The Minnesota Timberwolves came into tonight's game riding a five-game losing streak on the road and a three-game losing streak overall. Tonight both of those came to a halt thanks in large part to an improved defensive effort and Martin's clutch offense in the fourth quarter.
Martin scored 13 of his 27 points in the final period and the Timberwolves were able to hand the Mavericks just their second home loss of the season. Their previous lone loss at American Airlines Center came just five days ago when they fell to the Nuggets, 96-110. The Mavs are now 8-2 at home and the TWolves move to 3-6 on the road.
DeJuan Blair hit a two-point shot with 6:33 to play to make it a 92-90 Minnesota lead. The Wolves proceeded to rattle off an 11-2 run over the following three-plus minutes to make it 103-92 with 3:13 to play. Kevin Martin had 8 of his 13 fourth quarter points within that (just over) three-minute stretch! Kevin Love hit a three-pointer to make it a 10-point game with 1:54 to play and Love & Martin made their free throws after being intentionally fouled over the final minute-and-a-half to secure the six-point win.
Before Martin's fourth quarter outburst, Minnesota's best player was undoubtedly: Nikola Peković. He simply had his way in the paint and finished with one of his most efficient shooting nights of the season. He was matched up against Samuel Dalembert & DeJuan Blair throughout this contest, but neither had an answer for his moves in the post as he seemingly scored at will. After a slow start to the season, Pek has come on strong these past few weeks and given the Timberwolves' offense all the more versatility.
New guy Luc Richard Mbah a Moute made his Timberwolves debut tonight and did so in extended minutes. Despite having still not practiced with the team (he was excused from practice on Friday so he could return to Sacramento to get some things and spend Thanksgiving with his family) Mbah a Moute saw some significant and meaningful minutes in this one. Mbah a Moute also seemed to do something that Derrick Williams never could. In just 25 minutes tonight it was clear that Luc had earned Adelman's trust--Williams couldn't accomplish that in over two seasons! The reason he's earned that trust? He gives 100% on the floor, plays within himself and despite his offensive limitations is an extremely valuable asset on the defensive end. There was a point during the game where Adelman went with a lineup of J.J. Barea, Corey Brewer, Mbah a Moute, Dante Cunningham and Gorgui Dieng. Four of those guys are known primarily for their defense and it showed as they were a tough unit to score on. Luc was on the floor midway through the fourth quarter when the game was still "up for grabs". He was defending his former teammate Monta Ellis who had burned the Wolves all night through the first three quarters. Luc didn't shut Ellis down, but he certainly slowed him down. Ellis scored 22 points through three quarters but added just 4 more in the final period to finish with 26 on the night. If you watched tonight's game you know that Luc had a lot to do with that. The fact that those two were teammates in Milwaukee last season probably helped Luc immensely (knowing Ellis' tendencies).
I thought Luc did a very good job tonight and it's clear that he'll have a significant role in the rotation this season--especially when Minnesota faces teams with incredible offensive players that are a bit to big and strong for Brewer (like: Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, etc). The one thing that definitely caught my eye was Mbah a Moute's hands. Luc had a number of passes hit off his hands as well as a number of plays where he drove the lane and was easily stripped (he had the ball stripped at least four times while in the lane tonight). I know he's a player who's limited offensively, but he's got to take care of the basketball! I don't know if he's an above-average ball handler or if he does indeed have terrible hands. For all I know he's simply not used to playing with this group of guys and needs some time to get acclimated and comfortable.
Let's take a look at tonight's box score...
Heading into tonight the Mavericks were 9-0 when Ellis had 5 or more assists in a game compared to 1-7 when he had four or fewer. They're now 9-1 after this 6-assist game from Monta. The Mavericks are also 3-4 now when their big two of Ellis & Dirk score 20 or more points apiece.
The Timberwolves had three twenty-point scorers. This is the third game this season that Love, Martin & Peković have finished with 20 or more points apiece. The Wolves are 2-1 in those games (wins tonight and vs. Boston) with the lone loss coming to the Clippers in that first meeting at STAPLES Center (where the Wolves had three opportunities in the final five seconds to send the game to overtime, but missed them all and lost...ironically enough the three chances were divided amongst Martin, Pek & Love).
In Mbah a Moute's first game as a Wolf he finished with a +10 which was the second-best of the night only behind Kevin Love's +12.
Kevin Martin missed a free throw in the final minute of tonight's game. Prior to that miss he had hit 39-straight free throws. Martin is shooting 93.5% from the line this season with just 7 misses in 107 attempts. He shot three more free throws after that miss and made them all, so a new streak begins, I suppose. Martin also finished with 1 block tonight. That's his first block of the season and thus the first of his Timberwolves career, it came on a Shane Larkin jump shot that Martin swatted from behind.
Minnesota's Big Three led them to this victory, but there were some Mavericks players that played very well in this one. Monta Ellis was a terror on the offensive end. He did a little bit of everything for the Mavericks, but he cooled off considerably in that final quarter. Former Spur DeJuan Blair had a very nice game and that just builds on what has been a very nice season in Dallas. I enjoyed watching him early in his career and I'm very glad that he's been given another chance after being benched the past couple seasons in San Antonio. He's having a revival and proving to be a very integral piece off of that Maverick bench. I'm really stunned that he didn't have more suitors this offseason (I think he was one of the last free agents to sign a contract and he did so for close to the veteran's minimum). Vince Carter also had a nice game off the bench. He's getting up their in years, but like many great players before him he's adjusted his game to remain relevant. He's no longer the athletic freak he once was, but he's still one of the Mavericks' best players thanks to his shooting and aggressive tough play on both ends. Dirk Nowitzki had a good game, but he seemed more interested in complaining about no calls than just putting his head down and working for the win. Kevin Love has been known to do that and I really hate it when players spend time jawing at the ref rather than getting back on defense or playing harder/through it. Dirk was visually frustrated as he left the court tonight and (as I was watching the Mavericks broadcast) he punched a metal wall on his way through the tunnel to the locker rooms. I like this Mavericks team, I think they'll definitely be in the conversation for one of those bottom seeds in the West come April. The Wolves should be as well and this win helps that (the Mavericks now have to win the next two meetings if they want to hold a postseason tiebreaker with Minnesota).
This was the first game in the last four outings that the Timberwolves held an opponent under 50% from both the field and the three-point line. Each of Minnesota's last three opponents had shot 50% or better from both the field and from deep. Isn't surprising that the Wolves were on a three-game losing streak during that span.
Minnesota's focus heading into tonight's game was defense and they accomplished that to an extent, however there's still plenty of room for improvement. With the addition of defensive dynamo Mbah a Moute, there's no reason to think Minnesota's defense can't improve (the return of Turiaf will help as well), though it's on guys like Martin, Love & Peković to continue to work on improving their individual defensive skill sets.
Minnesota's 50.9% shooting is the second-best of the season as is their 42.3% from deep, they also tied a season-best with those 11 made three-pointers. The Wolves were whistled for a season-low 9 fouls, but when they were sent to the line, they made just 70% of their shots (the second-worst mark of the season). The Mavericks' 9 made free throws and 11 attempts are both season-lows for a Wolves opponent as are their 24 defensive rebounds and 11 team turnovers.
Mbah a Moute was very active on the glass and came away with 7 total rebounds (tied a season-high) which included 4 on the offensive end (a new season-high). His 2 blocks also tied a season-high.
The Timberwolves are back in action tomorrow night in Oklahoma City where they'll take on Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. That game is set to tip at 6pmCST. Stay tuned for the preview of that one, until then thanks for reading and GO WOLVES!
The Minnesota Timberwolves have rattled off three VERY disappointing defensive efforts. In the Wolves' last three outings, they've allowed their opponents to shoot 50% or better from both the three-point line and from the field! It's no surprise that Minnesota is on a three-game losing streak, considering how poor their effort has been on defense. There's been little to no resistance as the Wolves are allowing opponents to get any and every look they want.
Minnesota hasn't played since Wednesday when they dropped another one to the Denver Nuggets. Adelman gave his team Thursday off to spend with their families for Thanksgiving before returning to practice on Friday. According to the team's official website, the went through a film session and then worked extensively on their defensive sets.
The Wolves have lost three-straight and five of their last six games overall. During Minnesota's three-game skid they're allowing an average of 109 points per game. Minnesota has also dropped five-straight game on the road. During that road skid they're allowing an average of 108 points per game. The Timberwolves have also dropped 8 of their last 9 games. During that span they've allowed 42 points or more in the paint. Denver had 60 points in the paint on Wednesday night.
The Wolves are meeting a Dallas squad they've already defeated this season. The first meeting came in Minnesota where the Wolves won 116-108 on November 8th. Kevin Love & Kevin Martin scored 32 points apiece and Love added 15 rebounds & 8 assists in the win. The Timberwolves are 4-0 this season when Kevin Martin scores 30 points or more.
The Mavericks have been very good at home this season going 8-1 in Dallas. In those nine games the Mavs are averaging 108.8 points. Despite Dallas' solid play at home this season, they've hit a bit of a rough patch lately. The Mavericks have dropped three of their last four games. In their most recent outing the Mavs had one of their worst offensive nights of the season. Last night in Atlanta the Hawks came back from a 17-point deficit to have Al Horford hit a 20-foot jumper with 4.2 seconds to play for the one-point victory, 88-89. The Hawks came back from that double digit deficit thanks in large part to them holding the Mavericks scoreless over the final 3:26 to play.
The Timberwolves will be without Chase Budinger (knee) and Ronny Turiaf (elbow) in this one. Updates on their returns can be found under the Team Report--Injury Report section. The team remains hopeful that both will be back before Christmas. Newly acquired forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was excused from practice on Friday so that he could return to Sacramento for "personal reasons". This of course means that he still hasn't gone through a practice with the team. He reportedly flew from Sacramento to Dallas and met the team. Adelman said that he will try to go through some sets with him in shootaround on Saturday morning. It sounds that despite having no practice time with the team, he'll likely make his TWolves debut tonight in Dallas.
The Mavericks will be without Devin Harris (toe) he has yet to play this season, but hopes to return before Christmas; Brandan Wright (shoulder) did some 5-on-0 sets a week ago, but he won't return in this one. Monta Ellis is dealing with some ankle & back soreness, but he continues to play through it. Jose Calderon went down with an ankle sprain in the third quarter of yesterday's loss in Atlanta. He didn't return and his condition for tonight's contest is questionable. If he's unable to go one of the rookies (Shane Larkin or Gal Mekel) will likely get the start at point guard.
Let's take a look at tonight's potential starting lineups...
The Wolves are going up against a very good offensive team that averages 104.4 a game. If the Wolves want to have any chance of winning they'll have to slow down Dallas' two twenty-point scorers (Ellis & Nowitzki). Monta & Dirk are a versatile and lethal duo--much like Minnesota's Kevin Martin & Kevin Love.
If Calderon is unable to go, the Mavericks may turn to Monta Ellis to run the point a bit more. That could be good news for Dallas. The Mavs are 9-0 when Ellis dishes at least five assists in a game. Alternatively, they're 1-7 when he finishes with four or fewer assists.
If Minnesota wants to snap this losing skid they have to commit to defense and let their high-octane offense be fueled by their defensive stops. That means 48-full minutes of committed defense!
This one will tip at 7:30pmCST from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, thanks for reading and GO WOLVES!
For the third straight game the Timberwolves have allowed an opponent to shot 50% or better from both the field and behind the three-point line. Not surprisingly, the Timberwolves have gone 0-3 over that time.
The last time these two teams met the Wolves allowed them a lot of easy baskets. Tonight was more the same. If the Wolves want to have any chance of breaking this losing streak, the work has to begin at the defensive end. You have absolutely no chance of winning when you allowed a team to get so many easy looks.
Any time you hear someone talk about the Timberwolves on Twitter or in a comment section the discussion always turns to their poor offensive production from the reserves. While that's true (they had 10 points tonight), the starters are more than capable of carrying the brunt of the load offensively. The biggest concern is this extremely porous defense.
Can new guy Luc Richard Mbah a Moute help in that department? Definitely. Luc passed his physicals this morning and then spent the day around the Target Center getting to know his new coaches, teammates and surroundings. He did suit up tonight, but didn't see any time. Understandable considering he had just a few hours to acquaint himself with the kinds of schemes the Wolves run. He'll spend the next couple days learning the playbook and should make his Timberwolves debut on Saturday in Dallas.
It was the play from Denver's guards that really hurt the Wolves in this one. Ty Lawson, Andre Miller & Nate Robinson took it to the Wolves tonight. They got around Minnesota's perimeter defense with ease on some simple high-screen action and either got to the rim or pulled up for the wide open mid-range jumper.
This is definitely a good Denver squad, but there's no reason they should have beaten us earlier this month or tonight.
These past few games I thought teams were just hitting some difficult shots against the Wolves. However after three-straight games of such high shooting percentages it's clear that it has to be something more. The Wolves need a different defensive gameplan or they need to execute the one they have better! Either way, they need to figure it out quick because the schedule isn't about to do them any favors. Their next four games: Dallas, San Antonio, Oklahoma City & Miami.
The last time these two teams met, the Denver Nuggets set their season-high for points with 117. They tied that mark tonight with another 117-point outing.
Minnesota's 17 turnovers for 25 Denver points and those gaudy shooting percentages are keys to this loss.
Surprisingly the Timberwolves out-rebounded the Nuggets. The Wolves are good rebounding team themselves, but Denver came into this game averaging 46.2 rebounds per game which was good enough for 4th in the NBA (the Wolves: 45.4 for 6th in the NBA). Denver's 36 rebounds is a new season-low for a Timberwolves opponent.
Ricky Rubio set a new season-high with 17 points and 6 made field goals while playing a season-high 42 minutes. Unfortunately he turned the ball over 7 times and was the only starter with a negative +/-
The Wolves bench struggled once again scoring just 10 points while Denver's went off for 46. Chase Budinger can't return soon enough!! According to Flip, both Chase & Ronny Turiaf should return before Christmas.
Tonight was just the second game as a Timberwolf that Kevin Martin didn't make a three-point field goal and the first game in which he didn't make three when he attempted one. Despite that, Martin scored a game-high 29 points (10 of which came in the fourth quarter). He did so by nailing 11-for-11 from the line (season-highs).
The Wolves won't play again until Saturday in Dallas, that should give Mbah a Moute time to assimilate with his new team and time for the Wolves to figure things out defensively.
UPDATE (11/27 @5:40pmCST): New addition Mbah a Moute will be in uniform tonight. It's unlikely that he'll see the court unless it's a blowout or someone like Brewer goes down with an injury. Also, the Wolves will be wearing their new alternate jerseys from Adidas. I've seen some preview of them, they're...interesting. Enjoy the Game!
The Timberwolves had a very strong start to the season, but have sputtered lately. The Nuggets stumbled out of the gate to begin the year, but have come on strong the past couple weeks.
The Wolves began the season 7-4 and over that time they averaged 108.5 points on 44.1% shooting. Since, they've gone 1-4 and averaged 98.8 points on 39% shooting.
The Nuggets began the season 0-3, but have gone 7-3 over their last ten games. During that stretch they're scoring 107.3 points on 46.3% shooting.
These two teams have met once already this season. Here's the RECAP of that one. The TWolves played terribly defensively and allowed the Nuggets to score 61 points in the second half for the narrow victory.
The Wolves are 8-8 on the year, 6-2 at home, 1-1 vs. the Northwest division, 3-5 vs. the Western Conference, losers of two-straight and they're 4-6 in their last ten games. The Nuggets are 7-6 on the season, 2-4 on the road, 2-2 vs. the Northwest division, 5-6 vs. the Western Conference, winners of three-straight and they're 7-3 in their last ten games.
The Wolves will be looking to avoid a fifth loss in their last six games, but if they want that to happen they're going to have to play better defense than they did on Monday vs. the Pacers in Indiana. Indy shot over 50% from both the field and from deep. In the game before that, the Wolves faced the Rockets and also allowed them to shoot over 50% from both the field and from deep!
The Nuggets enter tonight seeking a twenty-third victory in the last twenty-seven meetings with their division rival Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Timberwolves made headlines these past two days with the acquisition of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. It was a trade that sent Derrick Williams to Sacramento, too. Mbah a Moute will take his physical on Wednesday morning and then will attend the morning shootaround. It's unknown at this time whether or not he'll be in uniform for tonight's game.
Minnesota will be without Chase Budinger (knee) and Ronny Turiaf (elbow) are both out for tonight's game. Updates on the both of them can be found in our Injury Report under the Team Section.
The Nuggets are without JaVale McGee (leg) and Danilo Gallinari (knee). It sounds as though both are still a ways from returning to the court.
Let's take a look at tonight's starting lineups...
The Minnesota Timberwolves need to make sure the box out Denver's big men. This is a very good rebounding squad. The Wolves also need to play better defense. The last time these two teams met, there were numerous possessions in the second half where Nugget players just waltzed down the lane for easy buckets.
Ty Lawson is averaging a career-high in points and he's the unquestioned leader of these surging Nuggets. Ricky Rubio needs to have an answer for him on defense early and often in this one.
The Nuggets also have a lot of guys who played with tremendous energy--none more so than Kenneth Faried. The Wolves have Corey Brewer as their sparkplug, but when you face such a young and athletic squad you need to try and match.
Kevin Martin & Kevin Love were scorching hot to start the season, but have cooled off a bit lately and have had some inconsistent performances. Nikola Peković had a rough start to the year, but has come on very strong lately. If the Wolves can get all three of them on the same page and offensively efficient.
Tipoff is set for 7pmCST from the Target Center, enjoy the game and GO WOLVES!
The Indiana Pacers are the NBA's best defense for a reason and Minnesota saw that first-hand tonight at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
For the second game in a row the Timberwolves allowed an opponent to shoot 50% or greater from both the field and the three-point line! So, you add Indiana's hot shooting night with their lockdown defense and you've got a 14-point Timberwolves loss.
The Pacers improved to 8-0 at home which is the best home start in franchise history. The Pacers are also now 13-1 on the year. The Wolves dropped to 8-8 on the season and have now lost five-straight games on the road. An interesting sidenote: the starting lineup of Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love & Peković is actually below .500 on the season at 7-8 (with that other win coming with Robbie Hummel starting at small forward).
The Timberwolves kept things close through three quarters, but the Pacers amped things up in the final period to easily walk away with their NBA-best 13th-win of the season.
After three quarters the Timberwolves were down 5 points. The Wolves entered this game 0-6 in games in which they trailed after three quarters. The Pacers came into this contest 10-0 in games that they led after three quarters. That held true tonight as the Timberwolves were held to just 16 fourth quarter points.
A big key to Minnesota success throughout this one was their ability to get to the free-throw line. In a game that the Wolves shot under 35% from the field for the majority of the contest, getting freebies at the line was instrumental in sticking with this Pacer squad. The Wolves shot went 22-26 from the line through three quarters, but attempted just two in the final quarter. In fact, the Timberwolves were held to just those two free throw attempts (from Pek) in the final 15:09! Indiana's ability to defend without fouling in that final period proved to be one of the deciding factors in this one.
The biggest news of the night wasn't what happened on the floor, however. Since late afternoon there were rumors circulating on Twitter that the Derrick Williams was 99.9% gone from Minnesota. By the end of the first quarter tonight that came to fruition--the Timberwolves agreed in principle to a deal that would send Williams to Sacramento and bring Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to Minnesota. The deal is not official yet as the Timberwolves have to clear Mbah a Moute with a physical, but (according to multiple reports) it would take something major for the Timberwolves to decline this trade.
You can read more about the trade in this write-up I posted during halftime of tonight's game: Caged Lion Released to Roam in Sacramento. Once (or if) the deal becomes official I'll have a write-up posted in the News section tomorrow. The physical should take place tomorrow morning and we'll most certainly know by Tuesday afternoon. If the deal does go through, you can expect Mbah a Moute to be added to all our various pages by tomorrow evening.
Back to tonight's contest, let's take a look at tonight's box score...
The Timberwolves set new season-lows tonight in field goals made (29), field-goal percentage (32.6%), three-pointers made (3), three-point percentage (15.8%), assists (15), fast break points (6), points in the paint (36) and points (84). Minnesota's 1 block also ties a season-low and their 19 three-point attempts is the second-least attempted this season.
The Pacers' 53.3% three-point shooting is the second-best by a Wolves opponent this season and their 13 steals are a season-high for a Wolves opponent.
The Timberwolves fell apart in the final quarter and their cold shooting throughout the night doomed them in that final period when they stopped hearing the whistle blow and ceased to get to the line.
Paul George & George Hill combined for 52 points including 7-for-8 from deep and 9 steals. I'm a big fan of Paul George's game and yet I weep a bit on the inside everytime I watch him play, because of two simple names: David Kahn & Wesley Johnson.
Is it just me or does Nikola Peković seem to elevate his game when he's matched up against some of the NBA's premier interior defenders? Tonight he battled Roy Hibbert and make no mistake about it, it was a battle. Pek definitely got the best of him. Hibbert was in foul trouble throughout and just couldn't handle Pek in the paint. Roy Hibbert came into the game as the NBA's leading shot-blocker, averaging 4.3 a contest as well as an average of 5.0 in home games. He finished with just one block tonight as Pek had his way against him and later backup big Ian Mahinmi. Despite the loss, this was a bright spot for me and I really enjoyed watching these two go at it.
Tonight's game began a lengthy stretch of tough contests. The Wolves will have a chance to bounce back on Wednesday night at the Target Center vs. the Nuggets...however that may be their easiest opponent until they face the Pistons on Dec. 10th (there are four contests sandwiched in between these two games and those opponents include: the Mavericks, Thunder, Spurs & Heat.
MISC. NOTES: Robbie Hummel's homestate is Indiana, he's from Valparaiso, Indiana (a city where I actually have quite a bit of family) and he played his collegiate basketball at Purdue for the Boilermakers. Hummel didn't score in his return to his homestate, but he did tie a season-high with 2 offensive rebounds and set a new season-high with 2 steals. Hummel also had the only positive +/- for the Timberwolves tonight with a +4........According to reports on Twitter, there was a fan heckling Williams as he sat on the bench during the second half, laughing at him and telling him that he'd been traded to Sacramento (he already knew, however); Williams didn't respond........
The Timberwolves are beginning a very difficult stretch in the schedule on Monday night in Indianapolis. Monday's game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse is the first in a stretch of 10 road contests in the next 16 games.
The longest road trip will be a three-game set in mid-December. However, the focus has to be on tonight in Indiana against one of the NBA's best teams.
The Indiana Pacers have lost just one game this season and are currently tied with the San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the League.
Indiana is 12-1 on the year and a perfect 7-0 at home as well as 2-0 vs. Western Conference foes. Minnesota is 8-7 on the season, 2-5 on the road and 5-2 vs. the Eastern Conference.
The Pacers will be looking to send the Wolves to a fifth-straight road loss while improving to 8-0 on their homecourt--which would be their best start at home in franchise history.
During Minnesota's four-game road losing streak they're allowing their opponents to score an average of 110.5 points while shooting 50.7% from the field and 42.7% from deep. The Pacers are allowing just 82.7 points per game on 36.8% shooting on their homecourt this season.
The Pacers are also allowing an average of just 87.6 points per game this season, which gives them the NBA's best defense! They'll certainly put their defense to the test tonight with the Wolves who have the third-best offense in the NBA averaging 106.9 points per game. The Wolves' lowest scoring output this season was 92 points vs. the Cavaliers in Cleveland (where they lost by one point). The Pacers have not allowed an opponent to hit the century mark in Indiana this season. In their lone defeat, the Pacers did allow the Bulls to score 110 points in a game in Chicago. Their highest-scoring opponent at home came this past Saturday when they hosted the Philadelphia 76ers and allowed them to score 98, but still defeated them by eight points and held them to 34.3% shooting from the field.
This is the first of two meetings this season--the second one coming in mid-February in Minnesota. In the most recent meeting between these two teams, the Pacers handed the Wolves a 107-91 loss on March 13, 2013. The Pacers went to their big men (David West & Roy Hibbert) down low and it was VERY successful; the Pacers outscored the Wolves 52-24 in the paint.
The Pacers will be without Danny Granger (calf). Granger has not played in the regular season and was initially targeting a mid-November return. Obviously as we're just a handful of days away from December...that plan is out the window. It's not really known when he'll return, however he was putting up some shots prior to their game vs. the Celtics last week. He returned to practice after a three week absence about a two weeks ago. Roughly ten days ago he was held out of practice with an upper respiratory infection. He also still has pain in his calf and reportedly hasn't returned (and won't return until the pain ceases) to practice.
The Wolves play on without Chase Budinger (knee) and Ronny Turiaf (elbow). Updates on the two of them can be found in the Injury Report.
Let's take a look at tonight's starting lineups...
The Timberwolves will have their hands full with this Indiana Pacers starting lineup! Roy Hibbert is one of the NBA's best interior defenders and at 4.3 blocks a contest, he leads the NBA. He's also averaging 5 blocks per game in home contests!
Paul George continues to round out his overall game and has quickly become a Top-10 (maybe even Top-5) player in this League! As a friendly reminder, the Wolves selected Wesley Johnson over George who went six picks later to Indiana. George is a max contract player after four seasons while Johnson is currently working for the veteran's minimum in L.A. George's 24.2 points per game is tied for 5th in the NBA. However, in just three career meetings in Indiana vs. the Wolves, he's averaging 15.3 a game...I don't know that they'll be able to hold him to under that tonight...
Kevin Love has missed the Timberwolves' last three meetings with Indiana due to injuries, but in his three career games in Indiana, Love is averaging 17.7 points & 11.3 rebounds. Love's 24.9 points per game this season is 4th in the NBA, his 13.6 rebounds is tied for first and his 4.5 assists is tied for first among all power forwards and centers (Charlotte's Josh McRoberts is also averaging 4.5 a game).
The Wolves also have Kevin Martin averaging 22.8 points a game. That's good enough for 8th in the NBA and the Wolves have the only duo in the Top-16 of scoring! The next best is Dallas' 7th Monta Ellis (23.6) and 17th Dirk Nowitzki (20.9).
The Timberwolves are going to need their best offensive output of the season in Indiana tonight, Minnesota can't afford for one of their stars to have an off game. If either of the "Kevins" struggle, the Wolves have no chance in this one.
I'll be very interested to see how Peković does in this one. He's had two of his best games against a great shot-blocker (DeAndre Jordan) this season. Roy Hibbert is even better defensively and also more physical. It should be one heck of a battle in the post.
This one is an early 6pmCT tip from Indiana, enjoy the game and GO WOLVES!
The Houston Rockets came into the game as the NBA's best offensive team averaging 109.7 points per game. Tonight, despite being without their best player, they put on one of the best offensive displays I've ever seen!
The Wolves didn't quit--a trait that's great to see considering some of the team's this franchise has had in year's past--that when an opponent gets up by double digits, they roll over and die.
However, when you face a team that shoots over 50% from both the field AND from behind the three-point line--it's difficult to stay with such a high-octane offensive juggernaut. There were numerous possessions where one of the guards: Aaron Brooks, Patrick Beverley or Jeremy Lin would pull up with defenders around them and easily knock down the three-point bomb.
Rick tried to counter with different looks on defense, but nothing the Wolves could do, slowed them down. When the Rockets executed their offense, the ball movement was also very solid, they routinely found open looks.
The Wolves were able to stay in this one because of the turnovers they forced. Minnesota forced the Rockets into 24 turnovers and scored 37 points off of them! Corey Brewer & Ricky Rubio were the cause of a lot of those turnovers and Brewer had A LOT of fast break opportunities in this one. Brewer finished with 5 steals and Rubio added another 4 (all 4 of Rubio's came in the first half).
At halftime the Wolves were down 42-55 at halftime. The Rockets hit 9 of their 17 threes in the first half and were out-rebounding the Wolves 35-19. The Rockets however had 14 first half turnovers that led to 21 Wolves points, while only forcing Minnesota to turn the ball over three times for four points.
You could argue that the Wolves could've played better perimeter defense. You could say that Adelman going to a 2-3 zone in the second quarter was what sparked Aaron Brooks to begin knocking down all those three-pointers. However, Minnesota's defense was actually pretty good in this one--they forced a lot of miscues from their opponents. I really don't know that they could've done a lot differently. The Rockets were just insanely 'hot' in this one and they just didn't miss.
The Wolves move to 8-7 on the year, 2-5 on the road and are now losers of four-straight games away from Target Center. It's not going to get any easier either--the Wolves' next contest is Monday night in Indiana vs. the Pacers!
Let's take a look at tonight's box score...
Minnesota's 100 field goal attempts ties a season-high (with 10/30 vs. Orlando--that overtime win on opening night). The Wolves also set a new season-high with 18 offensive rebounds.
Minnesota also set new season-lows in free throws made (13), free throws attempted (17), defensive rebounds (26), assists (17) and fouls (13).
Obviously, Houston's 17 made threes is a season-high for a Wolves opponent as is their 54.8% shooting from deep and the 43 defensive rebounds.
Gorgui Dieng tied a season-high with 3 blocks and he did so in only 3 minutes. Gorgui definitely has a future in this League and I'm really excited about his development these next couple years!
Kevin Love had a great night scoring 27 points on 50% shooting along with those 15 rebounds. He's definitely got back on track these past two games after that awful outing vs. the Clippers earlier this week.
Aaron Brooks was without a doubt the player of the game tonight. The Rockets were without Harden and they needed someone else to step up in his stead--that's exactly what Houston's third-string point guard did with his season-high 26 points and 6 three-pointers.
Hopefully the Wolves can regroup and get prepared to face one of the NBA's best teams on Monday night when they travel to the Bankers Life Fieldhouse to battle the Pacers in Indiana. Stay tuned for a preview tomorrow evening, until then thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
The Timberwolves started the season 5-2, but have lost four of the last seven games. They cruised to an easy win over the Brooklyn Nets last night, but Minnesota's biggest struggles this season have come on the road. Minnesota is 2-4 on the road and are looking to avoid a fourth-straight road loss.
The Rockets have had an up-and-down season early, themselves. Houston is coming off a 120-123 loss to the Mavericks in Dallas. Houston led by 18 points in the third quarter, but Dallas stormed back for a three-point victory. The Rockets are 5-2 at home this season and are seeking a fourth-straight home win.
This matchup will feature two of the NBA's premier offensive squads. The Wolves are the third-best offensive team averaging 107.3 points per game. The Rockets are the best offensive team in the NBA averaging 109.7 points per game. It should be a high-scoring affair in Houston tonight. The Wolves are also the only team in the NBA with two Top-10 scorers (Love & Martin)! The Rockets are averaging 113.7 points per game during their three-game winning streak at home, but the Wolves have allowed 110 points per game during their three-game losing streak on the road.
The Rockets made headlines this offseason with their acquisition of Dwight Howard. He certainly gives this team another dimension and much more dangerous. GM Daryl Morey has made some GREAT moves these past two summers--acquiring two of the NBA's Top-10 players. Morey has also done a decent job of adding a mixture of young and veteran talent.
The biggest headline involving Houston right now is Omer Asik's trade requests. After a number of years playing behind Joakim Noah in Chicago, Asik signed a big contract with the Houston Rockets last summer. He had the best year of his career as the team's starting center. Then, the Rockets went out and found a replacement and once again Asik found himself playing backup to an All-Star center. Head Coach McHale tried to play to two big men together--starting them both in the frontcourt together for a number of games to start the season. That experiment didn't work out to well and when Asik was moved to the bench, rumors of him demanding a trade surfaced once again (they had before just after Houston signed Howard). Now, the Rockets are starting Terrence Jones next to Howard in the post. Jones helps space the floor a bit more because he can knock down that mid-range jumper. It sounds as though Omer Asik won't be a Houston Rocket by the February Trade Deadline.
Luckily the Wolves are coming off a that easy win over the Nets. No Wolves starter played more than 28 minutes, besides Martin who played 31. That's good news in the second night of a back-to-back.
The Wolves will be without Chase Budinger (knee), Ronny Turiaf (elbow) and likely Shabazz Muhammad (ankle). Updates about them can be found in our Injury Report. The Rockets will be without big man Greg Smith (knee). Smith had an MRI a week ago that came back negative, but he is still out a few days. Ronnie Brewer has missed two-consecutive games with a calf injury and is questionable for this one.
Let's take a look at tonight's starting lineup...
The Wolves will have their hands full in these matchups tonight. I expect Corey Brewer to match up with Houston's leading scorer in this one (Harden), which would leave Martin to guard Houston's third-leading scorer Chandler Parsons who still averages almost 17 points per game. Kevin Love & Ricky Rubio have it a little easier tonight, though Rubio will be tasked with guarding Jeremy Lin when he comes into the game. Lin has been thriving in a sixth man role for Houston this season and is averaging 16.3 points per game in 31.7 minutes per game.
However, the matchup I'm most looking forward to is the battle in the paint: Nikola Peković vs. Dwight Howard. Two of the NBA's strongest big men going head-to-head. Nikola Peković had two of his best games this season against one of the NBA's premier shot-blockers (the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan). Going into those games vs. the Clippers, I assumed Pek would get blocked a number of times and struggle, but it was the complete opposite and he just dominated inside. I'm really hoping for a big game from PEK!
Tipoff is set for 7pmCT from the Toyota Center in Houston, enjoy the game and GO WOLVES!
For the first time ever, the Minnesota Timberwolves have defeated Kevin Garnett. The Wolves were unable to do so during his Boston years (the Wolves did beat Boston towards the end of last season, but Garnett was out with an injury).
It wasn't just a win tonight for the Wolves, it was a blowout win and another embarrassing loss for a floundering Brooklyn Net squad. The Nets were extremely shorthanded in this one, but there's no reason that a team that still has Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce & Kevin Garnett available--should be this bad.
The Nets were without Deron Williams (ankle), Brook Lopez (ankle), Andrei Kirilenko (back) and Jason Terry (knee) for this one. In Williams' place, Shaun Livingston got the start. Unfortunately without Deron, that leaves the Nets without a viable playmaker. The Nets finished with just 7 assists as a team--4 came from Joe Johnson, 2 for Garnett and 1 for Pierce. That means there wasn't a single reserve who registered an assist in this one.
It definitely looked like a team of players that were simply taking turns shooting the basketball. There didn't seem to be a lot of great play calls and they reverted a number of times to the "Iso-Joe" gameplan. It was just disjointed basketball on both ends for this squad.
The Wolves led by 16 points after the first quarter, 30-14. That was Minnesota's eighth 30+ point first quarter of the season. Kevin Love finished the first quarter with 9pts, 11reb, 2ast & 1stl. The Wolves also had 15 second chance points in that first quarter! 5 of Love's 11 rebounds were offensive, Peković had 4 rebounds in the first quarter, 3 of which came on the offensive end.
By halftime the Wolves hadn't let up and led 57-37. To begin the third quarter, the Nets came out and played some better basketball. They went on a short run that seemed to spark the whole team to play a little better, then Kevin Garnett was called for a technical and a flagrant foul.
The call came underneath the basket with the Nets on defense, Garnett was guarding Love in the post, Love slapped away Garnett's hand and KG responded with a forearm to Love's chest. The refs quickly whistled it up and separated the players--though KG seemed to be the only player looking for trouble. The refs reviewed the play and ended up assessing him with a technical and a flagrant foul.
Following that play, the Wolves went on a 19-2 run that put this game away for good. KG's antics sparked the wrong team and following the end of that run, Coach Kidd pulled his stars and put in his deep reserves. That was with a 5-6 minutes to go in the third quarter and by the end of the quarter, Adelman had also sat down his starters and for the remainder of this one--we got to see extended stretches from Robbie Hummel, Derrick Williams, A.J. Price & Gorgui Dieng.
The Wolves led by as many as 37-points in this one and it ended up being a 30-point victory--the largest of the season for Minnesota.
Let's take a look at tonight's box score...
The Wolves finished tonight with just 8 turnovers for 5 Net points. The Wolves had 6 turnovers for 3 Net points after three quarters. I was definitely expecting more than just 2 turnovers from the reserves, but they did an excellent job taking care of the ball. Minnesota's 8 turnovers is a new season-low.
The Wolves also tied a season-high with 11 three-pointers made and set new season-highs in three-pointers attempted (36) and offensive rebounds (17).
The Wolves also held the Nets to 7 assists which is a season-low for a Wolves opponent and the 81 points they scored ties a season-low (with Oklahoma City on 11/1).
Kevin Love played just 28 minutes, but it was definitely a bounce back game for him following that dismal 2-for-14 shooting night on Wednesday vs. the Clippers. The best part about tonight's win is that no Wolves starter played more than 31 minutes. That's great considering the Wolves will be hopping on a plane this evening to travel to Houston to take on James Harden, Dwight Howard and the Rockets tomorrow night!
That game is set to tip at 7pmCT from the Toyota Center in Houston. Stay tuned for the gameday preview, until then, thanks for reading and GO WOLVES!
The Minnesota Timberwolves continue their stretch of five games in seven days tonight vs. Kevin Garnett and the Brooklyn Nets.
The Nets made some major moves this offseason highlighted by the trade that sent Paul Pierce, Jason Terry & Kevin Garnett to town. The Nets also signed versatile swingman Andrei Kirilenko as well as fellow free agents Shaun Livingston & Alan Anderson. Brooklyn also selected big man Mason Plumlee in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft. The biggest move of the offseason may have been their selection of a new head coach. The Nets selected Jason Kidd as their new head coach. That came less than two weeks after Kidd announced his retirement from the NBA.
Kidd & these Nets haven't lived up to expectations, but they haven't hit the panic button, quite yet. The Brooklyn front office says that Kidd isn't in danger of being fired--they've invested in him and this team and they aren't going to make any rash decisions.
A big part of Brooklyn's struggles this season have been injuries. Minnesota won't be sympathetic in the least after a disastrous and injury-plagued 2012-13 campaign.
The Nets will be without Deron Williams. He re-injured his left ankle in the second quarter of Brooklyn's 95-91 loss in Charlotte on Wednesday. The injury had forced him to miss the previous two games with this injury, as well. Brook Lopez is dealing with a sore ankle and will miss his fourth-straight game, Lopez is his leading scorer at 20.5 points per game and Brooklyn's interior presence on both ends of the floor has suffered as a result of his absence. Jason Terry is dealing with a bruised left knee and will be held out of this game as a precaution. Former Wolf Andrei Kirilenko has missed more games than he's played this season as he deals with the back spasms that kept him out for long stretches last season with Minnesota. Kirilenko has been out for the last seven games now.
The Wolves will continue to be without Chase Budinger (knee) and Ronny Turiaf (elbow). It sounds as though Turiaf may return in early December and Chase's return date sounds like early-2014. Shabazz Muhammad hasn't suited up the past four games due to an ankle injury, but even if he does...he won't play anyway.
Andrei Kirilenko left the Wolves this summer after one season and he also left over $10million on the table. Rumors were that after he opted out of that $10million player option, that Flip Saunders made him an offer that would have paid him roughly $7million annually over three years. AK reportedly turned that down to sign a two-year deal with the Nets worth roughly $3million annually (the second year being a player option). Kirilenko said after he signed the deal in Brooklyn, it was for a chance to play for a winning team--as it was a tough season in Minnesota, not winning and playing for no reason. I was a BIG fan of Kirilenko during his season here, I REALLY enjoyed watching him play and it really was too bad that the Wolves didn't have a healthy team to put on the floor with him Rubio & Pek, because I think they could have been quite good. However I definitely lost some respect for AK after reading that and I can't help to think that with Brooklyn as one of the East's worst teams and Minnesota having their best season in a long while...perhaps that's karma for ya! In reality, I do wish him the best and I hope this Brooklyn squad can turn things around...just not tonight!
The Wolves are 7-6 this season, 5-2 at home, 4-2 vs. the Eastern Conference and losers of their two outings. The Nets are 3-8 vs. the Nets, 1-6 on the road, 2-3 vs. the Western Conference, losers of their last three outings and six of their last seven!
The Wolves are coming off another disappointing loss to the Clippers on Wednesday night. Kevin Love finished with just 10 points on 2-of-14 shooting along with 12 rebounds and 8 assists. It was undoubtedly Love's worst offensive outing of the season and he definitely looked frustrated. Kevin Martin was coming off his worst game of the year the night before, but put up 28 points vs. the Clippers in addition to a season-high 10 rebounds for his first double-double since 2009 (and the 9th of his NBA career). Martin is averaging just over 23 points per game this season, but in his last three meetings vs. the Nets he's scored a TOTAL of 23 points.
For the only time this season Kevin Garnett will take the floor at his old stomping grounds--the Target Center in Minneapolis--the place he still refers to as his second home. He had nothing but praise for this Wolves team before tonight's game. I'm definitely looking forward to the Timberwolves' greatest player taking the court against his former squad.
Let's take a look at tonight's probable starting lineup...
Without two of their starters, the Nets will be relying heavily on Johnson, Pierce & Garnett. Andray Blatche has been good starting alongside Garnett in the post, but he'll most certainly have his hands full tonight with Pek.
The Wolves need to look to take advantage of their advantage down low. The Nets have been porous in the paint on defense without Brook Lopez and with Nikola Peković coming off a GREAT outing vs. the Clippers, I don't doubt we'll see more of that tonight vs. the Brooklyn bigs.
The key will be containing Brooklyn's two 6'7" swingmen: Pierce & Johnson. It will be interesting to see who Adelman has Brewer match up against to start the game, because both of these guys are the same size and versatile scorers, I also wonder if Rick will decide to start Rubio on the other and have Martin guard Livingston. It's a possibility, though Livingston is enjoying his career revival in Brooklyn and playing some pretty good basketball filling in for Deron Williams. Livingston himself is also 6'7", which means the Brooklyn starters are 6-7, 6-7, 6-7, 6-11, 6-11 (though we all know Garnett is over 7-feet tall).
Tipoff is set for 7pmCT from the Target Center, enjoy the game and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!