Things are going so well for the Mavericks right now that even a nasty injury scare can’t slow them down.
It was a breath-holding moment in the fourth quarter when center Dwight Powell – the best Maverick on the court on this night – came out of a collision under the basket clutching his left wrist. The Mavericks, who had trailed by 11 points earlier, were clinging to a five-point lead at the time, in part because of Powell’s 24-point, 9-for-9 shooting night. Those 24 points were two off his career best.
Powell would leave for X-rays and did not return. Luckily, after the Mavericks’ bench had done lots of heavy lifting earlier in the fourth quarter, Luka Doncic returned to usher them to the finish line for a 121-114 victory over the Timberwolves in the opener of a three-game home stand at American Airlines Center.
It was the Mavericks’ fourth consecutive win and their ninth in the last 10 games.
And afterward, all attention was on Powell, who has averaged 15.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and shot 18-of-23 from the field in the last three games. He has made 12 consecutive shots over the last two games.
The X-rays showed no structural damage. While Powell was in obvious pain as he left the court, he was in good spirits after the game. He said he got pinned in between Porzingis and Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins.
“Just a really awkward play,” Powell said. “It felt like my arm got stuck in a revolving door. I’ll be all right. It didn’t feel good. But thankfully, it’s not broken.”
Averting serious injury was a relief – not unlike the sort of relief that Powell gave the Mavericks all night long.
He was providing his typical energizing style of play and he also had to spend a lot of time working defensively against high-scoring Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns.
“I think is going to be described as a contusion of the left arm,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow and the next day.
“But he played a massively important role in this game. You look at his stat line, it was phenomenal. He was doing dirty work all night long trying to guard Towns. He was tremendous.”
And it came on a night when the Mavericks needed some tremendous things from somebody.
It was a tough night for Luka Doncic, who got cuffed around by the Timberwolves and made precious few trips to the free-throw line. The MVP candidate got a little frustrated along the way, picking up a technical foul after official David Guthrie had enough of Doncic’s jawing.
That was when the Mavericks still were trailing by eight points late in the third quarter.
“I think everybody saw it,” Doncic said. “But we just got to keep concentrating on the game. We won the game. That’s all that matters for me. We just got to keep going like that. We’re on a good streak now.”
Largely because of the support Doncic got. Oh, he still finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists. But this night was highlighted by Powell and the Mavericks that came off the bench.
Jalen Brunson, Delon Wright, Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith and Seth Curry were instrumental late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, helping turn an 86-82 deficit into a 103-99 lead before Doncic and Porzingis re-entered the game with under 5 minutes to go.
When Doncic buried a 3-pointer moments later, it triggered the Mavericks on an 11-5 run to go up 114-104.
It was a masterful night for some of the supporting cast. Kleber had 12 points off the bench and hit 4-of-6 shots. Brunson was 7-of-8 from the field and had 16 points – 14 in the fourth quarter. Brunson’s back-to-back baskets put the Mavericks ahead for good at 93-91.
And Porzingis – playing his first back-to-back set of games in nearly two years – came up with 19 points, 14 in the second half.
It all served to push the Mavericks’ once-puny home record to a more respectable 7-4.
“We’ve turned it around at home a little after a really slow start (2-3) and we have to continue with this,” Carlisle said. “We have a home back-to-back this weekend, which is unique.
“We got to play better at home. It’s still early. Things still have a lot of time to balance out. But we got to do better here, no doubt about it.”