The first came on Friday night at the Target Center vs. the defending champions: the San Antonio Spurs. The Wolves were led by 20 points off the bench from Anthony Bennett--which undoubtedly is his best game yet, as a Wolf.
The Wolves had just three total players score in double figures in this one. Mo Williams added 15 and rookie Andrew Wiggins chipped in 14.
The Spurs, conversely, had six total players score in double figures. They were led by Tony Parker who scored a game-high 28 points. Danny Green (18), Kawhi Leonard (14), Boris Diaw (13), Austin Daye (13) and Aron Baynes (12).
Ultimately, the Spurs are just too good and too deep for these young, shorthanded Timberwolves. The Wolves played this one without Ricky Rubio (ankle), Kevin Martin (wrist), Thaddeus Young (personal), Nikola Pekovic (wrist) and Ronny Turiaf (knee).
The Spurs, had the luxury of playing just one of their starters more than 26 minutes (Danny Green w/35).
The Spurs shot 54.8% from the field (46-84), 61.9% from deep (13-21), they also out-rebounded Minnesota 53-34 and punished the Wolves in the paint 54-30. Minnesota did force the Spurs into 20 turnovers, where they were able to score 21 points. The Spurs forced Minnesota into just 12 turnovers, but turned those into 24 points on their end!
The Wolves had to play again the very next night against DeMarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Kings. The Kings are much improved this season and a lot of that has to do with Cousins and his focus on the court and dedication to be a bit more mature. Don't discount the offseason addition of Darren Collison as the starting point guard after a resurgent year in L.A. with CP3 and lastly, second-year head coach Mike Malone has this young upstart team playing hard on both ends of the floor.
It was a career-night for Andrew Wiggins who finished with 29pts, 5reb, 2ast, 4stls, 1blk, 1to, 1fl, 9-22 FG, 2-4 3PT and 9-10 FT in 41 minutes.
That was overshadowed by a monster game from Cousins who finished with 31pts, 18reb, 2ast, 1stl, 2blks, 3tos, 4fls, 11-15 FG, 9-10 FT in 39 minutes. Second-year guard Ben McLemore added 22pts, 9reb, 3ast, 1stl, 3tos, 5fls, 9-17 FG, 4-9 3PT in 41 minutes.
It was clear the Wolves missed Nikola Pekovic tonight. Pek has had a lot of big games against DeMarcus Cousins and usually does a pretty good job defensively against DMC. Gorgui Dieng is the better defensive big man, however it's Pek's strength going up against DeMarcus that gives Minnesota the advantage.
The Wolves were out-rebounded 50-37 and outscored in the paint 56-44. For the second game in a row, the Wolves kept the turnovers down 10 (11) while forcing their opponents into more mistakes: 19 (22).
The Wolves don't play again until Monday night vs. the Milwaukee Bucks at the Target Center. Thaddeus Young should be back as the team's starting power forward. It sounds as though the Wolves will still be without Nikola Pekovic (and of course Rubio & Martin). Which means the likely starting lineup: Williams, Brewer, Wiggins, Young and Dieng. Tipoff is set for 7pmCST, enjoy the game and GO WOLVES!