By DAVE CAMPBELL – AP sportswriter
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Karl-Anthony Towns had 20 points and nine rebounds, and the Minnesota Timberwolves recouped a narrow loss in Dallas four days earlier by beefing up their defense and knocking out the Mavericks 116-95 on Friday night.
The seeds for this rebound were sown in group text chat during the week.
“This team holds grudges. I like that,” Towns said. “The importance was understood.”
Jordan McLaughlin had a season-high 16 points in 6-on-8 shooting for the Timberwolves. They moved up a half-game behind the idle Denver to sixth place, which they desperately want in the Western Conference to avoid the play-in tournament. The Timberwolves, who ended a two-game losing streak, play the Nuggets next week.
Luka Doncic had 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for the Mavericks, who missed an opportunity to overtake Utah for sole possession of fourth-place Western Conference action. The Mavericks are level in the battle for home field advantage for their likely first-round matchup with the Jazz, who lost in Charlotte on Friday. Dallas and Utah face off on Sunday.
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“Every game is important. We don’t have many left,” said Dwight Powell, who added 13 points for the Mavericks.
They also missed their chance to take a season-high 18 games past the .500 mark.
“We have to get better,” said coach Jason Kidd. “We didn’t play well tonight.”
The Mavericks held on to a 110-108 win over Minnesota Monday night in Dallas, a game in which the Timberwolves had the upper hand until a late slip — and a whistle that didn’t go their way. Then at home on Wednesday night, they squandered a 15-point lead in the third quarter in a loss to NBA leader Phoenix while Devin Booker and the Suns shredded their covers in the second half.
“You have to be able to react quickly to adversity,” Towns said, “especially when we’re in the playoffs and we’re talking about winning a championship.”
The Timberwolves had double-digit points with seven players.
“It shows how good our team is,” McLaughlin said. “One to 15 on this team can play in a rotation. It can be any night, any night.”
The Timberwolves lead the league in opposing turnovers, with a streak of 71 games in which they forced 10 or more, and they matched their usual aggression with needed consistency on the defensive end. Doncic had to work for whatever he got and was harassed by Patrick Beverley, Anthony Edwards and Taurean Prince at various times.
Doncic delivered his usual series of skillful passes, including a one-handed feed through Prince’s legs on the rebound to Max Kleber for a first-quarter dunk, but the cold Mavericks cost him a lot more assists.
The Mavericks, missing sniper Tim Hardaway Jr. while he recovers from foot surgery, went 10 for 43 from 3-point range. Reggie Bullock was 1 for 11 off the floor and Jalen Brunson was 4 for 12.
“We had so many good looks at the 3,” Kidd said.
Minnesota’s bench had a 47-38 goal advantage. In the second quarter, the reserves ran at full speed, but that was also a painful stretch. Naz Reid limped away with a leg injury but later returned. Malik Beasley sprained his ankle and has not returned. Finch said he hoped Beasley’s injury wasn’t serious but there was no clarity on his post-game status.
Mavericks: Doncic, who sat out Wednesday to rest a sore ankle, had 15 points in Monday’s 5-for-17 shooting against Minnesota. … Sterling Brown missed the game after being included in COVID-19 health and safety protocols earlier in the day. … Davis Bertans missed his third straight game with right knee pain. Trey Burke was ill.
Timberwolves: D’Angelo Russell had 15 points and eight assists after scoring six points against Phoenix 3-9 from the ground. … Minnesota’s last three-game losing streak was from Dec. 28 to Jan. 1. 2. …Jaden McDaniels missed his fifth straight game with a sprained left ankle.
Mavericks: host Utah on Sunday. After that, the Mavericks have just two of their last seven games against top-six opponents in each conference. Jazz has three out of seven.
Timberwolves: Begin a four-game journey in Boston on Sunday. They have won five of their last seven away games.
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