The Minnesota Timberwolves were in this one till the end and gave themselves a chance to win this one, but Memphis was able to pull away late and down Minnesota, 86-93.
Minnesota were able to hang around in this one thanks to none other than....Kevin Love. I doubt there was too much suspense to that, we all know Kevin Love is the heart and soul of this team, but unfortunately he didn't have too much help as Memphis got some big performances from a number of players. The Grizzlies, on the other hand, got at least 12 points from all five of their starters.
The Grizzlies were playing without their starting All-Star center Marc Gasol, who was out with a sore ankle. Dante Cunningham & Marreese Speights paired in the frontcourt to go against Derrick Williams & Kevin Love. The TWolves were without Nikola Pekovic (bone spurs-ankle), J.J. Barea (thigh bruise) and Luke Ridnour is far from 100%....or even 70%!
A late push by Memphis had them up by 11 points in the final two minutes. Minnesota was able to cut that by a couple threes from Kevin Love & Wayne Ellington were able to cut it to 5, but the Grizzlies hit a few more shots and by then all that was in doubt was the final score. The big difference in that final quarter was free throws and fouls. The TWolves were whistled for 8 fouls, Memphis for 2, the Grizzlies shot 14 free-throws and made 13, while Minnesota went 0-for-0.
Minnesota dropped to 24-27 on the year and are now 3.5 games behind Utah, Denver & Houston--who're currently tied for the 7th seed in the Western Conference.
The Grizzlies are a great team and showed why they'll be one of the top six seeds in the Western Conference come April. The Grizz moved to 27-21 on the year and are a great team at home: 17-7.
This is the 7th straight TWolves loss to the Grizzlies. The TWolves will have one last chance to face Memphis this year. That game comes April 17th at the Target Center.
Let's take a look at some of tonight's top performers...
HOT: Kevin Love. 28 points, hitting some big threes and continually carrying Minnesota on the offensive end. I really hope Pek can come back SOON! Pek gives a lot to this team. The TWolves could definitely use his low-post scoring/presence & rebounding. For the Grizz, Rudy Gay & Speights were 'en fuego'! All five Memphis starters scored in double digits but they headlined that group and Speights' interior defense & low-post scoring was key.
NOT: Anthony Tolliver & Michael Beasley. Both of these guys are capable of a lot more. You've got to think with a little more output on the offensive end from one of those guys--this one could've turned out differently. Tolliver had been on a tear the past few games, before tonight's 2pts, 1reb, 1blk in 13 minutes. Beasley is always capable of getting hot, tonight was not one of those nights. He finished with 3pts, 1reb in 11 minutes.
MISC.: Martell Webster had 10rebs (5def, 5off) and 9pts......Ridnour led MIN with 5 assists.......Love's four blocks is a season-high.......Cunningham was in the starting lineup with Gasol out, he had 14rebs (10def, 4off).........
KEY STATS: The key to tonight's win for Memphis? Out-rebounded Minnesota by a +9, killed the Wolves on the break with a +13 (8 of their fast break points came in the first few minutes of the 1st quarter), the Grizzlies beat the Wolves in the paint with a +8. Surprisingly, however, the TWolves committed less turnovers than Memphis and the Wolves scored more points off those TO's. The 0% Memphis shot from three is a new season-low for a TWolves opponent.
UP NEXT: Tomorrow night (Wednesday, March 28) vs. the Charlotte Bobcats in Charlotte.
Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!