Kevin Love was absolutely fantastic! He scored 42 points and set a new franchise record with 8 made three-pointers. He was simply incredible and it was a lot of fun to watch. Unfortunately it was all for naught because the Wolves lost and I'm sure that's exactly what he said at the final buzzer with the media huddled around his locker. Unfortunately the Spurs defense locked down on him in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter. From 5:34 on, Love didn't attempt a field goal until a last-second heave with nine seconds to play. Locking him down over those final minutes was key in this San Antonio W.
These two teams certainly battled as evident by the 20 lead changes. The Wolves' interior defense was a sieve tonight as the Spurs went off for 62 points in the paint thanks in large part to slashers Tony Parker & Manu Ginobili along with some 'bunnies' from Tim Duncan & Boris Diaw.
While watching Tony Parker drive the lane for layups possession after possession, I was stunned that Adelman didn't turn to Gorgui Dieng to try and defend the rim a little bit. He tried Dante Cunningham a bit, but while he is a solid versatile defender, he's no shot-blocker. Dieng is still a very raw player, but his greatest strength could've been put to good use tonight and there's no doubt that he needs to see some court time for development.
The Spurs are a terrific defense team that came into the game allowing teams to score just over 92 points a night. The Wolves had 89 points after three quarters so they were having little trouble with the Spurs defense, however their own defense was incredibly porous. Yet again, the Wolves allowed another opponent to shoot over 50% from the field and score a lot of easy buckets.
In both meetings with Denver this season the Wolves allowed the Nuggets to get to the rim at will for easy baskets, tonight's game was more the same, the only difference being that the Timberwolves offense was running pretty well.
Let's take a look at tonight's box score...
Kevin Martin struggled once again. He started the game 0-for-2 from deep, but then came alive for a stretch in that first quarter where he hit a three, snagged a rebound, registered a steal, sliced down the lane for a layup and sunk two free throws. After that stretch that lasted a few minutes it seemed as though he was back on track, but he ultimately just kind of faded into the background. That's in part because of Love's offensive explosion, but with Love struggling in the final quarter to even get a shot attempt, Martin didn't take control to keep the Wolves in this one. Martin needs to get back on track if the Wolves want to move back over .500 at any point this season.
The biggest takeaway from tonight's game should be that the Timberwolves need to find a way to improve the team defense. We know they're not going to be an elite defensive squad, but they have to find a way to limit opponents shot attempts at the rim and quit allowing such high opponent shooting percentages. The offense can be absolutely lethal, but if they can't get stops they aren't going to beat the cream of the crop in the NBA!
Minnesota's next outing is in Memphis on Sunday, stay tuned for the preview, thanks for reading and GO WOLVES!