Coming in to tonight's game, I assumed the Wolves' inside game would be the story. I figured Kevin Love & Nikola Pekovic would dominate the likes of Thaddeus Young & Lavoy Allen. That wasn't the case...in fact, the combined for just 12pts, 15reb, 7ast, 5-17 FG while both played 26-27 minutes.
With your two best players struggling and being without their starting small forward (Kirilenko, with back spasms) you'd assume loss.
You wouldn't have figured that the worst three-point shooting team in the NBA (coming into tonight's game) would catch fire from deep and connect on 13 of their 25 attempts. Shved knocked down 4, Williams nailed 3, Howard & Lee both hit 2 and Love/Barea finished with one apiece.
After just one quarter the Wolves led 34-21. Howard scored 10 (of his 16) in that first quarter and Lee added 7 (of his 10). With 3:35 to play in the second quarter the Wolves hit the 60-point mark and led by 22, 60-38.
The Sixers did have a lot of great offensive sets that led to a lot of open looks, but the struggled to knock them down or stop the Wolves on D, their perimeter defense was especially poor.
At halftime the Wolves led 65-47. The Wolves shot 60% FG in the first half and 58% from deep. The Wolves bench had scored 32 (of their 57) points by halftime. Keys to grabbing that big lead: knocking down shots, bench scoring and decent D, too (by then they were on pace to hold PHI to 94). The Wolves themselves were on pace for 130 by the half. Every Minnesota Timberwolf was shooting over 50% coming out of halftime (excluding their best player: Kevin Love).
The Wolves weren't quite the offensive juggernaut they were in the first half (scoring 40 in the second half--65 in the first), but they were able to hold the Sixers to just 41 second half points for the 105-88 win. Glad to see Minnesota hold a lead and finish with a W.
Let's take a look at tonight's top performers from each team...
HOT: The Minnesota Timberwolves bench. Cunningham added 13 and D-Will had 10 as the Wolves had 7 players in double digits (starters Malcolm Lee & Luke Ridnour added 10pts apiece).
NOT: The Philadelphia 76ers. This isn't the same playoff squad from 2011-12, without Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bynum unable to play due to faulty knees, this doesn't look like a postseason-bound squad (to me).
MISC. STATS: Barea's 10 assists ties a season-high and it's J.J.'s first points/assists double-double of the season.....Malcolm Lee tied season and career highs in points (10), FGM (4) and 3PTM (2).....Love played just 26 minutes but finished with a season-high, 5 assists.....Shved's 4 made threes ties a season-high.....Williams' 3 made threes is a new season-high......Howard set new season-highs in points (16), FGM (7), FGA (12), 3's made (2), 3's attempted (3), defensive rebounds (8), rebounds (10) and minutes (29).....
Let's take a look at the team stats...
The Minnesota Timberwolves set new season-highs in FG% (53.2%), 3PTM (13), 3PT% (52%). Their 41 FGM, 28 assists and 105 points are all the second-most in their categories for the Wolves this season. Those 57 bench points were vital for this win, on a night when Kevin Love & Nikola Pekovic score 6pts apiece and Andrei Kirilenko is injured with back spasms, bench scoring becomes vital.
The Wolves are back in action tomorrow (Wed. 12/5) in Boston at the TD Garden vs. the Celtics. That one tips at 6:30pmCT and a full gameday preview can be found on this site before then. That's all for now, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!