By JOE ZIEMER , Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Luka Doncic scored 29 points and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer to lead the Dallas Mavericks over the Minnesota Timberwolves 119-115 on Friday night, spoiling rookie coach Ryan Saunders’ home debut.
Doncic nearly recorded a triple-double, finishing with 12 assists and eight rebounds. He scored seven of Dallas’ final nine points.
Taj Gibson gave the Timberwolves the lead at 115-114 with a tip-in of Jeff Teague’s miss with 35.7 seconds left. But with 22.9 to play, Doncic hit a pull-up 3 to put the Mavericks ahead for good.
Harrison Barnes scored 23 points and Dwight Powell made his first seven shots from the floor and finished with 15 points for the Mavericks. JJ Barea came off the bench to add 16 points.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 30 points and 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who were playing their first home game since Saunders was named interim coach.
Saunders, who received a loud ovation from the Target Center crowd before the game, took over as coach after Tom Thibodeau was relieved of his duties Sunday. he won his first game in charge Tuesday at Oklahoma City. Saunders is the son of the late Flip Saunders, the winningest coach in Timberwolves history. A banner hangs in the Target Center rafters in honor of Flip Saunders, who died in 2015.
Andrew Wiggins scored 17 points, while Josh Okogie scored 15 and hit a season-high four 3s for Minnesota.
Doncic had 15 of his 29 points in the first half to help the Mavericks take a 61-50 lead into halftime.
Dallas used a 17-4 run to open up a lead. Meanwhile, Minnesota shot just 36.4 percent from the floor in the first half.
Mavericks: host the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night.
Timberwolves: host New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night.