (17 points, 12 assists) to Love. The run continued in the third quarter, when the Wolves claimed the lead by coming out of the break with a 13-4 spurt.
Minnesota pulled away in the fourth quarter, spoiling a night that will be remembered for an emotional championship ring ceremony.
What it means: It isn’t alarming that the Mavs lost a game without Dirk Nowitzki to an upstart Minnesota squad. But Odom’s miserable performance is a major issue. The Mavs need him to be an impact player and he’s given no indications that it’s likely to happen.
Play of the game: What looked like a botched fast break turned into a thing of beauty. The Mavs had trouble getting a grip on the ball until Jason Terry scooped it off the floor just outside the 3-point line and tossed an underhanded lob to Brandan Wright in the general vicinity of the rim. Wright soared to slam it with two hands. “Shut it down!” Nowitzki screamed, serving as a guest on the Mavs’ TV broadcast. “Let’s go home!”
Stat of the night: The Mavs’ franchise-record streak of holding foes under 100 points is over. The Timberwolves were the only Dallas opponent to score more than 93 points during the streak, putting up 99 in a New Year’s Day win over the Mavs. The Mavs were 11-4 during the streak.