The Minnesota Timberwolves turned in a bounce-back win over the Milwaukee Bucks in their return to the Target Center following that 1-3 road trip through the West Coast.
This win is thanks in large part to five players: Alexey Shved, Luke Ridnour, J.J. Barea, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic. All five players scored in double digits AND Kevin Love/Nikola Pekovic combined for 30 rebounds (of MIN's 56) on the night.
The Timberwolves move to 7-8 on the year and will head into their next game (Tues @PHI) with a chance to move back to that .500 mark.
The TWolves trotted out yet another, different starting lineup. Without Andrei Kirilenko again, out with back spasms, the Wolves started Josh Howard (again) at small forward. Malcolm Lee was also out, missing this one with a groin injury. So, Adelman started a backcourt of Luke Ridnour & J.J. Barea and a frontcourt of Josh Howard, Kevin Love & Nikola Pekovic. There were some concerns with how Luke & J.J. would match up (defensively) with Ellis & Jennings, however both did a fairly decent job, holding them to inefficient shooting nights (we'll get to that later though).
Despite an 11-point third quarter from the Minnesota Timberwolves, the still led by 5 points after three quarters and outscored the Bucks 27-22 in the fourth, thanks in large part to Luke Ridnour who had 7 of his 16pts and Alexey who added 10 of his 16 in that final quarter.
The Wolves struggled to score in the paint, thanks to a great shot-blocking presence, led by Larry Sanders, however they were able to hit more mid-range and three-point jumpers to secure this win. Nikola Pekovic scored 14pts in the game and 10 of his points came in the paint (10 of MIN's 26 on the night).
Let's take a look at the top performers for each team in this one...
HOT: The Minnesota Timberwolves! Those five players above in double figures led a very balanced and effective scoring attack for the Wolves who were without their starting small forward (Andrei Kirilenko) who misses his second consecutive game with back spasms AND with an 'ill' Kevin Love, who was rumored to be battling a bout with food poisoning and was a gametime decision in this one. He continues to struggle to shoot the ball however, connecting on just 5 of 19 overall and 1 of 7 from deep. For the Bucks, it was Larry Sanders off the bench. Sanders recorded a triple-double and tied a Bucks record for most blocks in a game, he now shares the record with former great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
NOT: Monta Ellis & Brandon Jennings. Both dumped in 18 apiece for the Bucks, however they did so with very little efficiency, combining to shoot 14-of-41 from the field (34%). It was clear going into this game--if you could contain or bother them defensively the Wolves would have an excellent chance of winning. I'd consider them shooting 34%--some bothersome D.
The Wolves finally got their three-point shooting going. Making 8 on 19 tries. Those 8 makes is their second-best this season and that 42.1% is the Wolves' best three-point shooting night so far this season. Those 56 total rebounds is also a new season-high for the team and the 40 defensive rebounds is the second-most on the year. The Wolves struggle to keep a handle on the ball as they turned it over 16 times, though that advantage on the boards and those solid shooting percentages helped them escape with the win. You can tell why the Bucks had that large advantage in points in the paint, when you look at all the blocks they tallied thanks (mostly) to Larry Sanders.
That's all for now, the Wolves have the next few days off, they won't return to action until Tuesday night when they face the 76ers in Philadelphia. Ricky Rubio should be practicing these next few days and we should have an update on that sometime this weekend. Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!