When you couple that great and much-needed production from the bench, with improved defensive team play that resulted in a lot of Pelican turnovers and some solid TWolves free-throw shooting, the result is a good win.
The Timberwolves have definitely started 2014 out on the right foot. Here's hoping that now that the Wolves are at .500 (16-16) once again, that they won't fall below any more this season!
Kevin Love's streak of 11-straight games with 25+ points came to an end tonight as he finished with 21 points and just 6 rebounds. He was on the bench for the majority of the final quarter as the Wolves had this one well in hand. Pek chipped in 22 points & 7 boards and Rubio flirted once again with a triple-double: 14 points, 8 rebounds & 9 assists (also adding 3 steals & 2 blocks).
The Wolves opened up a big lead in the third quarter thanks to some solid defense that allowed a 15-0 run. All night long, they turned Pelican turnovers into fast break opportunities and more than once Brewer & Martin went outlet shopping with K-Love.
One big key beyond those turnovers that resulted in easy buckets was the play from Nikola Peković. We knew coming in that the likes of Davis, Anderson & Stiemsma wouldn't be able to handle Pek on the low-block and that was most certainly the case. It was obvious that Davis would guard Love which would leave Anderson, Ajinca & Stiemsma to guard Pek and it was painfully obvious that Nik had the physicality advantage. Pek continued his recent dominance with a 22-point night.
The bench was certainly impressive. Barea's stat line improved as he was playing with more teammates that were offensive threats. It's hard to get things going offensively if you have to do it all yourself. With Dante hitting mid-range jumpers and Alexey having his best game of the season thus far, it definitely opened things up for J.J. Shved did a little bit of everything tonight--playing active defense, using his long arms to get deflections in passing lanes, hitting open jumpers, finding open teammates and simply playing with energy and intensity. If he can continue what he displayed tonight, Adelman will most certainly continue to find more minutes for him.
Tonight's box score...