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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Monday, December 30th (All times Eastern)

Dallas Mavericks (17-13) at Minnesota Timberwolves (15-15), 8 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - Kevin Love is making an early case for MVP and will lead the Minnesota Timberwolves into Monday's matchup with Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks at the Target Center.

Love is averaging 30.8 points per game in his last 10 and has recorded six straight double-doubles, including a 33-point, 15-rebound performance in Saturday's 117-95 victory at Milwaukee. Love, who made 11-of-17 shots and has scored 20 or more points in the past 10 contests, is third in the NBA with 26.1 ppg and first in rebounding (13.8).

Kevin Martin scored 20 points and Nikola Pekovic ended with 19 and 11 rebounds for the T'Wolves, who have won two straight and six of their last 10 games. They shot 47.8 percent against the Bucks and made 20-of-29 free throws.

The Wolves have won a league-leading six games by 20-plus points this year.

"It was a good win," said Wolves coach Rick Adelman. "If nothing else our guys learned a lesson that the game's not over. We missed a lot of shots and missed free throws."

The Timberwolves, who are 15-9 when scoring 100-plus points and evened their mark at 15-15, will also welcome New Orleans and Oklahoma City to town and have won three in a row as the host.

Minnesota is 9-4 at the Target Center and hasn't been over the .500 mark since a loss at Indiana on Nov. 25 dropped them to 8-8.

Dallas opened a three-game road trip with Saturday's 105-83 victory at Chicago, as Monta Ellis recorded 22 points and both Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter scored 18.

Nowitzki made all four of his 3-pointers and the Mavericks were 13-for-26 as a team while shooting better than 52 percent overall. Nowitzki had scored 20 or more points in his previous six games, averaging 23.3 ppg in that time, and reached 9,000 career regular-season field goals with his fourth basket.

"They made a couple of runs but we were able to sustain and come out with a good victory," said Mavs forward Shawn Marion, who had 14 points and 13 rebounds in the largest margin of victory this season.

The Mavs, who rebounded from Thursday's loss to rival San Antonio and led by as many as 29 in Chicago, have won two of three games and improved to 6-9 away from Big D. They will close the road trip Wednesday against Washington.

Dallas has lost the first two meetings with Minnesota this season and the two clubs will clash again March 19 at American Airlines Center. The Timberwolves have won four of the past six encounters with the Mavs, but have dropped 13 of the last 17 games as the host in this series.

12/30 11:08:44 ET

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