Following tonight's loss the Minnesota Timberwolves have now played 28 games this season and tonight was (in my opinion) the worst game I've seen them play this season.
The Minnesota Timberwolves hadn't played since the 29th when they beat the Suns at the Target Center. They had three days rest coming into tonight's game. The Jazz's last game came on the 30th vs. the Clippers, so they also had some time off (2 days). That being said, the Wolves looked like a team that was playing their fifth game of a back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back. There was no energy from the starters and as the missed shot totals continued to accumulate, what little confidence these guys had absolutely plummeted.
Kevin Love turned in yet another poor shooting performance. Love finished 4-for-14 from the field and 0-for-4 from deep. Love still finished with a double-double: 13pts & 10reb in 30 minutes. One thing has become very clear: the Minnesota Timberwolves don't have a chance of making the playoffs unless Kevin Love can figure things out and if the Wolves don't make the playoffs, Kevin Love will take the brunt of the blame.
The Utah Jazz were able to build an eight point lead at halftime. That was thanks in large part to the Jazz bench. Utah brought in Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter and they got things rolling coming out of the first quarter. What was a one-point MIN lead after one quarter quickly became a seven-point Jazz lead, from their the Jazz grabbed control and the lead for the rest of the contest.
After just four minutes into the second half the Jazz pushed the lead to 14 points and two minutes later they added to that lead, making it a 20-point deficit (50-70 Utah). The Wolves needed to cut the lead to single digits heading into the fourth quarter or they'd really have no chance of a comeback in this one. Unfortunately the Jazz found themselves up 13 after three quarters.
Adelman basically decided to 'throw in the towel' early in this one. Lou Amundson checked into the game late in the third and play the majority of the fourth quarter along with guys like Greg Stiemsma as well as the debut of Lazar Hayward. The Wolves' starting frontcourt (AK, Love, Pek) didn't see the floor in the final quarter--Luke Ridnour, J.J. Barea and Alexey Shved all saw minutes in the fourth, simply because of the lack of depth in the backcourt.
This was a decision made by Adelman to hold his stars out of the final quarter of an 'unwinnable' game and instead rest them for tomorrow's game in Denver. Had they lineup of Ridnour, Barea, Cunningham, Williams and Amundson been able to cut into the lead and make this one a competitive game, Adelman may have decided to send his stars back in.
With just over four minutes to play the Wolves found themselves down 22, this was a piss poor Timberwolves effort tonight, plain and simple.
Let's take a look at tonight's top performers from each squad (did the Wolves have any?!)...
The Minnesota Timberwolves had their worst shooting night of the season and didn't have a player score more than 13 points in this one (both Love & Shved finished with 13). Kirilenko had a pretty good game--just the type of complementary type outing you need, you couple that with double-doubles from Pek & Love and there's no reason the Wolves should lose. Pek didn't have a terrible game either. He actually impressed me with those four blocks as he showed some great timing with some send backs vs. Millsap, Big Al, Favors & Kanter. If David Kahn doesn't botch it this offseason and Big Pek stays with the Wolves long-term, we could see some great Pek/Kanter battles in Northwest division play in the coming years--two very physical basketball players. Lou came off the bench and provided energy and hustle, 10 times out of 10, I'd rather see Lou Amundson on the floor than Greg Stiemsma (Stiemer by far my least favorite Wolf--he finished with 6 fouls in 8 minutes and was ejected late in the fourth quarter).
Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter showed why the future will be bright in Utah in the coming years. They can build around guys like Hayward, Kanter & Favors. Millsap had a solid game in this one. He failed to grab a rebound (and the Jazz still managed to finish with 49 on the night), but did add 14 points and was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field, until a late miss in the fourth quarter.
This was Kirilenko's first game back in Utah since the 2010-11 season. AK spent a decade with the Jazz before playing in Russia last season and signing that two-year deal with the Wolves this past summer. Kirilenko received a nice standing ovation filled with cheers when he was announced during player introductions. AK played 30 minutes and watched the entire fourth quarter from the bench, but he did grab his 4000 career rebound late in the first half.
MISC. STATS: Amundson set new season-highs in points (8), field goals made (4) and attempted (8), offensive rebounds (5) and tied a season-high with 1 steal......Dante threw up a three-pointer with the shot clock expiring during the first half of action, it was his first three attempt all season, it did miss......Kevin Love tied a season-high with 2 blocks.......Nikola Pekovic set a new season-high and tied a career-high with 4 blocks in this one........Derrick Williams tied a season-high with 2 steals.......
KEY STATS: When you shoot under 35% from the field and hit just 2 of 17 from three, you lose the basketball game every time. Especially when your opponent counters with 49% & 33%, while out-rebounding you by a +8, dominates the paint with a +20, gets 25 fast break points and 53 from the bench--you're not going to win too many ball games when you let the opposition walk all over you. Tonight was case and point.
MISC. STATS: Minnesota's 12 blocks ties a season-high......The Wolves' 29 field goals made, 2 three-pointers made and 11.8% from deep all tie season-lows.......The Wolves 34.5% from the field is a new season-low.......Minnesota's 25 defensive rebounds is their second-lowest total of the season and their 17 assists and 84 points tie the second-lowest numbers of the season.......The Jazz set a new season-high for a Wolves opponent in fast break points (25) while also tying the second-most in rebounds (49), blocks (12) and points (106)........The Jazz's 12 three-point attempts also tie a season-low for a Wolves opponent.......
That's all for now, the Wolves are back in action tomorrow night vs. the Nuggets in Denver at the Pepsi Center, here's hoping for a full 180. Expect a full gameday preview tomorrow afternoon, until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!