Jim Souhan
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DALLAS – Sorry to interrupt the perpetual narrative of Minnesota sports fans, but these Timberwolves aren't cursed.

They should, though, rally around Luka's cursing.

If you want to complain about jinxes, hexes and bad luck, you'll have to stick to the Vikings' missed field goals and 12th men, and the Twins' ridiculous array of injured stars.

The Timberwolves don't require an exorcism. They just need to shoot and think better.

At this level, emotional intelligence and gamesmanship matter almost as much as coaching, and the great Luka Doncic may have done the Timberwolves a favor, even in the wake of hitting the winning shot at the end of Game 2 to give the Dallas Mavericks a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.

Doncic, guarded by NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, used a crossover dribble for what felt like minutes to create just enough space to release his shot over Gobert's outstretched hand, which, to any lesser player, would have looked like the Foshay Tower.

After the shot splashed, Doncic screamed at Gobert, appearing to use multiple conjugations of one of the more aggressive curse words in the English language to bracket the phrase, "You can't guard me."

Gobert has proved his worth as a player. He's also a popular figure in the Timberwolves locker room.

It's time for the Timberwolves to do what most Minnesotans do in situations like these and get highly offended.

The Wolves were motivated to prove that they weren't just another one-and-done playoff team when they swept the Phoenix Suns.

They were motivated by the rewarding challenge of taking down the defending champion Denver Nuggets in the second round.

The Mavericks presented a different puzzle. The Wolves were exhausted after winning the last two games against the Nuggets, with Game 7 in Denver testing their physical and emotional reserves.

In the Mavericks, they had to face, for the first time, a version of a team that had changed its roster and style of play at the trading deadline, a team whose two gifted point guards could dictate matchups and foil double-teams.

Despite the outcomes of the first two games, I believe the Wolves have the better and deeper roster and should be able to continue their strong play on the road in the playoffs, where they are 5-1.

Having an emotional edge can help.

They should take Doncic's screaming personally.

They also need their best players to play like their best players.

Anthony Edwards is shooting less than 30% in the past three games.

Karl-Anthony Towns got benched for most of the fourth quarter, as Naz Reid's strong play forced coach Chris Finch to keep him in the game.

That's the way Finch explained it. But that doesn't mean Finch couldn't have used Towns with the game on the line.

After Doncic's shot and cursing chaser, the Timberwolves called timeout. They'd be inbounding the ball with three seconds left.

Whatever Towns' flaws overall or in this game, he is a highly paid member of the team because he is an excellent shooter.

Instead of inserting Towns into the game either for a last-second shot or as a decoy, Finch had Jaden McDaniels inbound the ball in an obvious attempt to get it to either Edwards or Reid.

Reid's shot rimmed out, and there is nothing wrong with having your hottest offensive player take that shot. But having Towns on the floor would have been the right play.

This is the first true test of the Wolves' resolve. They defeated Phoenix easily and took a 2-0 lead against Denver with similar ease. When Denver won three straight, the Wolves were galvanized.

On Friday night, a couple of players in the Wolves locker room were doing a lot of grumbling, and McDaniels didn't show up at the postgame news conference he was supposed to attend. Finch, for the second day, sounded frustrated with his players, and Edwards admitted that they weren't following the game plan properly.

The Wolves haven't dealt with this level of frustration since the end of last year's regular season, when Gobert punched Kyle Anderson in the chest and McDaniels punched a wall.

On Sunday, they should convert their annoyance into energy and direct it at the great Luka Doncic.