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Doncic, Kidd Ejected in T-Wolves Loss

Sports

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (#77) | Image by David Berding/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks suffered another frustrating loss, this time at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves, falling 116-106 on the road on Monday.

What makes the loss especially frustrating is how it happened.

The Timberwolves played without All-Star centers Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert. However, the Mavericks’ frontcourt was missing Dwight Powell (left quad contusion) for a second consecutive game and Maxi Kleber (right hamstring tear) for the long term.

Still, the defeat marked the sixth this season for Dallas to an opponent missing an All-Star player.

Adding to the loss was the back-to-back ejections of Luka Doncic and head coach Jason Kidd.

With the Mavericks trailing by 14 late in the third quarter, Doncic tried to draw a foul by initiating contact with defender Jaden McDaniels, but he did not get the whistle.

When Doncic complained, he was quickly issued two technical fouls and ejected, his fourth career ejection. Coach Jason Kidd came to his defense, and he too was ejected, his second ejection during his time as the Dallas coach.

When they return to the same court Wednesday night for a rematch, the Mavericks will hope that the emotional spark translates to a boost for a team that largely looked flat most of the game on Monday.

“I probably deserved the one, but two — for sure no,” Doncic said. “Two is just a little bit too much. But I deserve the first one, I’m not going to lie. For sure not the second. I was really shocked I was ejected.”

WHAT TO KNOW

Dallas built an eight-point lead (37-29) early in the second quarter, but then its offense fell apart, scoring just a single basket in a five-minute and 13-second span.

In that same span, Minnesota scored 20 points of their own. The Mavericks scored just 14-points in the quarter to the Timberwolves’ 36, an early dagger, as the Mavericks went into halftime down 57-44 and never really made it competitive the rest of the game, trailing by double digits for the majority of the contest.

Everyone besides Doncic combined to shoot 1-for-10 from three-point range in the second period.

With the absences of Powell and Kleber, Christian Wood started next to Doncic for the first time since he arrived in a trade this summer with Houston, but he had trouble guarding the Timberwolves’ Naz Reid in the paint.

Reid pitched in 27 points and 13 rebounds as Minnesota outscored Dallas 58-18 in the paint.

In addition to Kleber and Powell, the Mavericks were also without Tim Hardaway Jr. (illness) and Josh Green (sprained elbow), who said Monday he was still “another couple weeks or so” away from returning.

The defeat especially hurts if you give credence to early playoff standings.

Dallas and Minnesota entered the game with matching 15-15 records, tied for ninth and 10th, respectively, in a parity-laden Western Conference.

While still less than halfway through the regular season, the loss Monday dropped the Mavericks (15-16) to five games behind the first-place Memphis Grizzlies (19-10) — but also just five losses ahead of the last-place Houston Rockets (9-21).

BY THE NUMBERS

Doncic had a season-low 19 points on 5-for-17 shooting to match his season-worst percentage (29.4) when he was ejected with two minutes left in the third quarter.

The 19 points Doncic finished with ends his 36-game streak of scoring 20 or more points.

His 36-game run ties him with Bob Pettit for the 10th longest all-time, is one more than James Harden’s 35-game streak in 2017-18, and was the longest since George Gervin in the 1981-82 season.

Spencer Dinwiddie led Dallas with 20 points and seven assists, and Wood chipped in 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Anthony Edwards had 27 points, 13 rebounds, and nine assists to lead the Timberwolves.

WHO SAID

Kidd declined to answer questions after the game, appearing for his postgame press conference only to make a statement:

“I’m here because I have to be here,” Kidd said, referring to the NBA’s media requirements. “I already gave up money [with the technicals], so I don’t want to give up anymore. So no questions. Just we’ll go back and look at the tape, see how we can get better. They were the better team tonight, and we’ll go from there. Thanks for showing up.”

FREE THROWS

To add to the sting of Dallas’ fifth loss in its last seven games Dorian Finney-Smith left in the final minute of the third quarter with a right abductor strain.

That same injury sidelined the Lakers’ LeBron James for six games and the Raptors’ Pascal Siakam for ten games earlier this season.

Finney-Smith said postgame he “landed funny” on a block attempt in the second quarter yet chose to play through the pain.

“I try to fight through it, but feel like I probably made it worse,” Finney-Smith said. “It takes a lot for me to get out of there.”

NEXT UP

The Mavericks are staying in Minnesota for a rematch Wednesday against a Timberwolves team now on a three-game winning streak.

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