How it happened: Minnesota’s Kevin Martin got cooking in crunch time, when the Mavericks offense went flat again.
Martin, the Timberwolves shooting guard, took over after the Mavs managed to cut Minnesota’s lead to two midway through the fourth quarter. He had nine points during an 11-2 run over the next few minutes that stretched the Timberwolves’ lead back to double digits.
Martin, who scored a season-high 32 points in Minnesota’s win over the Mavs earlier in the month, finished with a team-high 25 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter.
For the second consecutive night, Dallas struggled to score down the stretch without injured point guard Jose Calderon on the court. After DeJuan Blair's putback that cut the deficit to two points with 6:33 remaining, the Mavs scored only 10 points over the next six minutes. Dirk Nowitzki (23 points) was the lone Mav with a field goal during that span, during which Dallas committed three turnovers.
Mavs guard Monta Ellis snapped out of a minislump with 26 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. However, he cooled off in the fourth quarter, when he had only four points and committed a couple of turnovers.
What it means: The Mavs have lost four of five games to fall to 10-8 overall. After starting 7-0 at home, the Mavs have lost two of their past three at the American Airlines Center. This is their second loss to the Timberwolves (9-9), which means the Mavs must sweep their remaining two meetings with Minnesota to have a chance at a potential postseason tiebreaker.
Play of the game: Nowitzki and Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio collided while fighting for a loose ball on the Timberwolves’ end. Nowitzki ended up on the floor with a bloody nose. Rubio came up with the ball, crossed over Gal Mekel and passed up the floor to Corey Brewer, who fed Martin for the dunk to finish the fast break. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle was irate that Rubio wasn’t whistled for a loose-ball foul, but the bucket bumped the Timberwolves’ lead back to three points early in the third quarter.
Stat of the night: The Mavs are 3-4 when Ellis and Nowitzki both score at least 20 points.