Multiple times this season I've criticized certain players for poor or inefficient play. That was the case in my gameday preview of this one when I spoke ill of the Wolves' starting backcourt (Luke Ridnour & Malcolm Lee) and Kevin Love's inefficiency, shooting the ball since his return. Tonight this trio gave me a slap in the face, much like Greg Stiemsma, Derrick Williams and J.J. Barea have this year.
I said Stiemsma wasn't boxing out and couldn't finish offensively, he then grabbed 7 rebounds and scored a season-high 12 points in the following game. I (like most) criticized Derrick Williams lackluster performances. Then he went off for that 23-point night. Yesterday I said the starting backcourt just wasn't working and that they should consider a lineup change. That was following a night when the Warriors' starting backcourt (Curry & Thompson) combined for 44 and Ridnour/Lee could only muster 2. Luke Ridnour entered the game snapping the net and doing so at a high clip. Surprisingly, so did Lee! They combined for 28 on the night and some good D vs. Brooks & Evans (early on). Kevin Love ditched the pad and tonight he shot 47% from the field (despite going 2-for-8 from deep).
When the fourth quarter rolled around I was nervous for another collapse, however thanks to some key contributors, the Wolves were able to hold on. The Wolves were up 75-67 after three quarters, however the Kings were able to cut that lead to just three points (75-72) with just under two minutes gone in the fourth. Then, Alexey Shved hit two threes on consecutive posessions to push the lead to 81-74 with just over nine minutes to play in the fourth quarter. The Kings were able to cut the lead down to three once again (88-85) with right around three and a half minutes to play. With 1:20 to play it was a two-point game, 91-89. AK hit Pek for a wide-open layup to push the lead to 4, then AK blocked Cousins on the other end. The next possession, with the shot clock winding down, Love hit an unbelievable circus-esque turnaround jumper. A defensive stop on the next possession sealed the W for Minnesota.
The losing streak has finally been halted, the Wolves are now 6-7 on the year, though things don't get much easier as they'll face the Clippers tomorrow night.
HOT: Kevin Love! Love hauled in a season-high 24 rebounds as well as a career-high 21 defensive rebounds. Playing without that protective pad, he looked very comfortable out there and finished with a VERY impressive stat line. For the Kings, Evans & Cousins both finished with 20pts, however for Cousins it was ultimately a rough night. He only played 28 minutes because of (his usual) foul trouble and still jacked up 22 shots, hitting only 9 of them, shot 41% from the field in the game.
NOT: Derrick Williams & Greg Stiemsma. Two players that were pegged to be key players off the bench for the Minnesota Timberwolves, now (since Kevin Love has come back) can't get off the bench.
MISC. STATS: Malcolm Lee finished with 10pts which ties a season and career-high. He also hit two three-pointers (a new career-high).....Nikola Pekovic finished with 4 assists on the night, which is also a new career-high....
On the back of Love's 24 rebounds, the Wolves absolutely crushed the Kings on the boards, holding a +15 advantage! The Wolves finally knocked down their free-throws, leaving just three at the line. The Kings were able to force Minnesota into 17 turnovers, which they scored 22 off of, that huge advantage on the boards (when you look at these team stats) is likely the key reason Minnesota was able to snap that nasty five-game losing streak.
The Wolves are back in action tomorrow night vs. the Clippers in Los Angeles at the Staples Center. Tipoff for that one is set for 9:30pmCT and a full gameday preview of that one 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!