The Minnesota Timberwolves followed up a win over the New York Knicks earlier this week with two-straight losses to Western Conference foes.
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!
The Minnesota Timberwolves played their first true home game in the past 18 days on Wednesday night when they took on the New York Knicks.
The Wolves were without Ricky Rubio (ankle), Nikola Pekovic (wrist) and Thaddeus Young (personal). That meant that they were without 60% of their starting lineup!
Saunders trotted out a starting lineup of Mo Williams, Kevin Martin, Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng to go up against Shane Larkin, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony, Quincy Acy and Samuel Dalembert.
Both Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer were game-time decisions. Both of them had to receive IVs before the game. Martin led the team with a game-high 37 points while Corey Brewer added 14 points off the bench.
Despite being shorthanded, the Wolves had five players finish in double figures. Mo Williams, who hadn't started a game this season (despite Rubio going down with that ankle injury). Saunders had been going with LaVine at point guard and despite flashes of the potential that made him a lotto-pick this summer, he didn't look entirely comfortable running the team. Part of this reason was to keep the veteran Williams' minutes down, hoping to keep his court time around 25-30 minutes a night. In 31 minutes vs. the Knicks, Williams turned in his best game as a Wolf with 14pts & 13ast.
We found out on Friday afternoon that Kevin Martin fractured his wrist during this contest. It happened on a three-point attempt when he was hit by Shane Larkin during the first quarter. He continued to play and scored 34 points on a broken wrist! Unfortunately, Martin will now be out indefinitely.
That means the starting lineup will continue to change when the Wolves take on the Spurs on Friday night. The Wolves will be without Ricky Rubio (ankle), Kevin Martin (wrist), Thaddeus Young (personal), Nikola Pekovic (wrist) and Ronny Turiaf (knee). Which means the only starter the Wolves began the season with, will be starting: rookie Andrew Wiggins. If I had to venture to guess, Saunders will likely trot out: Mo Williams, Corey Brewer, Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett & Gorgui Dieng.
Martin scored 37 points on 14-for-20 shooting including 7-for-11 from deep including 4 boards, 2 assists & 2steals. Mo Williams had the double-double, Corey Brewer had 14 points & 6 steals off the bench and Shabazz Muhammad (who started at power forward) had 17 points & 8 rebounds, however the most impressive stat line of the night (in my opinion) came from center Gorgui Dieng who finished with 8 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals and 1 block in 32 minutes. Dieng continues to round out his game and tonight's all-around effort is most certainly noteworthy.
The defending champs, the San Antonio Spurs travel to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves on Friday night. That one tips at 7pmCST. Enjoy the game!
The Minnesota Timberwolves are now 2-7 on the year and riding a five-game losing streak after consecutive losses to Southwest division opponents.
In New Orleans on Friday, the Wolves were dismantled by an upstart Pelicans team that's not only healthy (after a season of debilitating injuries to key players), but they've also added some key pieces (namely center Omer Asik). Led by superstar Anthony Davis the Pelicans had little trouble doing exactly what the Wolves did to them a season ago.
It was the Minnesota Timberwolves that had little trouble with the Pelicans a season ago. They blew them out thanks to excellent play from the post-duo of Kevin Love & Nikola Pekovic.
In Friday's matchup, the Wolves were without (Kevin Love of course and...) starters Ricky Rubio (ankle) and Thaddeus Young (personal). In their places, Zach LaVine and Gorgui Dieng started alongside Martin, Wiggins & Pekovic.
The Pelicans pounced early scoring 43 points in the first quarter (to Minnesota's 19). They added another 37 in the second quarter and 38 more for good measure in the third to officially put the game out of reach well before the fourth quarter began.
New Orleans shot an astounding 66.7% from the field (56-for-84), including 15-for-20 (75%) from deep.
A combination of bad defense and missing key players, the Wolves just couldn't keep up. When a team scores the ball that well, there may not be any team in the League that can keep up with that type of scoring pace.
The end result was a 91-139 win for the Pelicans--rocking the TWolves by 48 points! If I wasn't a Wolves fan, I might just jump on that Pelicans bandwagon. They have some terrific talent led by Anthony Davis & Jrue Holiday. If they can continue to round out their bench, they may have a perennial contender on their hands.
Speaking of perennial contenders...the Minnesota Timberwolves travelled to Dallas following Friday's loss to take on the Mavericks on Saturday night.
Again, if I wasn't a Wolves fan, I might be tempted to cheer on these Dallas Mavericks. Led by the quartet of Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis, Tyson Chandler & Chandler Parsons; ran by the point head group of Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris, Raymond Felton & J.J. Barea; and aided by the immense depth provided by Richard Jefferson, Jae Crowder, Al-Faroq Aminu, Brandan Wright and Charlie Villanueva--the Mavericks have a lot of talent on this roster and I would be pretty shocked if they didn't return to their 50-win season ways.
It was that depth and the ability to give the Timberwolves all kinds of different looks on both ends of the court that helped the Mavericks really run away with this victory.
A night after getting blown out by the New Orleans Pelicans and still missing two of their starters (Rubio & Young) the Wolves looked like a team that had been on the road for far too long and simply wanted to get back home.
The result ended up being a fifth-straight loss at the end of this six-game road trip.
The Mavericks did it by committee. Led by Monta Ellis' 30pts, the Mavericks had eight players score in double figures and four players with at least five assists. And of course one of those players was former Wolf J.J. Barea who scored 14 points and added 5 assists off the bench in 21 minutes for the Mavs.
The one bit of good news from tonight's game was the play from Kevin Martin & Mo Williams. Both players have struggled during this road trip, but both seemed to find their shooting touches in this loss. Martin especially as he scored a game-high 34 points on 12-for-17 shooting, including 4-for-6 from deep.
The Timberwolves have three days off until their next game: Wednesday vs. the New York Knicks at the Target Center. That game tips at 7pmCST. Enjoy the game and GO WOLVES!
The Minnesota Timberwolves kept things close for the first half, however Dwight Howard proved to be too much for these Wolves as the Rockets were able to pull away in the third quarter. That success was thanks to Howard bullying Pekovic & Dieng in the paint and Houston's scorching hot touch from deep.
The game was played in Mexico City. The same arena the Wolves were supposed to square off against the San Antonio Spurs a season ago. Thanks to a faulty generator, the arena filled with smoke and the game wasn't played. It was later rescheduled back at the Target Center later in the season.
Neither team could make any stops in the first half. The Rockets were able to do just that in the third quarter and made a run to seal the win.
Dwight Howard led the Rockets with 22 points & 10 rebounds. Corey Brewer led the Wolves with 18 points. It was against the Rockets a season ago that Corey Brewer dropped 51 points in a win at the Target Center.
Both teams were without their starting point guards (Ricky Rubio & Patrick Beverley). Zach LaVine got the start at point guard again and he responded with 8 points, 3 rebounds & 9 assists.
Trevor Ariza added 18 and rookie Kostas Papanikolau scored a career-high 14.
The Wolves move to 2-5 on the year, while the Rockets improve to 7-1. The Rockets are now tied with Memphis for the top spot in the Western Conference. The Wolves are 0-2 vs. Western Conference foes this season...the two teams they've faced? Memphis & Houston.
The Wolves are back in action Friday night in New Orleans vs. the Pelicans. Tipoff is set for 7pmCST.
The Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night, but followed up that performance with back-to-back losses in Florida to the Magic on Friday and the Heat on Saturday.
The Wolves are now 2-4 on the season.
Versus the Nets, the Wolves started the game strong, building a quick double digit lead early in the first quarter. The Nets shook off a cold start to make it a ball game. The Wolves, however, finished the game as the started--strong. It was strong play from Nikola Pekovic who took advantage of his favorable matchup with Brook Lopez. It was a late bucket from Pek that aided the Wolves to the win. In addition to that, double-doubles from Pek (16pts & 11reb), Young (12pts & 12reb) and Rubio (14pts, 12ast)--Ricky was also just 2reb (8) shy of a triple-double. Minnesota was led by 24pts from Martin and Andrew Wiggins had his largest scoring output in his rookie campaign--17pts.
Unfortunately the Wolves were unable to follow up that impressive win over the Nets with a win over the Orlando Magic.
Orlando is a non-playoff team in the Eastern Conference. They're a young team with a lot of young players--much like the Timberwolves. The Wolves had a chance to win the game down the stretch. With the game tied at 94, Kevin Martin missed a jumper from the elbow. The Magic outscored the Wolves 18-9 in overtime for the 9-point victory.
The Wolves were led once again by Kevin Martin with 21pts & 5ast. Pekovic added 16pts & 7reb; Brewer came off the bench for 16pts, 5reb & 3stls in 28 minutes. Gorgui Dieng played 25 minutes off the bench and finished with a double-double: 11pts, 10reb, 2stls & 2blks.
Unfortunately the Wolves lost Ricky Rubio in the second quarter when he went down with an ankle sprain. Ultimately it was diagnosed as a severely sprained ankle. He'll be on crutches for the next 10-14 days and then be re-evaluated. The swelling in the ankle needs to go down before it can be properly diagnosed. A low ankle sprain will keep him out of action for a shorter period of time--the higher up the ankle the sprain is, the more time he's likely to miss.
The Wolves were back in action the very next night. Zach LaVine started in Ricky's place and finished with 5pts, 6reb, 4ast, 1stl and 2tos in 26 minutes.
The Wolves dug themselves an early hole with a TERRIBLE first quarter in which they made just 5 field goals for 13 points. They shot 31% FG, while the Heat scored 31 points on 72% FG.
The Wolves outscored the Heat in the ensuing three quarters, however that 16-point first quarter deficit proved to be too much to overcome. Minnesota did get it within 4 points with just over four minutes to play. This was thanks to a 12-0 run midway through the final quarter which included two triples from Kevin Martin.
Martin who led the Wolves in scoring with 22.5 points per game coming into the game, didn't score until this final quarter.
With no Rubio, the Wolves desperately needed big outings from Martin & Mo Williams, however they were unable to get anything going until late in that final quarter. Unfortunately the Heat were able to weather a late Wolves surge.
The Wolves got 19pts & 11reb from Pekovic who was guarded by Shawne Williams much of the night--a matchup the Wolves HAD to take advantage of--and did. Thad Young added 16pts & 6reb; Gorgui Dieng had 12pts & 6reb off the bench and Shabazz Muhammad came off the bench and tied a season-high with 13 points & 2 rebounds in 11 minutes--and was a big part of that late run that gave the Wolves a chance down the stretch.
The Wolves are now 2-4 on the season. They'll have a couple days off before facing the Houston Rockets on Wednesday in Mexico City. That is a late tip--9pmCST.
The Chicago Bulls were without their star: Derrick Rose, who suffered an ankle injury last night. Kirk Hinrich started at point guard in his place and he was joined the backcourt by Jimmy Butler. Butler made a surprise start. He was supposed to be out for a couple weeks with that thumb injury.
It was the play of Jimmy Butler that aided the Bulls to this slim victory. He led Chicago with 24 points which included the final two points of the night.
Kevin Martin hit a three-pointer with 2.4 seconds to play to put the Wolves up by one, 105-104.
Out of the inbounds, Jimmy Butler caught the ball, stumbled, recovered and then pump faked to get Andrew Wiggins in the air where he was able to draw contact and went to the line for two free throws. He nailed them both to give the Bulls the lead and the win.
Kevin Martin returned to the starting lineup. He missed the Wolves season opener and he came off the bench on Thursday against the Pistons. As the starting shooting guard, he scored a game-high 33 points. He was joined in the starting lineup by Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins, Thaddeus Young and Nikola Pekovic.
Here's a look at tonight's full box score...
The Wolves held a 42-38 rebound advantage and a 40-34 points in the paint advantage. The Wolves also committed just 11 turnovers to Chicago's 17, which the Wolves turned into 23 points.
Pau Gasol finished with 20pts, 6reb & 4blks. Aaron Brooks came off the bench and was definitely instant offense. He finished the night with 16pts & 5ast in 23 minutes.
The Wolves had Nikola Pekovic adding 17pts & 4reb. Anthony Bennett had a GREAT game, he finished with 12pts, 5reb, 2stls & 1blk in 20 minutes off the bench. Gorgui Dieng finished with a near double-double: 10pts & 8reb.
Most impressive on the night? Ricky Rubio's 17 assists! That ties a career-high for Rubio. It also ties the franchise record previously held by...Ricky Rubio. Rubio is fresh off that big extension. Here's hoping that he continues this inspired play.
The Timberwolves don't play again until Wednesday night. They'll be on the road in Brooklyn against the Nets. That game is a slightly earlier start, 6:30pmCST. Until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!