1. That's why Doncic led the NBA in scoring

His knee hurting and the other ankle sore, NBA regular-season scoring champion Luka Doncic nonetheless did what he does Wednesday night at Target Center, orchestrating Dallas in the fourth quarter of a 108-105 victory over the Timberwolves.

Doncic scored 15 of his 33 points in that fourth quarter. He also had two of his three three-pointers, three rebounds, an assist and two steals in the fourth.

"I just read the game," Doncic said afterward. "I like to read the game."

He did so particularly in a careening fourth quarter, when both teams countered the other with runs. The Mavs led by as many as eight points in that fourth quarter, the Wolves by five.

The Wolves attempted nearly twice as many three-pointers (49 to the Mavs' 25) and made three times as many of them (18-6) — and still lost. They did so partly because the Mavs got to the rim and scored seemingly at will. They outdid the Wolves 62-38 in points in the paint.

Game 2 is Friday night at Target Center. On Wednesday, the Wolves played three days after they beat defending NBA champion Denver in Game 7 on the road.

Doncic and backcourt mate Kyrie Irving combined to score 63 points. Jaden McDaniels led the Wolves with 24 points, including six of those three-pointers.

2. Finding a way to get through Mavericks' pick and rolls

Oklahoma City guard Lu Dort's defense made Doncic work in the last round, and it gives both Wolves top defender McDaniels and Doncic himself something of a blueprint to follow.

Dort held down Doncic much of their series with persistence and effort fighting through every pick in a Dallas pick-and-roll offense .

On Wednesday, All-NBA second-team defense pick McDaniels kept Doncic in check — until that run-filled fourth quarter. Doncic also had eight assists and six rebounds for the night.

"He can guard 1 through 5, for sure," Doncic said about McDaniels. "He's a great defender. He's definitely top three (in the league). He has been doing incredible. He has long hands. He's locked in, and he's going to be tough to go against."

3. Listen to Doncic's body language regarding his knee?

Doncic's shrugged shoulders said more about his hurting knee than his words did when he was asked about it Wednesday after a four-day pause in the Mavs' schedule.

"I don't know. I don't know," he said. "Didn't do too much. Couple days' rest. That's about it."

Doncic started, played 41 minutes and had that fourth-quarter flourish.

4. Whatever the assignment, KAT will defend

Karl-Anthony Towns defended future Hall of Famers Kevin Durant and Nikola Jokic in the first two rounds. In Wednesday's Western Conference finals opener, he mostly guarded Mavericks three-point-shooting power forward P.J. Washington.

"Whatever we need me to do," Towns said. "Whether it's guard Luka full court or guard [center Daniel] Gafford or anybody, [center Dereck] Lively or whoever it may be on their team. Just be a Swiss army knife.

5. You can't stop Kyrie Irving. You can only hope to contain him.

The second half of Dallas' formidable backcourt carried his team with a 24-point first half. Irving made 11 of the 14 field-goal tries he took before halftime, missed his only three-point attempt and made a couple of free throws. His driving layup was good and he drew a foul, too, for a three-point play with 0.7 seconds left before halftime.

That knocked what had been a Wolves seven-point lead with 90 seconds left into a 62-59 advantage for the Wolves at halftime.

"I've been here before," he told TNT during a first-half timeout.

6. Defensive-minded Edwards gets no respect

Each team has its own druthers about the NBA's postseason awards.

The Mavs thought former Duke center Dereck Lively II deserved better than All-Rookie second team. Wolves guard Anthony Edwards received a mere four second-place votes for All-Defense. Teammate Rudy Gobert received the highest vote total among the five-man first team with 198 points.

"Only four?" Edwards asked. "That's crazy."

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7. But what about Dirk?

Towns considers himself one of the best shooting big men there has been. Mavericks coach Jason Kidd played with a pretty good one himself: Dirk Nowitzki, who defined the modern-day "stretch" power forward.

"I think Dirk would definitely have something to say," Kidd said. "I think Dirk opened the door for a lot of bigs to become shooters. So is KAT the best big-man shooter? Only time will tell. We'll see."

In the Denver series, Towns went 13-for-33 on threes in the seven-game series. In Wednesday's Game 1, Towns went 2-for-9 on threes and 6-for-20 overall on his way to 16 points.

8. St. Paul's Sweeney headed to help Slovenia

Doncic on St. Paul's own and longtime Kidd top assistant Sean Sweeney, now on the Mavs' staff: "He does a lot. He does all the schemes. He does scouting for the defense. He talks to us. From the day he came here, he has been a great addition. I'm really happy he's on our team. He helps us a lot."

Sweeney will be an assistant coach for the Slovenia European qualifying team on which Doncic will play in July.

9. Throw out those regular-season results

On Wednesday, the teams played for the seventh time this season, if you count the two games the Wolves won in their preseason openers in Dubai. In four regular-season games, Doncic and Irving played together just once. That also was the only game the Mavs won. All four of the games were played before the Mavs made two trade-deadline deals that transformed their frontcourt by adding length and rim protection.

"I feel like it has been a long year, looking back to Dubai, back to now," Lively said. "It's funny how we're playing the same team."

10. New series, new chance for Wolves reserve Anderson?

Role players often step forth the longer the playoffs last. On Wednesday, it was Wolves reserve Kyle Anderson who scored 11 points late in the first quarter to turn a one-point deficit with two minutes into a 33-27 lead by quarter's end. He went 5-for-8 in the first half in 13 first-half minutes.

Before the game, Wolves coach Chris Finch suggested this could be a series in which Anderson finds a role.