Timberwolves-Mavericks Preview


The Dallas Mavericks are hoping some key injuries aren't finally catching up with them.

The short-handed Minnesota Timberwolves are dealing with similar concerns as they travel to Dallas for a matchup of two banged-up clubs Monday night.

After winning four of its first five games without star forward Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas (4-3) is coming off its second straight road defeat - a 101-97 overtime loss Saturday night at Charlotte.

Nowitzki is still recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, and another Dallas forward, Shawn Marion, has missed three straight games since being diagnosed with a sprained MCL. His status is uncertain.

Without their own All-Star forward, the Timberwolves (4-2) also managed a 4-1 start before seeing their three-game winning streak come to an end Saturday night in an 87-80 loss at Chicago.

Kevin Love (broken hand) and Ricky Rubio (torn ACL) have yet to play this season and they remain out with their long-term ailments. Former Mavericks guard J.J. Barea (foot sprain) has missed the last two games, and it's uncertain whether he'll play in Dallas for the first time as a visitor.

To make matters worse for Minnesota, Brandon Roy missed his first game Saturday with a sore right knee, a familiar problem for the veteran. His replacement in the starting lineup, Chase Budinger, hurt his left knee against the Bulls.

The Timberwolves found out Sunday that Budinger tore the meniscus in his knee. He'll have surgery and is out indefinitely, though the general timetable for such an injury is around two months.

"The other guys have to step up," Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said. "The league's not going to give us a reprieve. We're not going to get those guys back (right away), so we've got to just keep playing."

Nikola Pekovic has stepped up, averaging a team-best 14.5 points. He led Minnesota with 18 points and added eight rebounds against the Bulls, while forward Andrei Kirilenko had 11 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for the Wolves, who have dropped two of three on the road.

"We just have to keep working and trying to get better," Adelman said. "We have a group that's going to keep playing hard."

O.J. Mayo has helped pick up the slack for the Mavericks, leading the NBA in made 3-pointers while hitting 28 of 46 (60.9 percent) from beyond the arc.

Mayo, averaging a team-high 21.9 points, scored 22 on Saturday but couldn't prevent Dallas from losing to the Bobcats for the first time in 17 all-time meetings.

Dallas is looking to do a better job of taking care of the ball after committing a total of 39 turnovers in its last two games, including 19 against the Bobcats.

"This team has a lot to learn about winning," Carlisle told the NBA's official website. "This is a very painful lesson."

The Mavericks hope to get well back home, where they've had no trouble scoring this season. They've shot 56.2 percent from the field, made 34 of 66 (51.5 percent) from 3-point range and averaged 116.3 points in winning all three games.

Mayo has done most of his damage in Dallas, averaging 28.0 points there. The Mavericks have won 10 of the last 12 meetings with Minnesota at home, although the Timberwolves took the most recent one 105-90 on Jan. 25 behind big performances from Love and Rubio.

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