Towns, Rubio lead Timberwolves to win over Mavericks

Published 8:50 am Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Karl-Anthony Towns dominated at the start, Ricky Rubio took over in the end and it added up to a big win for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Towns had 34 points and 11 rebounds, Rubio added 13 points and a season-high 15 assists, and the Timberwolves snapped a four-game losing streak with a 101-92 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night.

“The team was struggling lately and everybody had to do a better job in the fourth quarter, and I think we did today,” said Rubio, whose team has lost 12 games after leading by double digits this season, including a two-point home defeat against Utah on Saturday. “We’ve been doing a pretty good job for three quarters all season, but the fourth quarter is just different. It’s when you win games.”

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Harrison Barnes scored 30 points for the Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki had 26, including five 3-pointers.

“We were never able to control Towns, obviously,” Nowitzki said. “He got too deep some; just never really had an answer for him.”

The Timberwolves shot 56.3 percent from the floor, with Towns (15 for 19) leading the way. He got off to a scorching start, shooting 8 of 9 in the first quarter.

Towns scored Minnesota’s first seven points and 16 total in the first seven minutes. He finished with 20 in the period as the Timberwolves took a 33-14 lead after one quarter.

“I guess it was my lucky day,” Towns said. “I just found good ways to find ways that they couldn’t double-team me in spots where it was very difficult to double-team me.”

Rubio scored nine points in the fourth quarter, including consecutive baskets during an 8-0 run that gave the Timberwolves some breathing room after Dallas had whittled a 21-point lead to 81-77.

His three free throws put the Wolves up by 14 with 2:08 to play, effectively sealing the game.

“I thought Ricky had great command of the game with his dribble penetration, and I thought he made great reads early with Karl,” Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “That got Karl going. And he settled us down in the fourth.”

After Minnesota took a 44-23 lead in the second quarter, the Mavericks responded with a 15-2 run to get back in the game. Nowitzki hit 3-pointers on three straight possessions to close the first half as Dallas pulled to 54-46 at the break.

But in the end, it was another stinging blow for the Mavericks, who lost to Atlanta in similar fashion on Saturday.

“Yeah, it’s tough, because both these games, they played out the same way,” Barnes said. “You got down. You battled back. You got an opportunity to kind of get on top, and you fall back into the same routine.”