Derek Fisher got off the canvas several times in an incredible performance, but he was disqualified before the final bell.
Dallas finished their road trip 0-3, but Fisher and several other Mavericks earned high grades Saturday night at Minnesota.
The most encouraging news is that Coach Rick Carlisle has found an extension of himself on the basketball floor. Or in a boxing ring if need be.
Read on for the blow-by-blow action.
Overall Grade: A
Forget about Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao. Derek Fisher was ready to rumble with heavyweight champions Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko Saturday night.
The Mavs 38-year-old point guard got into several altercations in the second quarter. The first three of them were with Timberwolves backup center Greg Stiemsma, who measures 6'11'' and weighs roughly 260 pounds.
At 6'1'' and 210 pounds, Fisher more than held his own. Initially, Stiemsma drew a blocking foul against Fish that got the bad blood boiling.
Stiemsma followed that up with a hard pick that saw D-Fish hit the hardwood. Undaunted, Fisher went right back at Stiemsma, driving to the hoop and drawing another hard foul.
Fisher canned both free throws as Minnesota coach Rick Adelman removed Stiemsma from the game.
T'Wolves rookie guard Alexey Shved tried to pick up the slack by tripping Fisher after he stole a pass. Derek dusted himself off after that foul and decided to become the aggressor again.
Fisher backed down former Mav J.J. Barea and almost nailed him with a couple of elbows. Crafty as he is, D-Fish didn't connect and stayed in the game. Carlisle smartly called Fisher to the bench after this wild flurry of action that spanned only a couple of minutes of game-time.
Derek scored nine points in the fourth quarter and 20 for the game, his highest scoring output in four seasons. After trailing by 15 points, the Mavs took a 98-96 lead with 2:50 left on Fisher's 4-point play.
Ricky Rubio, playing his first game of the season for Minnesota, drew Fisher's sixth foul a minute later. Rubio hit both free throws to tie the game 100-100, and regulation ended with a no-decision after both teams scored two more points apiece.
Fisher almost graded out with an A-Plus, finishing with 20 points while missing only three shots all night. However, his disqualification and the ensuing Mavericks loss allows him "only" an A on our scale.
Overall Grade: A-
Elton Brand came off the bench and played one of his best games as a Maverick.
In 26 minutes, Brand scored 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting; he also chipped in with seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
Kevin Love sat out with the flu bug, but Brand still had to contend with Nikola Pekovic. Brand tied up the Minnesota center with exactly one minute remaining, almost allowing the Mavs to escape with a big comeback victory.
We won't talk too much about Rubio's pass that went through Brand's legs for a second quarter assist. Rubio started the amazing play by going between his own legs (yes, that's four legs in all if you're counting) as he brought back some more memories of Pistol Pete Maravich.
Let's try to focus more on Brand's excellent pick on Rubio in the fourth quarter, helping to set up Fisher's 4-point play. That play typified a strong overall effort by Elton on Saturday night.
Overall Grade: B
Shawn Marion recorded his third straight double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, including five offensive boards.
However, even The Matrix can get gassed at some point. There's no question Marion was exhausted in the overtime period at Minnesota as the Mavs crumbled, 114-106.
It's tough to hold this against Marion, who averaged over 36 minutes during the Mavs three road games in four nights.
Overall Grade: B-
We've come to expect an awful lot from O.J. Mayo. The Mavs shooting guard scored 20 points, matching Derek Fisher's team-high total.
Mayo continued his torrid pace from downtown by nailing 2-of-3 three point shots; he also rounded out the stat sheet with six assists and five rebounds.
So is the B- grade unfair?
Perhaps. But that's what comes with the territory. Mayo is the Mavs leading man until Dirk Nowitzki comes back, and he must perform as such.
As it was, those numbers above aren't that great over 44 minutes played. Mayo shot a respectable 7-16 from the field but missed a key shot at the end of regulation. The Mavs record dipped to 11-13 and so did Mayo's All-Star chances.
Overall Grade: B+
Dominique Jones was very effective in 17 minutes of Mavs "Smallball". DoJo hit two of his three shots and scored six points. He also chipped in with four rebounds and two assists.
Jones' Plus-3 was also indicative of his strong all-around game. Only Dahntay Jones and Derek Fisher had better Plus/Minus numbers for Dallas.
Overall Grade: C
Vince Carter would have graded higher if he hadn't fouled out after 17 minutes played; he scored nine points on 3-of-4 shooting and dished out four assists.
The Mavs could have really used Vince down the stretch, especially in overtime when Marion was fading badly.
Dahntay Jones was Dahntay Jones. After an offensive outburst earlier in the week, Jones scored two points against Toronto and four more against Minnesota; in fairness, his defense remains excellent.
Chris Kaman was mediocre across the board with 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting and six rebounds. If you are an optimist, you can cite his two blocks as an encouraging sign.
Overall Grade: D-
Brandan Wright probably deserves an F as he was the most maddening Mav Saturday night. I've been very critical of coach Carlisle for not playing Wright more, but Brandan gave him eight worthless minutes against Minnesota.
Wright was scoreless with one board and a block. Most tellingly, Wright was Minus-10 as he basically loafed around the court.
Another player that I was wrong about was Darren Collison. Carlisle was a genius for immediately inserting Derek Fisher into the Mavs starting lineup.
Collison, who had some good games off the bench recently, was disappointing against Minnesota. He shot 2-of-8 from the field, managing only seven points and three assists in 34 minutes.
At least Jae Crowder tried, but he still put up goose-eggs across the board: 12 minutes, zero points (0-2 FG), zero rebounds and zero assists.
And the Mavs come away with zero wins on their three-game road trip. Ouch.