The Timberwolves and Dallas arrived at Target Center Monday night with identical 11-26 records in a battle for the Western Conference bottom, but each team reached it in decidedly different ways.
The Mavericks were 10-5, the Wolves 9-12 in games when each has held a double-digit lead.
The Wolves, of course, have blown big leads in the final minutes against Houston and Utah in the past three weeks.
“Well, we haven’t had many leads,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said.
When they have, the Mavericks have held onto twice as many as they have lost.
Dallas superstar Dirk Nowitzki attributes the difference to the fact that his team is composed mainly of veteran players.
“You need some experience,” Nowitzki said. “Sometimes you need to be a little fortunate, a couple bounces here and there. But experience usually plays a role in it. You can learn how to win and close out games in this league, just by being in that position over and over, making mistakes, getting through it, learning from those mistakes and getting better.
“That’s sometimes what a young team is going through, but they’re on track. They have some young, explosive talent and they’re fun to watch.”
The process, though, is painful, particularly when a team loses in much the same way over and over.
“We have to be aware, but we don’t have to be afraid,” Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio said. “We know what’s going on, and we have to fix it.”
Work like Dirk
Mavericks superstar Nowitzki’s fall-away, one-footed jump shot made FSN’s list of all-time top five moves during its television broadcast. It’s right up there with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Skyhook, Hakeem Olajuwon’s Dream Shake, the Michael Jordan/Kobe Bryant fadeaway and the Tim Hardaway/Allen Iverson crossover dribble.
“That was very nice, thank you,” Nowitzki said. “It really kind of happened on the fly because I was getting a step slower, all the driving and pounding was adding up. So I just tried to create a shot where I could get a little room.”
After playing the Wolves on Monday, the Mavericks fly to Mexico City on Tuesday for a game Thursday against Phoenix. They go home to play the Wolves in Dallas on Sunday, then leave again for games at Chicago and Miami.
“It’s an unusual travel week,” Carlisle said. “Mexico is quite a jaunt. But it’s an important game for the league, an important game for the NBA culture throughout the world, so we’re privileged to be part of it. There’s no point griping about this stuff. You embrace the opportunity and do your best.”
Speaking of flying
The Wolves will play Golden State exhibition games in Shenzhen and Shanghai, China, next fall, ESPN reported Monday. Wolves owner Glen Taylor sold 5 percent of his team to Shanghai investor Lizhang Jiang last summer, and the Wolves aren’t likely to be able to play in remodeled Target Center until just before the season opener in mid-October.
• Mavs swingman Justin Anderson received a flagrant foul type I for whacking Wolves rookie Kris Dunn excessively hard from behind on a fast-break layup in the second quarter.
• Former Wolves guard J.J. Barea is back with Dallas after missing most of the past seven weeks because of an injured calf. He went scoreless, shooting 0-for-4 from the floor.