Dirk Nowitzki scored 30 points as the Dallas Mavericks put away the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-96. Anthony Randolph, starting for an injured Kevin Love, put up 31 points on 14-20 shooting to go with 11 rebounds, placing the fear of something nasty into everyone plus Knicks fans.
Most would never dream of a Dirk-Randolph shoot-out, but the enigmatic third-year forward -- cast off by the Warriors and Knicks already -- rose to the challenge. Unfortunately, the supporting cast Love has dragged up and down the floor all season still stunk. Michael Beasley had more turnovers than made field goals. Wes Johnson shot 3-12. Darko Milicic contributed an electric four fouls, two turnovers, two rebounds and zero points in 14 minutes of "work." Jonny Flynn had 13 points and five assists, shooting 5-10. That's considered a raging success when it comes to Flynn.
Of course, that collection of players still lost by only eight. Dallas was sloppy with the ball (16 turnovers) and the starting backcourt of Rodrigue Beaubois and Jason Kidd combined to shoot 1-10. Surviving a night like that is far more preferable than not, but those of us considering the Mavericks as legit challengers to the throne get a bit unnerved when games like this -- games against awful teams missing their best player -- don't turn into blowouts.