It was an emotional home opener for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Just two days after funeral services for their late head coach Flip Saunders, the Wolves were back in action vs. the Portland Trailblazers in front of 18,000 Target Center attendees.
The game was scheduled to tip at 7:00pmCT, but didn't start until 7:40pmCT. The reason was for a terrific presentation hosted by Tom Hanneman that honored the late Saunders with videos from executives and coaches as well as former and current Timberwolf players. It all concluded with a live performance of Hallelujah.
Below are the videos presented during the pre-game scenario followed by the live musical tribute...
There wasn't a dry eye in the house at the Target Center and I admit I definitely choked up myself--particularly when Milt Newton spoke about Flip. Kevin Garnett was one of the only current players not to be a part of the video, reportedly it was too hard emotionally...understandable considering the relationship they had these past twenty years.
On to the recap...
The Timberwolves were absolutely fantastic in the first quarter. They started on an 8-0 run to take an 8-1 lead and led by as many as 17 points. The Wolves ended the first quarter up 34-21, led by Kevin Martin with 11 points and Ricky Rubio with 6pts, 4reb, & 4ast. Damian Lillard finished the first quarter with 10pts, 2ast, & 1stl.
The Timberwolves couldn't recapture that lightning in a bottle they harnessed in the first quarter and they struggled over the final three quarters. The Blazers erased the 17-point deficit and even led by double digits themselves over the final three quarters. The Wolves battled back in the final minutes, but some questionable late-game calls ultimately left the Wolves with their first loss of the season.
Here's the full box score from tonight's contest...
Towns couldn't register his third-straight double-double, but he still looked good throughout on both ends of the floor. It's truly amazing for a rookie how calm and collected he is on both ends of the floor.
Rubio finished just 1 rebound and 1 assist shy of a triple-double. The Wolves were led in scoring by Kevin Martin with another big game off the bench, 24 points. The Wolves desperately need Andrew Wiggins to find his offensive rhythm, especially considering the starting lineup the Wolves put out. They rely heavily on offense from Rubio, Towns, and Wiggins in those first quarters.
Lillard was ultra-impressive with a game-high 34 points in what I believe will be one of many big games courtesy of Lillard this season. Damian being the only starter from the Blazers of a year ago, he is the featured player for this Portland squad. They'll rely heavily on his offensive production night in and night out.
The Timberwolves are back in action on Thursday night vs. the Miami Heat at the Target Center. We leave you with tonight's highlights...
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!