In the days heading up to Friday’s post-break return to action, the Timberwolves talked about a push for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. It was a difficult task at best, with a slew of teams between the Wolves and No. 8 Denver, even though Minnesota entered tonight’s game with Dallas at Target Center just 3 games back of the Nuggets.

But this was a good start. The Wolves edged a half-game ahead of the Mavs into a tie with New Orleans for 11th in the conference, 2½ games behind the Nuggets, with Portland and Sacrament still between them and Denver.

Andrew Wiggins opened the game with 16 first-quarter points. Towns had 14 in the fourth, 12 coming after Dallas – down 15 in the third quarter – had tied the game with 7:58 left.

“It was a key game for us,’’ Ricky Rubio said. “They were right there, fighting for the playoffs. And we had a great opportunity after Denver lost last night. It’s going to be like that every week now, for the rest of the season. Every game will be a key, and we have to be ready.’’

Here are some final notes from tonight’s game:

--with 27 points Friday, Wiggins has 108 in his last three, just short of Kevin Garnett’s franchise record for most points in a three-game stretch (112 in 2000).

--But Wiggins did match Garnett’s streak of consecutive 20-point games, with his 16th straight. Garnett did that twice. Wiggins will go for the record Saturday in Houston.

--After a difficult week in the trade rumor mill, Rubio was very, very good, scoring 13 with 14 assists and three steals. He was the main reason the Wolves had a 17-5 edge in fast-break points. He has now had 10 or more assists in five of his last seven games. It was his 12th double-double of the season.

--Towns had a double-double in just the third and fourth quarters (20 points, 10 rebounds).

--The Wolves, who shot 52.6 percent tonight, are now 12-3 when they shoot 50 percent or better this season.

--Tyus Jones got a lot of minutes tonight with the Mavericks going with a lot of three-guard sets. He scored 11 points in nearly 25 minutes of playing time.

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