The Minnesota Timberwolves came in hoping Kobe Bryant couldn't play and expecting Kevin Love being able to go, after suffering a rib contusion Tuesday night vs. the Clippers. Well, Kobe played and Love was out with "flu-like symptoms".
If you need more evidence of the "Effect of Love", tonight was a pretty clear example. The TWolves were beat in the paint and on the boards (we'll get to some full team stats in a moment, though).
Just like that last meeting, the play of the Lakers' "Big Three" (Kobe, Gasol, Bynum) was key for the Lakers as they combined for 59pts, 25rebs & 23-42 FG (55%).
Minnesota fell to 3-9 tonight, with 0 days of rest, while they're 15-9 this season with at 1+ day(s) of rest. The Timberwolves' 85 points is their 2nd lowest scoring output of the season. The lowest being 1/8 vs. the Grizzlies, when they scored 80.
The Wolves' 15 third quarter points is a new season-low. That third quarter is when the Lakers really seized control. They began the third on a 9-0 run and ended the quarter on a 17-5 run to take a 83-59 lead after three quarters. During that third quarter, the Lakers took a 27-point lead, which is the largest deficit the TWolves have faced this season! Previous high is 24 points on 1/10 vs. the Bulls. It's also only the 4th game this season the TWolves have trailed by 20 points or more.
The Wolves were down by 19 points in the final quarter and had battled back a bit, stringing together a run. Apparently Lakers coach Mike Brown decided to put his starters back in with just 6:30 to go (LAL up 70-89). The Wolves basically played their subs for the last half of the third and all of the fourth, we saw Anthony Tolliver, Anthony Randolph & Wayne Ellington, guys who've fallen out of Adelman's rotation.
Kevin Love was out prior to the game with those flu-like symptoms, but they also had two players go down during this one. Luke Ridnour jammed his fingers at the end of the first half, he didn't start the second half, but did return. Adelman said he wanted to go with a bigger lineup to start the second half and THAT was the reason Martell started. J.J. Barea played just 10 minutes and apparently strained his right calf and didn't return at that point.
Let's take a look at some key players' individual stats for each team in tonight's game...
I, like every other TWolves fan, was hoping D-Will & Beas would continue their hot shooting at the Staples Center. That wasn't quite the case. Beas finished with 14 in 24 minutes on 46% shooting & Williams (who started in place of Love) finished with 10 in 23 minutes on 50% shooting. Anytime Martell Webster leads the Wolves in scoring, it isn't likely they're walking away with a W, he did have a solid game tonight, though (those 14pts are a new season-high, previous 11 vs. the Clippers...last night). Nikola Pekovic played the most of any TWolves player: 26 minutes, finishing with 10pts, 7rebs, 1ast & 2stls.
You'll hear plenty from every other website about the "Masked Mamba" and how great he played despite the injury...yaddah, yaddah, yaddah. However, there's just one thing I want to say and I may get laughed at for it: Wesley Johnson played solid D in the first half vs. Kobe. Kobe had just 10pts at halftime. He scored 14 in the 3rd quarter and 7 in the fourth to finish with 31. Bynum's 13 & 13 is his 22nd double-double of the season which is a new career-high for him in double-doubles in a season (previously 21--last season).
Let's take a look at the team stats from tonight's game...
Just like that last meeting, the Wolves didn't shoot a high percentage in any category and the Lakers did! Sure, the Lakers only hit 5 of 21 threes attempted, but their 49% from the field and 41 made field goals was a key in this one for a Lakers win. As I said before, the Lakers beat the TWolves in the paint and on the boards, thanks in large part to the absence of Love. L.A. posted only a +4 on the boards, but owned the paint with a +14.
Some comparison from these two teams' last meeting: the Lakers didn't have any fast break points in that first meeting this season, tonight they had 16! The Timberwolves only turned the ball over 4 times, which led to 4 Lakers' points. Tonight they met that mark in the first quarter and finished with 14 turnovers, allowing the Lakers to score 11 off them.
That's all I've got for now. Check our Injury Report soon for an update on Kevin Love as well as J.J. Barea (and potentially Luke Ridnour). Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
The Minnesota Timberwolves are looking to snap an NBA-high 16-game losing streak vs. the Lakers (TWolves also have a 16-game losing streak vs. Portland). They're also looking to beat both Los Angeles teams for the first time since the 2004-05 season! No matter tonight's result the Minnesota Timberwolves have strung back-to-back winning months for the first time since in almost seven years! This February they've gone 8-6, which was after they went 10-8 in January, the last time was March/April of 2005!
The Timberwolves' last win over the Lakers came on March 6th, 2007 and the last time they've won at the Staples Center versus the Lakers was December 5, 2005. Over these 16 consecutive losses, the Lakers have outscored Minnesota by an average of 107.4-95.5.
During this 16-game skid, Kobe Bryant has averaged 27.2ppg, but the TWolves may get lucky, as Kobe may not be able to play. If you haven't heard already, he broke his nose on a hard foul from Dwayne Wade, however that's not the problem. The problem is he also has a concussion and because of the NBA's Concussion Policy, Bryant may be forced to sit. According to that policy, to play, a player must: 1.) be symptom-free, 2.) make it through increasing stages of exertion, & 3.) be cleared by NBA neurologist. According to the most recent update via ESPN, Kobe will be a game-time decision. If Kobe is unable to play, Brown is considering Devin Ebanks, Jason Kapono or Steve Blake.
While it would be great if Kobe can't play, the TWolves have a big injury problem of their own to deal with. Kevin Love suffered what the TWolves injury staff is calling a rib contusion. He got X-rays today that showed everything was fine, but Love said there's a lot of bruising and inflammation. He fully expects to play, the problem is how limited he'll be. He went down with the injury on a shove from behind from Randy Foye last night vs. the Clippers. He returned to the bench in the fourth quarter, wearing a padded shirt under his jersey, but didn't have to come back into the game as Derrick Williams and Michael Beasley dominated the Clippers in the fourth quarter for the win. Expect Love to play & start--likely wearing the padded shirt, as well, definitely keep an eye on him though. With the Lakers' big bodies (Pau & Bynum), Love may look to play more of a faceup game and stick with mid-range and three-point shots tonight (has been getting more involved in the paint this season, though).
In the last meeting between these two back in late-January, the Timberwolves were actually down by 18 at one point, though they battled back in the final minutes of the game, took the lead, but ultimately lost 106-101 at the Target Center.
The Lakers shot 51% in that game (40-79), while the TWolves shot just 39% (40-104) from the field. However, Minnesota did out-rebound the Lakers 52-41, they beat them in fast break points 16-0, the TWolves' bench outscored L.A.'s 42-15 and the Wolves controlled the paint; 56-42. Minnesota also had a season-low 4 team turnovers as well as a season-low in points of turnovers, allowing just 4!
In that game the TWolves got 33pts & 13rebs from Love, 18pts & 12rebs from Beas (off the bench) and it was just Pek's second start of the season as he played only 20 minutes but had 12pts & 9rebs. Speaking of Pek, in the post-game Andrew Bynum said something to the effect of: "Thank God, they took out Pekovic when they did!" Expect a good battle between these two tonight!
For the Lakers, Kobe lead the way with 35pts & 14rebs, Pau added 28pts & 6rebs, while Bynum also had 21pts & 7rebs. Ultimately if the TWolves can stop one of the Lakers' "Big Three" they have a good chance of winning this one. Stats don't lie: Kobe: 28.4ppg, 4.9apg, 1.3spg; Pau: 17.0ppg, 10.6rpg, 1.2bpg; Bynum: 16.3ppg, 12.8rpg, 2.0bpg (these are season averages).
This will be the second meeting of four total this season, the Wolves will face them again at the Target Center on March 9th and again on March 16th--back at the Target Center.
The TWolves will be looking to move to 19-17 on the year as well as 9-7 on the road. While the Lakers looked to push their record to 21-14 and 15-2 at home.
MISC. NOTES: Last night vs. the Clippers, Minnesota won it's 5th game of the season when trailing after three quarters. In the past two seasons, with Rambis at the helm, the Wolves went 6-116 in the same situation.......Ricky Rubio hasn't recorded a double-digit assist game since Feb. 7th vs. the Kings (when he had 14), he had 13 double-digit assist games in the Wolves' first 25 games......Over the past two games the TWolves have hit 21 of 44 shots from three (48%), over their previous 15 games they shot just 27%....
That's all for now, tipoff is set for 9:30pmCT from Staples Center in Los Angeles, enjoy the game and check back for a full gameday recap following the final horn. Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
For the past couple weeks we've heard plenty of speculation surrounding Michael Beasley & Derrick Williams. There've been trade rumors that have Beasley going to the Lakers, Celtics & Nets and at least one reported deal that would send D-Will to Orlando. Tonight they proved they're anything, but 'expendable'. They each scored 27 points apiece which was part of the 72 bench points Minnesota scored (a season-high & and NBA-season high!) (franchise record is 74). Their contributions in the fourth quarter sealed the win for Minnesota as the Wolves had their second unit out there to close out the Clippers (who were playing their starters), which allowed Rick Adelman to keep his key guys/starters (Rubio, Love, Pek) on the bench. Both Beasley & Williams had 13 points apiece in that fourth quarter, 26 total (of Minnesota's 36 fourth quarter points). I mean, I could honestly go on and on about their contributions tonight, perhaps we'll highlight some other things as well though...
The TWolves got off to a rough start and yet, they were inexplicably only down by three points at halftime, after two quarters of less-than-impressive play. The Clippers were up nine points after the first quarter, after Blake Griffin exploded for 18 of their 31 first quarter points. Thanks to the efforts of Darko Milicic late in the fourth and in the second quarters, as Blake had just 12 points the remaining three quarters, only 2 in the final quarter. Chris Paul did his best to get his team the W and had 10 of his 27 points in that final quarter, but, the hot shooting of the Wolves' versatile forward combo: Beas & D-Will, 54 points from those two as well as 11 from Webster was enough for the Timberwolves to move to 2-0 vs. the L.A. Clippers this season.
With this win the Timberwolves are now tied at 9th in the Western Conference and are now just 0.5 game(s) out of the 8th seed, they also tie Denver for 3rd in the Northwest Division with matching 18-17 records (also tied with Denver in the Western Conference [9th]).
Let's take a look at some of tonight's key players individual stats from tonight's game...
Derrick & Michael did incredible, but they came up big in the second half. At halftime, Williams had 11pts and 3rebs on 5-6 shooting and 1-1 from deep. That means in the final two quarters he scored another 16pts, added 2rebs, and shot a perfect 4-4 from the field, 3-of-3 of that came from three! Beasley had 9pts, 2rebs and was 4-8 FG and 1-1 from deep at haltime. Which means he added 18pts, 3rebs, and shot 7-of-7 from the field and 2-2 from deep! Incredible performances for these two versatile forwards! Kevin Love, who went down with an injury (what the training staff called a rib contusion) played just 25 minutes, and had 10pts on 4-of-13 shooting and 7rebs & 2ast, according to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune, Love says he'll definitely play tomorrow vs. the Lakers!
For the Clippers, it was the opposite. They had great performances from Griffin & Paul at the half, but faltered in the second half as the Wolves ran away with the win. 24 of Griffin's 30 total points came in the first half as he was held to just 6 points over the final two quarters. Paul was consistent all night, scoring 13 in the first half & 14 in the second half. Ultimately, a big key to the TWolves' victory was Darko & Pek locking down on Blake in the second half!
Do we really need to further highlight what the keys to this W was tonight? Clearly it was Minnesota's hot shooting from the field and especially from deep as they closed out L.A. in the fourth as well as that 72-11 advantage in bench production. With 27 each Beas & D-Will combined from 54, Webster added 11 (7 of which came in the 4th), Barea (who last game [vs. UTA] had 22pts) added 6 and Darko rounded it out with a free throw. They also limited turnovers against a very good defensive Clippers squad. Minnesota's 27 assists is also a season-high!
That's all I've got for now. The TWolves are back in action tomorrow vs. the Lakers (right back in the same building, so hopefully D-Will & Beas continue their hot shooting at the Staple Center...we'll get to that in the preview tomorrow, though). Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
I pray the TWolves got plenty of rest over the All-Star weekend, because from Tuesday's game vs. the Clippers till the end of March the Wolves' schedule is pretty BRUTAL!
Beginning on Tuesday the TWolves will start a back-to-back-to-back set (Clippers on Tuesday, Lakers on Wednesday & the Suns on Thursday). The Wolves will play 19 total games from 1/28-3/30, 13 of those games are on the road, leaving just 6 games played at home. Following these three consecutive games, the Wolves return home and from 3/5-3/10 they play four games at home. Hopefully they have a successful homestand, because following that they play 7 games on the road, from 3/12-3/23!
The Timberwolves had three players represented Minnesota at All-Star Weekend. Ricky Rubio was a part of the Rising Stars Challenge, Derrick Williams joined Ricky in that and also participated in the Slam Dunk Contest and of course, Kevin Love won the Three-Point Contest and played on the Western Conference All-Star Team. Two Clippers joined Love at the ASG; Chris Paul & Blake Griffin both started for the West, Griffin was also a part of the Rising Stars Challenge.
The last time the TWolves played the Clippers, it was a 101-98 win for Minnesota as we saw a thrilling conclusion courtesy of Kevin Love as he nailed a three-pointer as time expired to give Minnesota the W! In that game, the Clips were without Chris Paul who was dealing with a hamstring injury, in his place Chauncey Billups started at point guard and former-TWolf Randy Foye started at shooting guard. Paul will be back for this matchup and Billups won't be (out for the season with an achilles injury), Randy Foye will likely start in the backcourt with Paul. That last game, the Clips were also without Caron Butler, no doubt having him back will be a big boost for this team, as well.
Here's a recap of that last matchup between these two (1/21).
The Wolves entered the All-Star break at .500 on the season, 17-17. They're also at .500 on the road (7-7) and at home (10-10). The Clippers went into All-Star break at 20-11 (and a 3rd seed in the Western Conference), the Clips are also 12-4 at home (with one of those losses at the Staples Center coming to Minny!).
While the Clips will look a bit different from these two teams last meeting, so will the TWolves. In that game back in January Darko Milicic was still starting at center as the "Pek-Citement" hadn't yet begun! The Wolves were also without depth in that game as J.J. Barea & Michael Beasley were out with injuries and Martell Webster & Brad Miller hadn't even played a game, yet this season. The Clips lost Billups but got, arguably their best player back, while the TWolves will be getting their bench back and we get to see the matchup of two very different centers. A big bruiser Nikola Pekovic who relies on his physicality and soft touch in the paint against DeAndre Jordan who relies on his athleticism. An interesting side note, Darko lead the Wolves in scoring in these two teams' matchup with 22 points! Imagine what Pek might do? Pek is more of an offensive player while Jordan is more of a defensive player, definitely the matchup to keep an on eye...well that one and Chris Paul vs. Ricky Rubio & Blake Griffin vs. Kevin Love!
Tuesday's game will also be another chance for us to decide...who's the better power forward. Blake Griffin or Kevin Love. I don't think you'll get much argument that Love & Griffin are the top 2 power forwards in this League! Especially with Dirk having an off year! Last game Griffin had the very slightly better stats, however Love's game-winner was seen by many as the deciding factor in who won that matchup. Take Two should be fun against these two Western Conference All-Stars!
Hope you'll be able to stay awake for tomorrow's game as tipoff is set for 9:30pmCT. Enjoy the game, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Through the first half the Minnesota Timberwolves seemed to be a team that was already on vacation! The Wolves got down early--at one point the Jazz had the lead pushed to 18! The Wolves took a timeout and the Target Center crowd was actually booing the Wolves. They exchanged runs in the third quarter, but the Wolves took control in the fourth and came all the way back to win it at the buzzer!
Utah started the game on a 12-2 run. The Jazz actually scored their first 20 points--all in the paint! To begin the second quarter neither team scored for the first 2.5 minutes. That didn't last long as the Jazz were able to push that lead to 18, which led to the boos during that timeout. Adelman subbed in his three guard lineup: J.J. Barea, Luke Ridnour & Ricky Rubio to go along with Kevin Love & Nikola Pekovic. Those three guards scored 8-straight points for the Wolves to cut the lead to 10 (3 from J.J., 3 from Ricky, 2 from Ridnour). At halftime the Wolves still found themselves down by 12; 49-37.
At halftime the TWolves had 11 turnovers and the Jazz had 10 steals!
To begin the second half Pekovic scored 6-straight points for the Wolves (after making no field goals in the first half--scored all points on 4-of-4 FT-shooting). That got the Wolves going and they were actually able to cut the lead to just 3 points with 8 minutes to go in the third quarter. That didn't last too long though. Utah went on an 8-0 run to make it 63-52. After three quarters the Jazz still found themselves ahead; 77-64.
Minnesota went on a BIG run midway through the final quarter and they found themselves down just two points, following a putback from Derrick Williams. Minnesota put together a 14-2 run over 7.5 minutes. Utah, also went without a field goal in over five minutes as the TWolves cut into the lead. Then, with 56 seconds to play Derrick Williams grabbed a rebound, was fouled on a shot, made it and then made the and-one at the line, that tied the game at 93! The Wolves would stop the Jazz and then they'd have to foul Minnesota, sending them to the line to shoot free throws. With 23.3 seconds to play Minnesota was up by one; 97-96. Out of a timeout the Jazz fouled Rubio who hit 1 of 2 free throws to make it 98-96 with 22.3 seconds to play. The Jazz took a timeout and out of the timeout Al Jefferson hit a 20-foot jumper to tie it up 98-all, with just 7 seconds to play. Out of a TWolves timeout the Wolves got the ball to Ridnour who drove the lane and hit a floater as time expired, TWOLVES WIN 100-98!
Tonight was the TWolves' biggest comeback win of the season: 18pts (prev. best 16pts.). The Wolves outscored the Jazz 36-21 in the final quarter to steal this one. It was the first quarter that got the Wolves down (almost for good), outscoring Minnesota 27-15 in the first.
I had the 'pleasure' of watching the game on the Jazz network and according to them Kevin Love was completely healthy for this game and Paul Millsap is the NBA's greatest player! For the first three quarters all you heard was how Love didn't deserve to be an all-star and Millsap did! As far as the healthy part if you watched Kevin Love on the bench he had towels over his head and face and looked like he needed a nice LONG nap. In the game he looked slow and not like himself, ultimately he was completely fatigued (playing 40+mpg for how nigt after night). He finished with a season-low 10 points, but still finished with a double-double (10pts, 10rebs) for his 30th double-double of the season.
The Timberwolves move to 17-17 on the season (.500), 10-10 at the Target Center (.500) and they're, of course, 7-7 on the road (.500). Not a bad way to head into the all-star break.
J.J.'s 22 points is a new season-high (previously 16). Williams had all 13 of his points and 6 of his rebounds in the fourth quarter. He was an instrumental in putting away Utah in that final quarter. Definitely a breakout game for the young rook.
Josh Howard's 19 points matches his season high. He looked like the J-How of old (back in his Maverick days), defense, offense--everything looked solid. As suspected the Jazz big men were a big part of the team's offense & defense. Millsap & Jefferson combined for 43pts, 20rebs, 3ast, 3blks, 5stls, 18-37 FG (49% FG), 7-7 FT.
The Timberwolves finished with 18 turnovers leading to 16 Jazz points. The Jazz also pounded Minnesota in the paint: 58-30. The Jazz's 15 steals are the second-most steals for a Timberwolves opponent this season (high is 16 on 12/30 vs. MIA). The TWolves beat the Jazz on the boards, however, thanks to Love, Pek & D-Will; 48-41. Minnesota shot 11-22 from three and that was another HUGE key in the Wolves winning.
That's all for now, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
The Timberwolves are coming off a very disappointing overtime loss to the Denver Nuggets on Monday, but they'll be facing another division rival: the Utah Jazz, on Wednesday night, back at the Target Center.
The Wolves are currently 16-17 this season and with a win on Wednesday they'll move back to .500 on the season. The Wolves are currently 7-7 on the road this season (.500). But, they'll be playing at the Target Center on Wednesday, where they're 9-10 on the year! So, a win vs. the Jazz will put the TWolves at .500 on the road, at home and overall! A W over the Jazz would also be the TWolves' first win over a division opponent this season (with unsuccessful attempts vs. OKC, UTA & DEN).
The Jazz also played on Monday. They too lost. The San Antonio Spurs defeated them 106-102. Al Jefferson had 20pts & 11rebs, Millsap added 16pts & 11rebs. It came down to the final seconds but a three-pointer from the Spurs' Richard Jefferson put the Spurs up with just 6.5 seconds to play, giving San Antonio the win.
Utah's usual starting five includes, PG: Devin Harris, SG: Raja Bell, SF: Gordon Hayward, PF: Paul Millsap, C: Al Jefferson. However, vs. the Spurs, because Raja Bell is currently nursing a groin injury, Josh Howard started in his place. Bell is listed as a gametime decision for Wednesday's game, but if he can't play--expect Howard to start, once again.
For Minnesota, they may be without two of their centers. Darko Milicic missed Monday's game vs. the Nuggets with a stomach muscle ailment. He's currently listed as day-to-day and is considered doubtful for this one. Nikola Pekovic is also nursing an injury. Pek went down in the second quarter of Monday's game with a sprained ankle. He's currently listed as questionable vs. the Jazz. They say they'll know if he'll be able to play during the shootaround on Wednesday morning/afternoon. If he can't play, Brad Miller may start at center or Adelman may choose to start a frontcourt of Love at center and either Derrick Williams or Michael Beasley at power forward. Wouldn't be bad matchups either: Love vs. Jefferson & D-Will/Beas vs. Millsap.
The Jazz are currently averaging 96.1ppg (11th in the NBA), while allowing opponents 97.6 (24th in the NBA). They're also considered an average rebounding and assisting team: 42.4rpg (15th) & 20.6apg (17th).
In the last meeting between these two, the Timberwolves were able to stay close all game, however the TWolves' offense went stagnant in the fourth quarter and the Jazz rallied to take down Minnesota. That was the first game Kevin Love was unable to register a double-double, finishing with just 15pts & 8rebs. Minnesota needs four solid quarters to take down a Jazz team that's lost seven of their last 9 games.
This one will come down to the battle in the paint, especially if Nikola Pekovic is able to play! It'll come down to limiting Paul Millsap & Al Jefferson. Other guys like Devin Harris or Gordon Hayward may have a good outing, but limiting the big guys will be key.
Wednesday's game will be the Timberwolves' last game before the All-Star break. The Timberwolves will have Thursday-Monday off. Kevin Love, Derrick Williams & Ricky Rubio will be down in Orlando participating in: the All-Star Game, Three-Point Contest, Slam Dunk Contest & the Rising Stars Challenge. The Timberwolves will return from their time off with their second and last back-to-back-to-back: Tuesday (2/28) vs. the L.A. Clippers, Wednesday (2/29) vs. the L.A. Lakers, concluded by Thursday (3/1) vs. the Phoenix Suns.
A win would drop Utah to 5th in the Northwest and move Minnesota to 4th. It would also put Minnesota just half a game back in the Western Conference to the 9th place Trailblazers. The Blazers of course beat the Spurs on Tuesday night 137-97!
MISC. NOTES: Utah's Jeremy Evans will reportedly be competing in the Slam Dunk Contest this weekend as he replaces New York's Iman Shumpert. Evans joins Derrick Williams, Paul George & Chase Budinger....the NBA named Utah's Derrick Favors to the Rising Stars Challenge as a replacement to the injured Tiago Splitter, a spot that could have been Nikola Pekovic's. I'm not sure if the NBA didn't give him the spot because of the ankle injury or if they just overlooked him as the rest of the NBA continues to do as they're caught up in "Linsanity"...
That's all for now. Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Tonight, I witnessed one of the stupidest plays of the season for Minnesota, it came in the final seconds of overtime...but we'll get to that in just a bit.
This one was probably one of the most physical matchups of the season, thus far for Minnesota. Despite Denver playing without Nene Hilario, Danilo Gallinari & Rudy Fernandez, then losing Ty Lawson in the second quarter with a sprained ankle and then in the third quarter losing Andre Miller who was "T'd" up and then ejected. Arron Afflalo also rolled his ankle but played through it. There's no doubt the Nuggets are looking forward to the all-star break to get healthy.
The Wolves got off to a hot start, accumulating a 14-point lead at one point in the first half before the Nuggets came storming back to put themselves up by five at the half; 51-46.
Pekovic started off hot and had 7pts & 7rebs (6orebs), 1ast & 1blk. He didn't play too long in the second quarter, however as he went down with a sprained ankle and didn't return. That was a big loss for Minnesota. Milicic wasn't with the team because of a stomach muscle injury, so Brad Miller started the second half, but for the majority of the rest of the game Kevin Love played center. With Pek out, that left the Wolves without the big guy down low taking up space, which allowed for a guy like Kenneth Faried to crash the boards and get his team extra buckets on offense and limit second chance points for Minnesota. Kevin Love is one of, if not the best, rebounder in the NBA, but tonight he was just outhustled and outmuscled by Faried & the Nuggs.
Watching Faried, he's a physical player, but in all the wrong ways, not really a dirty player, but I'm not sure how else to explain it. I counted at least seven fouls on him where he was throwing guys like Love or Martell to the floor or climbing up guys' back, which should have been clear over the back fouls. I won't argue too much though, Minnesota got a lot of calls to go their way.
After the Nuggets fought back after they got down 30-18 in the first quarter, it was a back-and-forth affair between these two. The most the Nuggets pushed the lead to was 10pts. By the end of three quarters, Denver was up 76-73, heading into the final quarter.
With 1:50 left in the fourth the Wolves were up 93-90, but 20 seconds later a three from Al Harrington (3 of his 31 on the night) tied the game at 93. With 17 seconds to play, it was Nuggets ball. They decided to play for the last shot. Arron Afflalo missed a 17ft. jumper at the buzzer and for the second night in a row the Nuggets were heading to overtime.
Overtime went scoreless for each team, until Al Harrington hit a fallaway two-point jumper with 1:55 to play. Rubio responded on the next possession on a driving layup, to tie the game once again; 95-all. A few empty trips for each team followed, but with 33.7 seconds to play Afflalo hit a layup over Luke Ridnour to put his team up two. At the other end on an inbound-play, the Wolves executed a VERY effective play that left Ridnour with a wide-open layup...that he missed! But, don't worry that isn't the stupid play I refer to before...unfortunately, it gets worse. With 17 seconds to play Brewer got the inbound and was fouled, he made two free throws to put Denver up 99-95 with just 16.6 seconds to play. Love drove the lane on the next play and was fouled by Harrington and hit two free throws to put the Wolves down just two, again. Afflalo went to the line again after a foul on the inbound, made another two to make it 97-101 with 13.6 seconds to play, Minnesota took a timeout. Out of the timeout, Love threw up a three that missed, Julyan Stone was then fouled and sent to the line with 8.8 seconds to go. He made 1 of 2 free throws to give Denver a five-point lead. Luke Ridnour drove the lane on the next play and fell flat on his face, the refs called a foul and he hit two free throws at the line to cut the lead to just three with 4.9 seconds to play. Denver took a timeout and out of the timeout came the Wolves' stupidest play of the season. Webster stole the inbound pass and dribbled up court, instead of pulling up and shooting a three to tie the game as the clock ticked, Webster drove the lane and dunked it. That left the Wolves down just one, but just 1.3 seconds to play. Denver inbounded and was fouled, but there was then just 0.5 seconds to play. Corey Brewer went to the line and sealed the win with 1 of 2 at the line. A heave at the buzzer by Webster missed and the Wolves lost their only overtime game they've played this season.
That play by Webster was definitely a mistake and Martell acknowledged that on his Twitter account following the game: "To everyone out there I feel your pain. I will learn from this. All of your thoughts and opinions are appreciated!!! All I can do is move on." Webster also told reporters after the game that he should have pulled up for the three, but was trying to go to the rim, draw the foul and get a three-point play. But definitely acknowledged he should've shot the three. Also added after the game to reporters: "I don't know if it was a mental thing, like a shot (a three) before and didn't knock it down." Ridnour is definitely lucky, though. Because of the play by Webster--no one remembers his blown layup!
For Minnesota, Love had 22pts, 13rebs, 4ast, 2stls, 1blk, shot 7-22 FG, 1-4 3PT, 7-7 FT in 48 min. However when the Wolves needed another one of his clutch performances in the fourth quarter to close out the game he had just 6pts, then in overtime he had another chance to be the hero, but scored just 2pts on free throws. Beasley added 17pts, 7rebs, 1ast on 7-16 FG, 2-3 3PT in 33 minutes off the bench. Rubio had 16pts, 5rebs, 5ast, 3stls, 5-16 FG, 2-4 3PT, 4-4 FT in 40 minutes. Nikola had that great first quarter and had he not gone down in that first quarter he would've had another double-double and would've changed how the game played out in the paint.
For Denver, Al Harrington led the charge. Al had 31pts, 9rebs, 2ast, 1stl, 14-29 FG, 3-9 3PT, in 40 minutes off the bench. Arron Afflalo had 20pts, 5rebs, 3ast, 1blk, 6-18 FG, 8-10 FT in 44 minutes. Kenneth Faried had a great game as well, finishing with 10pts, 14rebs, 2stls, 3blks, 4-4 FG, 2-2 FT in 36 minutes--starting at power forward in place of the injured Nene.
The Timberwolves finished with 15 turnovers leading to 18 Denver points. But the real story was Denver's advantage on the boards and in the paint. The Nuggets out-rebounded Minnesota 57-50 and in the paint with a +16; 52-36.
All in all, the Wolves just got out-muscled & out-hustled in this one. The Nuggets just looked to want it more...that and of course the Wolves' inability to execute their offense in the fourth and in overtime.
That's all for now. The Wolves' next game is Wednesday vs. the Utah Jazz--before they go on All-Star break. Stay tuned for a preview of that one tomorrow. Until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
The Timberwolves are flying high and riding a three-game win streak, with their last win coming yesterday of the Sixers, thanks to a clutch performance from Love.
The Nuggets, on the other hand...they also played yesterday, the result was not as pleasant for Denver. The Nuggets were playing the Thunder, a game that went into overtime, but the Nuggets couldn't pull it out. They allowed Kevin Durant to score a career-high 51pts, Russell Westbrook added 40 & 9ast and Serge Ibaka capped it off with a triple-double: 14pts, 15rebs, 11blks. The Nugggets continued to rally, but the 1-2 punch of Westbrook & KD, proved too much for the Nuggets. A team without a star (Denver) against a team with two (Oklahoma City).
Kevin Love will do his best to be the star power the Wolves need to get a win over a very balanced Denver team.
A win for Minnesota tonight will pull them above .500 once again this season and tie them for fourth in the Northwest division with...Denver! It will be no easy task, however. Denver has won 16 of the last 17 meetings between these two. Though the Wolves may be able to take advantage of a struggling Nuggets squad who've lost 10 of their last 13 games.
For Minnesota the job will get easier if the Nuggets' big man Nene can't play. The Twin Cities Towers (Love & Pekovic) have become a force to be reckoned with. Nene has missed four consecutive games with a calf injury. In his place, Kenneth Faried has started at power forward, while Timofey Mozogov starts at center. The frontcourt advantage Minnesota holds, definitely tips the odds in their favor. As Love is averaging over 25pts & 14rebs a game and in Pekovic's last five games he's averaged 21ppg & 11.6rpg.
The former Timberwolf Corey Brewer has also been in the Nuggets' starting lineup lately. With the injury to Danilo Gallinari, Corey Brewer is Denver's starting small forward.
For Minnesota to win they need to limit points from the Nuggets' backcourt (Ty Lawson & Arron Afflalo) and get their big men (Love & Pek) going early.
The Nuggets' bench was a big part in keeping the Nuggets in that game with OKC. Andre Miller came off the bench and had 21pts & 10ast, Chris Andersen & Al Harrington both added 11pts, Al had 11rebs & Andersen added 6rebs & 3blks. Former TWolf Kosta Koufos added 13pts & 9rebs. The key starters were Afflalo and Lawson. Afflalo had a team-high 27pts, 7rebs, 5ast, 2stls. Ty added 17pts, 4rebs & 7ast.
Minnesota's bench will need to match the intensity of those guys. Reserves J.J., Beasley, D-Will & Webster may not need to score double digits in points, but rather energy on both ends of the floor!
Tipoff is a later 8pmCT, hope you have a splendid President's Day. Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
To say I enjoyed tonight's game--is an understatement. To say I wasn't worried in the final minutes, isn't true. To say the TWolves aren't a playoff contender, is a lie.
Resiliency was key in this one. The Timberwolves never stopped fighting against a Sixers team that's superior, on paper.
Ricky Rubio was 'en fuego' early, Kevin Love was key late and the Wolves overcame THE BEST defensive team in the NBA.
The Sixers came into this one as the #1 defense in the league in points allowed. Allowing opponents just 87.2 a game. The Timberwolves scored just five more points, but watching the Sixers, I no longer have ANY doubt that Philly is one of, if not the best defensive team in the NBA.
Let's recap those final three minutes of this one, with a play-by-play...
2:42 to play, Minnesota leading 88-87.
A driving Holiday banks in a bunny, makes it 88-89 PHI, 2 minutes to play.
A 20ft. jumper from Love, made it 90-89 MIN, just 50 seconds to play.
A 17ft. jumper from Thad Young, made it 90-91 PHI, now just 40 seconds to go.
An empty possession for Minnesota, gave Philly a chance to seal it. With just a few seconds differential on the shot clock, Lou Williams threw up an 18ft. jumper at the top of the key. Love secured the rebound and Minnesota instantly called a timeout, down one, 3.6 seconds to play. The Wolves inbounded to Love you faked, drove the lane and was hammered by Elton Brand. With just 0.1 seconds remaining, Love has the chance to win the game. He makes both free throws, putting Minnesota up 92-91. With just 0.1 seconds to play. The Sixers can only go for the lob. Darko subs in and coming out of the timeout knocks away the lob to seal the win (that one-tenth of a second is the only time Darko played all night). Minnesota wins, everyone goes home happy!
Rubio got things going early though. He scored 14 of his career-high 22 points in the first quarter. Rubio didn't have any assists in the first half, but he had 18pts (old career-high). In the first four minutes of the third quarter he tallied four quick assists (finished with just 5 on the night).
The second quarter was J.J.'s. Barea tallied 8 of his 14 points in the second quarter and helped keep the Sixers' lead to just 5 points at the half.
The third quarter was Pekovic & Ridnour. Pek had 11 of his 17 points in that third quarter and destroyed whatever the Sixers threw at him (6-9, 225lb. Lavoy Allen & 7-0, 240lb. Nikola Vucevic). Thanks to some nice passes from Rubio, Ridnour finished with 8 of his 10 points in that third quarter.
Then, of course, the final quarter. Love's fourth quarter vs. Houston was a 14-point explosion that sealed the W. Tonight, Love had 12 of his 20 points in the final quarter, hit a lot of late clutch shots that kept Minnesota in it and of course nailed the free throws that sealed the win. I know it's already been answered, but for those who continue to doubt Love's worthiness of a max deal and him being a closer, let me ask you this: WHY?!
Another impressive comeback for the Wolves, who've cemented a reputation as a second-half squad. Tonight's victory is the Wolves' 10th win of the season, when they're trailing at the half.
For Minnesota, they finished with just 10 team turnovers, however, those led to 17 points off turnovers for Philly. The 76ers are one of the best teams at scoring in transition. The Wolves forced the Sixers into 8 turnovers and scored 11 points off those. The Sixers had just one turnover through the first half. But Minnesota forced 4 in the third & 3 in the fourth--definitely a big key in the win. Another key? Minnesota had just one turnover in the final quarter! The result a nice win over one of the better teams in the NBA!
For the Wolves, Rubio finished with 22pts, 6rebs, 5ast, 1stl, 1to, 7-17 FG, 2-4 3PT, 6-6 FT, in 37 minutes. Love added 20pts, 15rebs, 2ast, 1to, 7-23 FG, 6-8 FT in 41 minutes. His new pal in the frontcourt: Nikola Pekovic had another impressive game. He finished with 17pts, 9rebs, 1ast, 2blks, 4-7 FG, 9-10 FT in 37 minutes. Barea added 14pts on 6-12 FG as well as 2ast in 21 minutes off the bench.
For the Sixers, Holiday led the charge with 20pts, 5rebs, 2ast, 3stls, 10-20 FG, in 40 minutes. Lou Williams & Iguodala both added 13pts. Iggy also had 7rebs, 3ast, 2stls and Lou added 3rebs, 2ast, 1stl & 1blk.
That's all for now. Stay tuned for some pictures and videos of this one. We'll also have a Denver Nuggets preview up, either late tonight or tomorrow afternoon. Until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
The Timberwolves ended their four-game losing streak on Wednesday vs. Charlotte with a win. Then, they traveled to Houston to take on the Rockets and on the backs of their ferocious frontcourt, Love & Pek, they won that season series (3-1).
Now, they're back at the Target Center vs. the Philadelphia 76ers. It'll be a chance to move to .500 once again, this season. The Wolves currently sit at 15-16 and 8-10 at home. However, they'll be facing one of the better teams in the NBA. The Sixers have tallied 20 wins this season and just 11 losses and are 7-5 on the road.
It's become evident these past few games that the one of the Timberwolves' strengths has become that frontcourt combination of Love & Pekovic. I would honestly say that Pekovic should be a strong candidate for Most Improved Player of the Year. With Pekovic's emergence it's taking a lot of strain off of Kevin Love as Pekovic is beginning to draw more attention especially when he plants himself down low. We'll have a full-story on the emergence of Nikola Pekovic, either later tonight or tomorrow afternoon, sometime.
The Timberwolves should have J.J. Barea back, which is a nice boost to their reserve backcourt. He missed Friday's game vs. the Rockets, as his girlfriend was giving birth to their son; Sebastian.
Rick Adelman tightened up his rotations on Friday. Only eight players played vs. the Rockets; the starters: Rubio, Ridnour, Johnson, Love, Pekovic & reserves: Beasley, Webster, Williams. It's become clear that Adelman has and will continue to shorten up his rotations, even if that means his main guys will get tired--so long as they get the win, compressed schedule or not! For instance, in the past ten games, Anthony Randolph has played in just one, he's also been inactive for three of those. In the past 13 games, Tolliver has played sparingly in just 6. Those two guys have been the most effected.
Going forward, I'd expect those five previous starters listed as well as the three reserves--and J.J. to receive the majority (or all) of the minutes.
Now, let's talk Sixers! Philadelphia will look to get back on track after losing their past two games. Those losses came this past week against the Magic (103-87) on Wednesday and the Mavericks (82-75) on Friday. The Sixers are an averaging scoring team, currently 14th in the NBA at 94.9ppg. However, they're most effective on defense. The Sixers currently rank #1 in the NBA in points allowed: 87.2. We'll have to see how Minnesota does against the NBA's best defense.
Currently, the Sixers are without starting center, Spencer Hawes. Hawes is out with an Achilles injury and is expected to be out until after the All-Star break. In Hawes' absence Elton Brand has moved over to play center and rookie Lavoy Allen has been inserted into the starting lineup.
I was looking up statistics for Philly's leaders. Lou Williams is currently leading Philadelphia in scoring with 16.0ppg! Needless to say, I was surprised, I figured Iguodala (12..4) or Holiday (13.4). I'd keep an eye on rebouding in this one though. The Timberwolves, are obviously one of the best rebounding teams in the League (obviously, thanks in large part to Kevin Love), they're currently ranked 3rd in the NBA. The Sixers are without Hawes, their leading rebounder, so they rely heavily on guys like Brand, Allen, Iguodala & Thaddeus Young to secure boards. I've got a feeling that'll be one of the biggest advantages for Minnesota coming into this one.
This will come down to the Wolves getting stops and being able to score the ball. Ultimately that's the objective in any game, BUT they need that defense leading to offense and they need to shoot efficiently against the Sixers. If the Wolves come out and start the game shooting 30-40% from the field, they're not going to have success against Philly.
Another one of the Sixers' strengths lies in the depth. They have a nice little set of guys coming off the bench that give them a BIG boost: Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young & Evan Turner. Sometimes even rookie Nikola Vucevic gives them good production. For instance, he led the Sixers with 16pts vs. the Mavericks in their last game, also adding 7rebs, 1stl, 1blk, shot 7-of-8 from the field & played just 19 minutes! The Wolves' bench will have to match the production that the Sixers have coming off the pine. That means guys like J.J., Beasley, Webster & Williams all need to produce.
This is the only meeting of these two teams this season and I've got to admit I'm excited to see the Sixers in action. It'll be the first 76ers game I watch this season (and probably the only one).
That's all I've got for now. Thanks for reading HOWL, enjoy the game & GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!