– The Timberwolves’ next step on their road to maturity is not how they handle defeat but how they follow success.

This time, the answer after Sunday’s 128-101 loss is not very well, but not because of an emotional hangover following Saturday’s joyous comeback victory at New Orleans.

Wolves interim head coach Sam Mitchell attributed Sunday’s 27-point loss — the largest margin of defeat this season, by one point — simply to a fatigued team short on players and size.

Forwards Nemanja Bjelica, Kevin Garnett and center Nikola Pekovic remain sidelined by injuries. Veteran guard Andre Miller’s expiring contract was bought out Thursday and he was waived so he could sign with title contender San Antonio.

Veterans Kevin Martin and Tayshaun Prince were healthy and available to play Sunday, but Mitchell chose not to play them while Martin pursues a contract buyout of his own by Tuesday’s 11 p.m. Central deadline. Prince rested while Mitchell committed playing time to such young players as Shabazz Muhammad, Tyus Jones and Adreian Payne, among the many others.

“We, at least I, felt good,” Wolves star rookie Karl-Anthony Towns said afterward. “We were ready for the game. … You don’t realize how much your body is taking a toll until it’s going through something rigorous again.”

Mitchell said his team needs to add a player — particularly a big one — to fill the team’s open roster spot. But also said he and General Manager Milt Newton must be patient while they wait to see who might be available after Tuesday’s deadline that allows players waived by then to participate in the playoffs with new teams.

Mitchell considered his team a “step slow” Sunday. The Mavericks scored 39 points in the first quarter, 65 points by halftime and 99 by the end of three quarters.

“We’re just tired,” he said. “We’re playing these guys 37 minutes a night. We’ve got to get some help. We get tomorrow off, but we just look like a tired basketball team.”

The Wolves played at New Orleans and Dallas on consecutive nights for the second time since mid-January. They took the Mavericks to overtime before losing the last time. This time, they trailed 37-17 in the first 10 minutes and by double digits throughout the second half, including by as many as 31 points late in the game.

Dallas forward Chandler Parsons called the Mavericks’ dominance from start to finish — they made five of their 13 three-pointers in the first quarter — a “mature win” for a team filled with veterans, including star Dirk Nowitzki.

“I’m not disappointed in the guys,” Mitchell said. “They tried. The effort was there. You could see it in their eyes. I look at the boxscores today and LeBron James is getting a night off for rest. LeBron James. There’s nobody in that locker room right now that we can rest.”

The game’s lopsided nature allowed Mitchell to play his only remaining healthy big men — Towns and Gorgui Dieng — less than 26 minutes each after both had approached or exceeded 40 minutes in recent games.

“It was a tough night, and that has a lot to do with fatigue,” Dieng said. “We tried to push it, but we were just tired. Everybody plays back-to-backs. You fight through it. … All I can do is make sure I’m ready, and whenever I hear my name called, I’ll be on the floor and do my job.”