3 Studs, 2 duds from Dallas Mavericks' narrow win over Timberwolves

Jan 7, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Derrick Jones Jr. (55) and guard Kyrie
Jan 7, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Derrick Jones Jr. (55) and guard Kyrie / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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In perhaps the most team-spirited victory of the season, the Dallas Mavericks took down the No. 1 seed Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night by a score of 115-108.

Dallas had a tough time controlling Minnesota on the glass as Dereck Lively II’s absence was readily apparent, but Dallas stepped up down the stretch by winning a ton of 50/50 balls. The Mavericks canned 15-40 3-pointers tonight, but 11 of those 3-point makes came from the likes of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

Dallas’ role players had a tough time stepping up offensively against a very stout and lengthy Minnesota defense, but they came together to stop the likes of Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns on the other end. The Mavericks played very sound help defense down the stretch and were extremely savvy with their defensive rotations.

3 Studs, 2 duds from Dallas Mavericks' narrow win over Timberwolves

Dallas did a great job of scram switching amidst the countless mismatches that Minnesota presented, and they did a great job at forcing fourth and fifth options to take uncomfortable shots down the stretch by staying stringent within their zone defense that Jason Kidd opted to go to at times.

No one necessarily played badly tonight as everyone who played ended up having a finger in Dallas’ gritty victory, but nonetheless, there are always nitpicks that we can make. Here are three studs, and two duds from the Mavericks victory over the Timberwolves.

5. Stud - Derrick Jones Jr.

Derrick Jones Jr. may not have had the most gaudy stat-line on Sunday night, but he contributed to Dallas’ victory in many different facets of the game and still posted a 12-point and 10-rebound double-double. Jones Jr. has quickly risen to become a fan-favorite after being signed on only a minimum deal this past off-season, and Sunday night was yet another example of him showing how invaluable he’s become for this Mavericks team.

Jones Jr. played great defense across the board all night. His primary task was guarding Anthony Edwards, who he did a pretty phenomenal job on, but inevitably Edwards still managed to get to his spots on a few occasions given how uber-talented he is. Otherwise though, Jones Jr. was excellent as a help-side defender and even anchored down in the post against Naz Reid on a few possessions.

Jones Jr. had multiple key blocks against Reid and Rudy Gobert, as his length and verticality was particularly helpful with Dallas missing Lively II out of the lineup. The Timberwolves were trying to force Jones Jr. to shoot from outside amidst him shooting slightly below average recently, but he still stepped into his looks with confidence even if they weren’t falling. He also found ways to get on the board by generating put-backs in a game where Dallas struggled to rebound mightily in the first half.

Jones Jr. showed great persistence in the final juncture of the game, as he had missed a wide-open three pointer late in the game off of a Luka double team with 54 seconds left, but ended up driving in for a massive two-handed dunk after another Doncic double-team on the ensuing offensive possession.

Jones Jr. effectively put the dagger into Minnesota’s night by putting Dallas up 111-106 with 25 seconds left after his slam, and it can’t be stated enough how huge he’s been for this Mavericks team all season.