Playing their third game in four nights, the injury-plagued Dallas Mavericks could use a trouble-free matchup. Facing the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves could be exactly what the Southwest Division leaders need.
Dallas will try to win its 12th straight overall and eighth in a row at Minnesota on Monday night, when the Timberwolves get one of their best players back from suspension.
With the NBA’s longest active win streak, the Mavericks (43-21) have built a five-game division lead over San Antonio and are in close pursuit of the Western Conference-leading Lakers.
Dallas, though, is trying to get healthy for the stretch run. Jason Terry(notes), one of the league’s best off the bench with 16.4 points per game, had facial surgery Friday and could be out another two weeks after getting elbowed in the face by Minnesota’s Corey Brewer(notes) in Wednesday’s 112-109 home win.
The Mavericks could also be without both of their centers Monday in the final meeting this season with the Timberwolves (14-49). Erick Dampier(notes) has been sidelined the last 11 games with a dislocated right middle finger, while Brendan Haywood(notes) missed the final three quarters of Friday’s win over Sacramento and a 122-116 victory at Chicago on Saturday with lower back tightness.
“The biggest thing is for us to get healthy,” Jason Kidd(notes) said Saturday after handing out 15 assists and grabbing 11 rebounds. “We won short-handed tonight, but that just shows how deep we are. Everybody is focused on one thing and that’s winning.”
Kidd, who sat out Wednesday with the Mavericks playing their 10th game in 16 days, will likely be in the starting lineup Monday when the Mavericks look to extend their longest winning streak since a 17-game run Jan. 27-March 11, 2007.
Dallas has won seven straight at the Target Center since a 91-78 loss Jan. 4, 2006.
Minnesota’s leading scorer Al Jefferson(notes) missed that game following the death of his grandmother and did not play in Wednesday’s loss in Dallas, serving the first of a two-game suspension for his arrest last Sunday on suspicion of DWI.
Ryan Hollins(notes) has played well starting at forward the last two games - averaging 14.5 points and 6.0 boards - but Timberwolves second-year forward Kevin Love(notes) said the team could have benefited from having Jefferson in the lineup Saturday, when Minnesota was outrebounded by nine in a 112-98 loss to Houston.
With Jefferson expected to return, the Timberwolves will try to snap a five-game home losing streak and go for just their second victory overall since Feb. 6.
Dallas will look to match a season high with its fifth straight road win. Another strong effort from rookie guard Rodrigue Beaubois(notes) could help the Mavericks achieve that. The 22-year-old from Guadeloupe has set or tied a career high in scoring in each of the last three games.
“He’s a talent,” Kidd said after Beaubois scored 18 of his 24 in the third quarter Saturday. “He’s going to be a special player in this league.”
Beaubois hit a season-high four 3s and scored 17 in a 117-108 loss to Minnesota on Feb. 5 when the Timberwolves snapped a 13-game slide to the Mavericks.