The Minnesota Timberwolves handed the Washington Wizards their worst loss of the season on Friday night and it was the perfect beginning to a vital stretch in Minnesota's schedule.
The Timberwolves have had plenty of ups and downs this season, however avenging the loss in November to the Wizards, with a win tonight as the perfect remedy to recent woes.
I was unfortunately unable to watch the game because I was on the road--traveling to Tennessee to visit some relatives. It was about a 14-hour drive and we did it in one day. I'm here until January 2nd and the coverage on the site may not be as it usually is, but I'll be back on the 2nd and I'm heading to the Target Center for the January 4th game vs. the Thunder!
So, the first game I missed this season was one where the bench performed quite well. Alexey Shved & J.J. Barea turned in terrific performances as they combined for 30 points on 65% FG. If Minny's reserve backcourt can parlay this performance into future success, this Wolves team won't stay under .500 for long.
It's no secret that one problem has been production from the bench. If the Wolves can right that wrong, it's a big step into the Western Conference playoff picture. The other is, of course DEFENSE!
The Wizards had Bradley Beal on a minute-restriction (he played just 26) and were without their starting power forward--Nene. John Wall was up to his usual tricks and despite limited minutes, Beal turned in a solid offensive performance. The Wolves have struggled with good offensive backcourts. Wall & Beal combined for 40 points, but the Wolves were able to shut other players down (Ariza, Webster, Gortat, etc.) to secure a MUCH needed win.
In addition to Barea & Shved's production, the Wolves got good production (the usual production) from Kevin Love & Nikola Peković. The Bruise Brothers each finished with a double-double and Ricky Rubio finished 2 rebounds & 1 assist shy of a triple-double (though he played just 27 minutes).
Here's a look at the box score...
The Timberwolves actually held a team under 50% from the field and what was the result?! A win! I can't speak to seeing good defense (because I didn't watch the game), but this Wizards team is one that has plenty of offensive firepower and holding them to 45.8% from the field isn't superb, but it's a step in the right direction for a team that has allowed so many opponents to snap the nets at such a high rate.
The Wolves also won the rebounding battle 44-35 and the battle in the paint 48-34. The most impressive stat to me was the turnover number. The Wolves turned the ball over just five times to Washington's thirteen. The box score is from ESPN and I have a feeling that (points off turnover) number is incorrect--I can't fathom how the Wizards would score 19 points off of 5 turnovers! Even if they nailed a three off of each turnover--that's just 15 points. So, I think it's safe to say that's an error.
The Timberwolves are right back at it Saturday night in Milwaukee at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. A showdown with the Bucks is set for 7:30pmCST. I will say, it's highly unlikely I'll have time to write a preview for that one, but I'll do my best! Thanks for reading and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!