In the face of adversity and a big run by the Clippers, it was Minnesota's starters that played terrible basketball. In a season in which the second unit has been the achilles heel, tonight, they were the only guys who played well.
The third quarter killed the Timberwolves as the Clippers built a huge lead on the back of their transition offense and the typical no-defense Timberwolves.
With the Wolves down by 22 after three quarters, Adelman turned to a second unit of J.J. Barea, Shabazz Muhammad, Chase Budinger, Robbie Hummel & Dante Cunningham. This was the unit that put them back into the game and a big part of that was the offense of Muhammad who scored 7-straight points for the Wolves while they rattled off a big run to cut the lead to 12. Shortly thereafter, Rivers put his starters back in. They calmed the storm a bit, but the second unit came storming back to cut the lead to 8. Not a single Wolves starter played in the fourth quarter. The way the performed in the third quarter and they certainly didn't deserve to.
The story of the game was that the starters dug too big a hole for the second unit to pull out of in the final quarter. That is something we haven't said all season...usually it's the other way around; with the second unit blowing leads or getting outplayed and falling into a big deficit the starters can't recover from.
Watching Muhammad, Budinger & Hummel play together was the only enjoyable aspect about tonight's game. They put together excellent fourth quarters and made the final twelve minutes a little more enjoyable after one of the worst outings from the starting unit we've seen this season.
Muhammad finished with 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting along with 3 rebounds & 1 assist in 12 minutes (all in the fourth quarter). Budinger finished with 12 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals & 1 block. Robbie Hummel had his best offensive game of his NBA career. He finished with season-highs in points (11) and three-pointers made (3), also adding 2 rebounds, 3 assists & 1 steal.
Kevin Love led the team with 20 points & 13 rebounds along with 4 assists & 1 steal. However, in a game in which Blake Griffin (back) was out and Jared Dudley started at power forward, Love should've had a huge game. Instead, he finished with 20 points on 21 shots in 29 minutes and a -30 in +/-. He's been shouldering the load all year long and if anyone should be excused for an off-night (or couple of nights) it's Kevin Love.
The Clippers also played without Jamal Crawford (calf), J.J. Redick (back) and Danny Granger (hamstring).
The Wolves got within 8 points multiple times late in the fourth quarter, but that is as close as they'd get, the Clippers walked out of the Target Center with a 104-114 win. The Wolves will be back in action Wednesday night vs. the Grizzlies, that one tips at 7pmCST from the Target Center.