The TWolves faced the Rockets a week ago and lost by 15 at the Target Center. Tonight at the Toyota Center in Houston--the Wolves strut away with a 12-point victory.
Unlike that game a week ago--the Wolves got contributions from players beyond Kevin Love. They had two key pieces tonight--they didn't last: Martell Webster & Michael Beasley. Martell had 7pts on 75% shooting and some good perimeter defense, while Beasley actually worked within the constructs of the team and shined with 34 points in 32 minutes off the bench--while shooting 10-for-14 from the field.
The Wolves still struggled to defend Kevin Martin who had 31 a week ago and 29 tonight. They put a combination of different players: Martell, Wes & Ellington--but they still couldn't seem to slow down K-Mart.
The Wolves got hot in the third quarter--which was when they took the game over. They outscored the Rockets 42-25. Those 42 points sets a new franchise record for third quarter points! The previous best? 41 third quarter points in two different games: vs. the Clippers on 12/8/95 & vs. the Bucks on 3/19/00.
That game a week ago marked the return of Kevin McHale & Jonny Flynn to the Target Center. Tonight's game was the return of Rick Adelman & Brad Miller to the Toyota Center. Each duo returned to a previous home and got the W. Of course both of those players (Miller & Flynn) aren't key players for their teams. Miller saw limited minutes as the backup center behind Pekovic tonight and Flynn is buried behind Lowry & Dragic on the depth chart.
Let's take a look at some statistics from each team's key players...
The Timberwolves got a huge boost from Michael Beasley. He shot efficiently and did so within the confines of the team plan and we saw more assisted buckets to Beas--rather than his ball-stopping and isolation. Kevin Love had another great game--surprisingly, however, just 7rebs, still shot efficiently in all aspects and didn't have to play 40+ minutes. Ricky Rubio was the best all-around player today--18pts, led the team in rebounds and assists while playing a team-high 38 minutes.
For the Rockets--they got Martin back after missing two games and led the Rockets with 29pts. However, the problem that plagued the Wolves in their meeting a week ago--was apparent for the Rockets this time. Like Love a week ago--Martin was the only Rocket who was able to score and contribute on the offensive end. The Rockets were still able to put out 108 points and got some 'balanced' low numbers from a variety of players. Ultimately no one was able to step up to the level Martin did tonight and that's why they fell short. That--and they couldn't stop Beasley, Love & Rubio!
Let's take a look at some team statistics...
Let's start with the negatives for the Wolves tonight. Bad news out of the way, first. The Wolves were beat on the break (as usual) 15-6 and they turned the ball over 18 times--allowing 16 points. Those are the only negatives you could really take away from this game when you look at those stats.
The positives are plenty! The Wolves shot high percentages from the field and the line--astounding 58% from the field and 90% from the line--leaving just three points at the line! They struggled a bit from deep--but the Rockets shot two more and made just one more. The Wolves more than made up for that, however, with their dominance in the paint! The Timberwolves boasted a +14 tonight as the likes of Scola & Dalembert didn't seem to be to concerning while the TWolves flew around the paint. The Wolves also outscored a Rockets bench that's got a reputation for being VERY good. Those 50 bench points--were of course headlined by 34 from Beas.
That's all for now. The Wolves' next game will be back at the Target Center vs. the Pacers on Wednesday (2/1)--a full gameday preview of that one can be found on this site tomorrow afternoon. We'll also have some pictures, videos and an updated injury report and stats! Thanks for reading HOWL--stay tuned & GO WOLVES!
The Timberwolves faced the Rockets just one week ago (to the day). Last Monday the Wolves fell to the Rockets at the Target Center: 107-92. That loss was the largest margin of defeat the Wolves have had this season. The Timberwolves are down in Houston for this one--hoping for a different result.
While last game marked the return of Kevin McHale & Jonny Flynn to the Target Center--today's game marks the return of Rick Adelman & Brad Miller to the Toyota Center.
Since playing the Rockets a week ago--they've faced three other teams and have gone 2-1 in that time. Wednesday was a win over the Mavericks. Friday was a win over the Spurs. And most recently, yesterday (Sunday) was a close loss the the Lakers. Recaps of all three of those games can be found in the previous posts of our 'Gameday' section.
For the Rockets, since playing the Wolves a week ago--they've had three games. Wednesday they fell to the Bucks; 105-99. Friday was a win over the Washington Wizards; 103-76. And Saturday was a win over the Knicks; 97-84.
The Wolves will play the Rockets again on Saturday (Feb. 2nd) back at the Target Center. And their last matchup of the season will come on Feb. 17th. Definitely hoping for different results these next few weeks than that 15-point loss a week ago.
There's no reason the Wolves can't beat this team. They've taken down much better teams this season; ie: Mavericks, Spurs and the L.A. Clippers.
Clearly--judging by that last meeting--the person the Wolves need to focus on defending very tightly is Kevin Martin. K-Mart had 31pts in that game--14 of which came in the very first quarter.
The Wolves' other key has to be getting contributions from a variety of places. The last game Kevin Love had to carry the team and responded with a 39-point, 12-rebound night. The Wolves have some key guys back: Martell Webster & Michael Beasley. But, guys like Ricky Rubio, Wesley Johnson & Luke Ridnour all need to pitch in--especially if Adelman keeps them in the starting lineup as the 1, 2, 3. If the Wolves can't get points from other places--we'll be seeing the same result we did a week ago. Though, it shouldn't happen. Since that game, Nikola Pekovic has stepped into the starting center role (with Darko out) and had 14-10 & 13-9 games these past two! Beasley has returned and had 18-12 in that loss to the Lakers.
To counter Martin--I'd expect to see Adelman play a combination of Wes Johnson & Martell Webster against their leading scorer. Hopefully Pekovic will remain in the starting five, even if Darko is available. His scoring and physicality--seems more valuable then Darko's slightly elevated post defense & occasional blocked shot. I could see Adelman putting Beasley back in the starting five--especially since the last game--Wes struggled to defend the 6-10 small forward, rookie Chandler Parsons!
I'm hoping for a few changes to the starting lineup--mainly Beas at small forward and keeping Pek at center. We'll soon find out though. Tipoff is set for 7pmCT.
Thanks for reading HOWL, following the final horn we'll have a full gameday recap right here! GO WOLVES!
I could be writing about how the Timberwolves battled back from 18-down to win it. I could be saying they finally halted that awfully long streak to the Lakers. I could say the TWolves are at .500 for the first time in over 5 years. I could say a lot of things. However, I can only say--the Wolves battled back from 18-down to take a lead in the final minutes of the fourth quarter only to lose to the Lakers 106-101; extending that losing streak to 16-straight vs. the Lakers and moving to 9-11 on the year.
The Lakers' Big Three led the charge for the Lakers as they shook off the TWolves late. Kobe had no problem scoring over/under/around the likes of Wesley Johnson & Martell Webster. Pau was simply to big for Kevin Love--Love was playing good defense on him, but Pau's got about four inches on Kevin. And for Bynum--even Big Pek had trouble defending him in the post.
The Wolves had their chances down the stretch, but their early play eventually buried them in the end. Just imagine the result--if the Wolves didn't dig themselves into an 18-point hole!?
Let's take a look at some key players stats for each team tonight...
The Timberwolves got another stellar performance from Kevin Love--these big scoring outbursts are no longer a surprise--but becoming expected. Michael Beasley came off the bench for the second-straight game and in 30 minutes he had 18pts & 12rebs and during the second half he actually looked interested in moving the ball around--maybe finally understanding that if he dishes to a teammate--maybe on the next possession--they'll return the favor! Pekovic got his second straight start--with Darko out again. Darko warmed up, but said he felt lightheaded and was unable to play. Pek had another solid game. In just 20 minutes he nearly had a second consecutive double-double (which would have been the third of his career).
For the Lakers, it was their Big Three--headlined by Kobe Bryant--who actually out-rebounded Kevin Love by one board. Gasol also had a huge game and was a big part of the Lakers building that 18-point lead in the first half--as he had 14pts in the first quarter! Kobe Bryant didn't really get going till the second half--as he scored 22 of his 35pts in the final two quarters (13 in the third). The Lakers' "Twin Towers" Gasol & Bynum proved to be too much for the Wolves as they pounded them down low. The Wolves definitely missed Darko's interior presence--but that's about all they missed from Darko.
Let's take a look at some team statistics...
When you look at these stats--Minnesota had a lot of positives AND a lot of negatives. Let's get the negatives out of the way first...shall we? The Wolves were bested in every shooting category. The Lakers made the same number of field goals, but on 25 less attempts! Anytime a team shoots over 50% from the field--they should win the game. They made more threes on less attempts and made two more free throws on the same number of attempts. I still can't believe Minnesota took a season-high 104 attempts! That's just 8 attempts away from a franchise record: 112 attempts--set on Dec. 13th 1991 vs. the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Wolves boasted a +11 on the boards and surprisingly they had 16 fast break points AND held the Lakers to 0. They also dominated in the paint with a +14! They had a season-low 4 turnovers--allowing just two baskets off of them! They crushed the Lakers bench by an astounding +27.
Ultimately--when you look at the positives--you realize had they shut down just one of those three guys (Kobe, Pau, Bynum) they could've won this one! They should have won this one!
OTHER NOTES: Brad Miller saw his first game-action this season tonight, playing 8 minutes and scoring 3 points (all at the line 3-4 FT)...This is just the Lakers 2nd road win of the season (2-7)...Tonight was Love's 19th double-double on the year...Martell had 10pts & 5rebs off the bench in 23 min tonight--but did so on 4-15 shooting...
That's all for now. Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Minnesota will face the Lakers for the first time this season come Sunday evening. The Wolves already beat the other Los Angeles team this season (Clippers). Some would say the Clippers are the dominant team of L.A. now, but a trio of Kobe, Gasol & Bynum is still VERY formidable. The only difference between the two being depth--something the Lakers somewhat lack.
The Timberwolves have won two straight following wins over the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs--earlier this week. Two impressive wins over champion-contending teams. But, before you relish in that fact--both teams were missing their best player. The Mavs were without Dirk and the Spurs were without Manu. Still very talented and capable veteran teams--but, now they'll be facing the best shooting guard AND one of the most formidable frontcourts in the NBA! Yes, Kobe Bryant is still #1 beating out Dwayne Wade.
The Lakers--once a franchise powerhouse of the West, has lost one of their key pieces for nothing to the Dallas Mavericks (Lamar Odom) and the pieces they added this season were Jason Kapono, Troy Murphy and Josh McRoberts.
The biggest question going into this game for this one is who will be in the starting lineup. First off--I just can't see Luke Ridnour starting at shooting guard and matching up defensively against Kobe Bryant. I wouldn't rule it out--but I'm not sure it'd make sense. My guess is Wesley Johnson moves to the shooting guard and maybe Michael Beasley returns to the starting lineup or possibly Derrick Williams. The other big question is who starts at center. I'd like to take this time to throw my support to Nikola Pekovic to the starting lineup. If nothing else--I pray Darko is sick again so I can see a powerhouse matchup of Bynum & Pek! If the defensive Darko is healthy I'd expect Adelman to start him against the second-best center in the League: Andrew Bynum. Darko missed practice on Saturday, but IS expected to be able to play on Sunday.
The Lakers have lost eight games this season. They've lost to the Bulls, Kings, Nuggets, Trailblazers, Clippers, Heat, Magic and Pacers. Their last game was a win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. They'll be facing the Bucks today (Saturday)--so unlike the Wolves they'll be playing back-to-back. In that Clippers game, it was a close five-point win over their in-city rivals. Kobe had 24pts, 7rebs & 6ast--Pau had 23pts & 10rebs--Bynum added 19pts and rookie Andrew Goudelock provided 14 off the bench.
The best matchup should be a battle of Western Conference All-Star forwards: Kevin Love vs. Pau Gasol. Pau is a better post scorer and defender and has a couple inches on Love, however Kevin is a far superior mid-range shooter, three-point shooter and rebounder--it should be a good game for both these talented big men. How Kobe matches up with (likely) Wesley Johnson will be interesting as well. Wes has proven to have his best games against Bryant and the Lakers--we'll have to wait and see if that remains true.
The biggest thing for Minnesota will be it's depth. They may not have a superior starting lineup--but they definitely have the better bench and now that they're getting healthier and are getting a lot of those injured players back--guys like Tolliver, J.J. (may not play), Webster, Ellington, Williams, Pekovic & Miller are far superior to the likes of the Lakers bench: Steve Blake, Darius Morris, Andrew Goudelock, Jason Kapono, Metta World Peace (Ron Artest), Devin Ebanks, Luke Walton, Josh McRoberts & Troy Murphy.
The Lakers may be a struggling team--compared to their former glory, but they're still a team that can come out and beat anyone in this League. It should be a good battle of veteran vs. upstart.
Thanks for reading HOWL, we'll have a gameday recap of this one following the final horn as well as some game pictures and videos. GO WOLVES!
For the first time in twelve years--the Minnesota Timberwolves took down the San Antonio Spurs for back-to-back wins in the same season!
The Wolves found themselves down 8 early, but battled back and kept it close through three quarters. Heading into the fourth--the Wolves were tied at 64 with the Spurs. It was a back-and-forth affair in the first 9 minutes of the fourth, but in those final three minutes the Wolves went on a 10-0 run to end the game that sealed the Wolves' ninth win on the year.
Minnesota got some production from some unexpected places. The most notably being Nikola Pekovic. Pek started in place of Darko Milicic at center who wasn't feeling well and didn't play at all in this one. If Pek didn't validate his ability to be the Wolves' starting center tonight--then I don't think he ever will. Nikola scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his second double-double of his career in 33 minutes of play time. I think we can both agree the likes of Tim Duncan and DeJuan Blair are no chumps, but Nikola just outdid them both tonight. Watching Blair play in the past there aren't too many players that can move his 'mass'--excluding of course the 6-11, 290lb. Pekovic who bounced him around like a ragdoll!
This game also marked the return and debut of two more TWolves players. Michael Beasley finally returned after missing 11 consecutive games with a mid-foot sprain he suffered in the first week of January--in a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Beasley played 22 minutes off the bench and had 7pts, 4rebs, 2ast, 1to on 3-of-11 shooting from the field. He still seemed to be forcing his shot too much, like before he stops the ball and tries to isolate--something that hopefully won't fly with Rubio--who'll make him move the ball--or he won't pass Beas the ball! It's good Beasley can create his own shot, but he needs to do so--more in flow with the offense. Another player coming off the bench was Martell Webster who made his 2011-12 NBA season debut. He's been out as he recovers from offseason back surgery on a herniated disc. He played just six minutes in the game tonight, but had a three-pointer, grabbed two rebounds and shot 33% from the field. He'll certainly be getting more time as the season presses on.
There were two other players who were available for tonight's game who didn't play: Anthony Tolliver & Brad Miller. Brad Miller would've/could've made his debut tonight, but didn't get in the game despite Minnesota having just one healthy center on the roster (Pek). I'm not sure why Tolliver didn't play, however. I'd assume it would have something to do with an injury--possibly that sore wrist that was bothering him earlier in the week...but, I don't see Adelman deciding not to play him.
Let's take a look at some of tonight's individual statistics from some key players of each team...
The Minnesota Timberwolves got great production from their two best players: Love & Rubio. Hopefully that's something we'll get to say game-in-and-game-out for years to come. Both had 18pts, Love did his thing on the boards, Rubio dropped his dimes, both limited turnovers and shot high percentages in big chunks of playing time. We talked about Pek before, so I'll take this space to further campaign the big guy for the starting center spot!
For the Spurs, without Manu Ginboli they've relied heavily on Tony Parker. TP had a solid game, but I was pretty shocked to see him finish with just 3 assists--but then I remembered--he's having to do the majority of the scoring for the team and he doesn't have Manu to dump it off to for the easy dime. Duncan shot a horrendous percentage, however he crashed the boards, dished to teammates and blocked 4 shots--getting older, but still can do a lot on the court. Tiago is looking better every game I see him. He basically did all the things Duncan did, slightly fewer boards and blocks, but more points on a higher shooting percentage on less minutes. Richard Jefferson also contributed 10 points--that all came in the first quarter--after that he disappeared...
Let's look at a team comparison of statistics from tonight's game...
Wait a minute...let me get this straight. The Wolves shot 22% from deep, but committed just 10 turnovers (a season-low) 8 of which came in the first half alone--allowed just 8 Spurs points of those turnovers--locked down on defense in the final minutes when it mattered most--AND walked away with an 8-point win over the Spurs? This doesn't sound like any TWolves team I've known, the past five years...and I love that!
The TWolves hammered the Spurs in the paint with a +34, the beat them on the boards with a +12. The Wolves obviously shied away from taking threes and looked to take it inside against the likes of Duncan, Blair, Bonner & Splitter. That alone explains the Spurs' 8 blocks. Starting Pekovic and playing him 33 minutes also explains a big part of the Timberwolves' success in the paint. As long as we're on the subject of Pekovic--I'll take this time to throw my support to the big man for the starting center position.
For the Spurs, they shot higher percentages from deep and from the line, but it was their inability to keep Minnesota out of the paint and off the boards. They were also forced into 12 turnovers and allowed 14 points off them. They did get a lift from their bench who contributed almost half of the team's points tonight.
That's what I've got for now. I'll be putting up the game pictures and updating our stats section tonight. We'll have some videos, quotes & a Lakers gameday preview up tomorrow, so stay tuned for that! Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Friday night the Minnesota will complete the non-traditional "Texas Three Step", playing all three teams out of Texas in the same week--beginning with the Rockets on Monday, the Mavericks on Wednesday and now the Spurs on Friday. The only thing making it non-traditional: the fact that two of the games were home games, not all in Texas as a road trip.
The Timberwolves are coming off an impressive fifteen point win over the defending champion Dallas Mavericks on the night they got their rings--spoiling their night ever so slightly!
The Timberwolves are now 8-10 on the season and are facing a team they've already beaten earlier this year--the Spurs. Their first meeting resulted in a 106-96 win--and was of course the game that Manu Ginobli fractured his hand. Since that loss to Minnesota on January 2nd, the Spurs have gone 9-5, the losses being against the Thunder, Bucks, Heat, Kings & Rockets.
The Spurs' last game was a 22-point drubbing of the Atlanta Hawks. DeJuan Blair & Matt Bonner both had 17pts in that one--as Bonner shot 5-for-7 from deep. In Ginboli's absence the Spurs have started rookie Kawhi Leonard at the forward and had Richard Jefferson play shooting guard--it's obviously been working for them.
The first time these two teams played is the only game this season for the Timberwolves that I didn't watch! The Wolves put themselves up by 14pts on a 10-0 run with just over six minutes left in the third quarter. They cruised to that easy win as San Antonio was without their leading and go-to scorer.
We'll see how many healthy Timberwolves players are able to play vs. San Antonio, I'd expect to see Wesley Johnson a bit more healthy, but beyond him I'm not sure. The Wolves were without six players vs. the Mavericks: J.J. Barea, Luke Ridnour, Michael Beasley, Martell Webster, Brad Miller & Malcolm Lee. I know J.J., Beasley, Miller & Lee won't be playing vs. the Spurs, but for the other two there is a chance they could play. Ridnour has a sprained knee and it and because the Wolves didn't practice on Thursday there's no update on his condition, not sure he'll be back tomorrow, but for Martell--this is his target date, he's set for his return and it sounds like we may get our first look at him this season--no guarantees though.
If Luke Ridnour can't play, Wayne Ellington will get the start once again at shooting guard--which could be a very good thing as he stepped up in the Wolves last game--scoring 16pts. If Wesley Johnson isn't at 100% the Wolves will start Derrick Williams at the small forward again and bring Wes off the bench, though I'd expect if Wes is feeling better he'll start.
The biggest concerns for Minnesota, much like their past few games will be the question of depth. Their lack of depth was painful to watch on Monday vs. Houston, however, when the Timberwolves had the same number vs. Dallas--they showed a different and much more favorable result. The only question is--Which Timberwolves team will we be seeing Friday night vs. the Spurs? Wait, Watch & See, I suppose.
That's all for now, following the final horn the we'll have a full gameday recap of this one. Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
I literally had this post written up 75% of the way and my computer died! So, I'm just going to write a short recap with minimal stats, that I'll update tomorrow afternoon sometime with our usual recap format!
The Mavericks got their rings in a lovely ceremony before this one--spirits were high for players & fans alike as they cheered on their defending champion Dallas Mavericks! That joy and energy was a little spoiled, by the final buzzer--as Minnesota strutted away with a 15-point win over the Mavs.
The Wolves got big contributions from Kevin Love (31pts, 10rebs), Ricky Rubio (17pts, 12ast, 7rebs), Wayne Ellington (16pts)--who started at shooting guard for injured Luke Ridnour (sprained left knee), Darko Milicic (8pts, 7rebs, 7blks) & Nikola Pekovic (13pts, 7rebs, on 80% shooting) off the bench.
With just 8.5 healthy players, the Timberwolves took down a Mavericks team--who was down two starters: Dirk Nowitzki (who's working on strengthening his knee & conditioning) & Vince Carter. The Wolves were without: J.J. Barea (hamstring), Michael Beasley (foot), Luke Ridnour (knee), Brad Miller (knee), Martell Webster (back) & Malcolm Lee (knee)--and Wesley Johnson did play 17 minutes and had 5pts, but was still limited as he's recovering from an illness.
The Wolves started the game off a bit sloppy and that continued somewhat throughout the first half, which allowed the Mavs to take a 10-point lead with just two minutes left in the first half. The Wolves went on an 8-0 run to end the half. They continued their hot streak the entire second half and finished the game on a 62-36 run.
The story for the Wolves was high percentage shooting from the field and beyond the arc and impressively from the free throw line where they shot 85% (28-33). The Mavericks had just 10 free throw attempts on the night and converted just six of them! Darko Milicic tied a career-high for blocks in a game with seven--which was the amount the entire Dallas Mavericks TEAM had! The Mavericks did get great output from their bench--outscoring Minnesota in bench points: 51-23! Though it's not a surprise the TWolves bench didn't score too many considering they had just four reserves!
That's all I've got FOR NOW, I will update this tomorrow sometime, so check back in for that. I'll be posting some pictures and updating the stats page tonight and tomorrow you can get our full gameday recap as well as some quotes & videos. Also--check out our post on Kevin Love's extension which can be found under the news section on this site! FOUR MORE YEARS! Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
The Dallas Mavericks are the Timberwolves first team this season they'll face for the second time. Their first meeting resulted in a 99-82 win over the defending champions. The story there was holding Dallas to just 13 fourth quarter points, while crushing them on the boards 54-35 (a +19).
This time the Wolves are playing in Dallas. Before the game the Mavs will receive their championship rings from last season. Mark Cuban says he specifically chose this game, so that former Maverick and current-Timberwolf J.J. Barea--could participate in the 'ceremony'. J.J. will be going on this one-game road trip, but, it's merely for the ceremony and a social visit--as he won't play with a strained hamstring.
Anthony Tolliver (wrist), Luke Ridnour (sore knee), Wesley Johnson (sick), Darko Milicic (hip) & Brad Miller (knee) didn't practice yesterday and are all listed as questionable for Wednesday's game. I'd expect A.T. & Luke to play, however Darko & Wes, I'm not so sure on. Darko has been bothered with that hip the past few games so they may choose to sit him and I don't think Wes will be feeling better by tomorrow. Brad Miller won't play as he continues to rehab that knee.
Some Timberwolves that have been out that could play include: Michael Beasley (foot) & Martell Webster (back). The Wolves don't want to rush Beas back, but he's said he's feeling better moving on the foot and feels he's regained his explosiveness. If Wes is out, they may opt to bring him back. Martell is very close to debuting and with the lack of depth at guard & forward, we could finally see him this season! If not Wednesday I'd say Friday vs. San Antonio or Sunday vs. the Lakers.
For the Mavericks--they'll be without their best player: Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk is being sat for four games while he works on his conditioning. Lamar Odom has started in his place and he'll be matched up against Kevin Love.
With nine players of fifteen on the injury report, I can honesty say I don't know who to expect in our starting lineup. Ricky Rubio will start at point guard. Either Ridnour or Ellington at shooting guard. Either Johnson, Beasley or Williams will start at small forward. Kevin Love will start at power forward and either Darko Milicic or Nikola Pekovic will be at center. That really narrows it down. Huh?
The Mavericks' best players are Jason Terry & Shawn Marion. Marion & Terry are both capable of going off for 20+ points. Shooting guard & small forward are both positions the Wolves aren't very strong at right now, which could spell trouble for a TWolves team who has now dropped two-straight.
Based on the Wolves' last game vs. Houston, it's clear Minnesota needs someone beyond Kevin Love to step up and score, rebound, assist, block shots etc. Sure, Rubio can drop dimes, but when he shots 20% (2-10) in a game (vs. Houston), that really, really hurts the team. When Darko & Pekovic have big games in the post--both scoring and defending, they provide a big boost for a team that's without a second scoring option--since Beasley has gone down (now missing 10 consecutive games).
Kevin Love may go off for 30-15 against the Mavs on Wednesday, but if everyone else plays like they did (on both sides of the ball) against Houston, it'll be another big loss.
If Minnesota can string a few consecutive wins together they could move up in the conference standings. They currently sit at 11th in the West, but are just three games out of that 8-9 seed! For the first season in a long time, the Timberwolves are buried at the bottom of the conference--as the team's punching bag. If our guys can get healthy within the next week, Minnesota will not only be a better team, but a team with a lot more dimensions. Right now, it's Kevin Love scoring 30 and rebounding 15, while Rubio drops 10 assists..unfortunately, that's about it!
That's all for now, we'll have a full gameday recap following Wednesday's game. I've recently updated the injury report and the stats page, so check out both of those! Thanks for reading HOWL and as always GO WOLVES!
The Minnesota Timberwolves dropped their tenth game of the season as they were defeated by the Houston Rockets; 92-107. This 15-point loss marks the largest loss margin for Minnesota thus far in 2011-12.
Kevin Martin got rolling early and although the Timberwolves were able to battle back and even take a lead at one point in the second half, the Rockets never stopped executing on the offensive end and continued to step up on the defensive end as the game went on. By the final quarter, it seemed the only Timberwolf interested in playing was Kevin Love who dumped in 39pts and grabbed 12 boards.
By the final quarter it wasn't just physical fatigue. I think we can assume that was a big part of it, considering the Wolves had just 9 healthy players. However, it was mental fatigue, as well. No matter what the Wolves did, everytime they scored--the Rockets would run down and throw in an easy bucket--at some point, they apparently gave up...
The Wolves were again without J.J. Barea, Michael Beasley, Malcolm Lee, Brad Miller & Martell Webster. They also lost Wesley Johnson, who missed the game with an illness. No, word yet on his return--though I should have something in our injury report by tomorrow--same with the other five players! Stay tuned for that!
With Wesley Johnson out, the Wolves gave rookie Derrick Williams his first NBA start of his career. He matched up against rookie Chandler Parsons and finished with 11pts & 7rebs in 37 minutes--I won't lie, I was definitely expecting more from him tonight...
Let's take a look at some individual statistics from some of tonight's key players for each team...
Kyle Lowry contributed a double-double, K-Mart tossed in 31pts on just under 50% shooting and the Rockets cruised. They also got a big lift from their bench unit--guys like Goran Dragic & Patrick Patterson--who helped to close the game out in the second half.
For the Wolves--All You Need is Love! Boy, do I wish that were true! Kevin Love delivered one of the best games of his career and it was all for none as no one else stepped up OR seemed to interesting in stepping up. They did get 17pts from Ridnour, but beyond him--they just looked lost out there! Looking at the statistics: Kevin Love shot 68% from the field (13-19) while the rest of the team shot 33% (20-61)! Clearly, Kevin Love needs some help out there. Ricky Rubio did have 12 assists in the game, but he also shot 20% from the field (2-10), scoring just 6pts, and committed 5 turnovers in 38 minutes. Obviously, when the plethora of injured TWolves return--that could REALLY help--guys like Michael Beasley (someone who can create his shot), J.J. Barea who provides great depth at the guard. As well as Martell Webster, Brad Miller & Malcolm Lee returning--guys we haven't seen this season (did see one game of Lee in the second preseason game vs. Milwaukee in mid-December.
Let's take a look at some team comparison statistics...
The Wolves actually shot a decent percentage in all areas, rebounded the ball well and had plenty of ball movement--a good amount of assists. However, they got beat on the break (as usual), a +11 in those. It was a fairly even matchup in the paint, however--like the past two games, Darko & Pekovic didn't have big games, scoring points in the post. Then it comes down to the two biggest problems for the Wolves tonight. 1.) Bench Points. The Wolves had only nine healthy players out there--that means everyone needed to contribute--ultimately, everyone didn't! The Rockets' second unit--led by Dragic, Patterson & Lee dominated the Wolves and closed this one out. 2.) Turnovers. After a short stretch of limiting team turnovers the Wolves took a GIANT leap backwards. They turned the ball over 20 times and allowed 27 points off them! Way too many unforced turnovers and just stupid passes and poor execution. Not a good job of handling and controlling the ball.
Long story short? Kevin Love can't score all 100pts a night! He needs some help out there. Everyone else needs to take a BIG step up! Love also needs to continue to contribute 20-30 points a night, while shooting a high percentage.
Lastly, an update on McHale & Flynn's return to the Twin Cities as well as Rick Adelman facing his former team. The executive/occasional coach of the Timberwolves for over 15 years, responsible for drafting the likes of Kevin Garnett, Wally Szczerbiak, Kevin Love etc. returned and it was surprising to hear the Target Center crowd boo the man--who was once a cornerstone of this franchise! Jonny Flynn did not play in the game (coach's decision). He's been unable to get minutes behind Lowry & Dragic. Rick Adelman was up against his former team--he helped build and develop over his tenure in Houston while his star players (T-Mac & Yao) spent the majority of the time injured.
That's all I've got for now, we'll have a few videos and pictures up within the next day or so as well as an updated stats & injury report page(s). Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
The Wolves are back in the Twin Cities at the Target Center, following that two-game road trip. The first stop was L.A. to face the Clippers, who, Minnesota took down on a buzzer-beating game-winner by Kevin Love to win 101-98. The very next day the Wolves squared off against division rivals: Utah Jazz. They were able to stay close through 3.5 quarters, but in the final minutes of the game the TWolves offense went stagnant and the defense seemed disengaged, they ended up dropping that one 98-108, halting a three-game win streak.
The Timberwolves had the day off Sunday to recover. So, they should be ready for Kevin McHale's return to the Twin Cities--and, of course Adelman will be up against his former team. A lot of different story lines with these two teams and--the majority of them have nothing to do with the players!
Minnesota is sitting at 7-9 on the season, they've had their rough games, but, so far this season they have yet to lose a game by more than 11 points. In nine losses; they've dropped two by 11pts, two by 10pts, two by 4pts, one by 3pts & two by 2pts! Had they executed better in a few of those games those 2-4 point losses could've turned their record to 12-4, that would easily move them into the top ranks of the Western Conference. Their wins have been by some varying margins; they've won one game by each of these margins: 3pts, 7pts, 8pts, 10pts, 13pts & 21pts.
The Houston Rockets are currently 9-7 on the year. Looking at their scores, the majority of their losses have come by double-digit deficits. On the other hand--the majority of their losses have come by narrow margins. Also, they've already played in three overtimes this season--of which they're 2-1 this season.
A new coach, but ultimately the same roster from past season for Houston. The biggest changes? Instead of starting Chase Budinger at small forward, McHale has instead decided to go with rookie Chandler Parsons. Parsons is playing just 22.3mpg, but is averaging 6.9ppg, 5.5rpg and 1.1spg. The other big change? The Rockets' starting center. Chuck Hayes left via free agency, now playing for the Sacramento Kings. The Rockets signed Samuel Dalembert for their starting big man. Dalembert, of course--was the Kings' starting big man last season (essentially swapping Dalembert for Hayes). Dalembert is a great defensive presence in the post and may end Darko & Pek's hot streak they've had going in the post on offense.
Tonight is not only McHale's return to the Target Center, but also former TWolves point guard Jonny Flynn. Flynn has played just 5 games this season as he's had to compete for the reserve point guard spot with Goran Dragic. Brad Miller was the player traded for Flynn this past summer and there's a chance he could make his debut for the Wolves on Monday--against his former team.
Beyond Miller, Martell Webster could also play in his first game this season--he's back at practice and if he doesn't play Monday there's a good chance his first game will be this week sometime. Michael Beasley will miss his tenth consecutive game with a mid-foot sprain. J.J. didn't play at all in the weekend road trip as he stayed back in the Cities with a sore ankle, he's expected to return and will be a big boost for the Timberwolves backcourt off the bench.
Houston has a couple of guys labeled as day-to-day with some minor injuries. Courtney Lee is playing through a calf injury, he's coming off the bench averaging close to 10ppg. Jordan Hill is recovering from the flu. He played 8 minutes off the bench in their last game vs. the Spurs and will likely be available for Monday's matchup. Lastly, Dalembert is playing through an ankle injury, he played 33 minutes in the game vs. San Antonio scoring 12pts, grabbing 8 boards and had 6 blocked shots.
For the Rockets, Kyle Lowry has played VERY well this season averaging 16.5ppg, 6.6rpg, 8.6apg. The Rockets' best players include: Lowry, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola & Samuel Dalembert. Those core group of guys provide the majority of points. Their small forward is a bit of a revolving door--right now it's Chandler Parsons, but they've also had Terrence Williams & Chase Budinger starting at the three.
For Minnesota, they'll have at least 11 healthy players--potentially 13, which would be the most they've had this season--barring returns from J.J. Barea (likely) and Martell Webster & Brad Miller (questionable).
These two teams match up fairly well. I'd say the Rockets are ultimately stronger and every position excluding power forward and possibly small forward (all depending on which Wesley Johnson decides to show up!). However, with Minnesota's second unit headlined by Tolliver, Pekovic, Ellington, Barea & Williams--they seem to always be good for 20-35 points a game.
Ultimately, I see Minnesota defending the home court. Expect a TWolves victory. Rick Adelman & Brad Miller defeating their former team. Kevin McHale & Jonny Flynn to leave the Cities--once again--with a loss! Final score? Wolves: 94, Rockets: 86.
That's all for now. Tipoff is set for 7pmCT from the Target Center--a full gameday recap of that one can be found on this site following the final horn--as well as pictures, video & stats update Monday night. Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!