The TWolves finally got Andrei Kirilenko & Nikola Pekovic back from the inactive list and that coupled with Derrick Williams' best offensive game of his NBA career, the Wolves snatched their 23rd win of the season with a narrow 2-point W.
Derrick Williams led the charge with a career-high 28 points to lead (now) eleven guys to the W. Andrei was back after missing 8-straight games and Pekovic after seven-straight. Not only did they return and start, they both made some very key plays in the final minute of action...
With 18 seconds to play, the Wolves were down by one (94-95). Derrick Williams drove the lane and missed the layup. Dante nearly came down with the rebound, but it was tipped out to the middle of the key and Nikola Pekovic snatched it over three Hornet rebounders. He was fouled and sent to the line. He stepped up and hit both free throws to give the Wolves a 96-95 lead. Out of a timeout, the Hornets looked to take advantage of the Eric Gordon-Luke Ridnour mismatch. Gordon drove the left side of the lane and looked to have a layup right over Ridnour, but instead, Kirilenko came across the lane for a big block. He was fouled and sent to the line for two free throws with just over 5 seconds to play. He went 1 of 2 at the line to give the Wolves the 97-95 advantage. The Hornets took their last timeout. Out of the timeout, Roger Mason inbounded the ball, slid to the corner and got it right back for a last second three and the win. He missed, the Wolves rebounded and time expired for Minnesota's 23rd win of the season.
Some big free throws from Pek & a big block from AK were key in this narrow victory. It was definitely strange to finally see them back out there. They'll both likely play again tomorrow in Memphis. After Monday's game in Memphis the Wolves don't play again until Thursday (and then again on Friday) the hope is that Chase Budinger will return for one of those two games.
The Wolves are getting healthy and should make for some much more exciting Minnesota Timberwolves basketball in the last month of the season.
Let's take a look at tonight's top performers...
A big game from Derrick Williams who continues to provide a consistent scoring threat for this undermanned Minnesota team. Some of the scoring responsibility will be lifted as Kirilenko & Pekovic get their conditioning back 'up to snuff', but his continued improvement and steady play has been fun to watch this past month and a half.
Ricky Rubio had a good night, he didn't have the big assist, rebound or steal numbers, but he did have a good scoring night and did so efficiently shooting 7-for-11 on the night.
It was great to have Pek back in the lineup and finally, once again have a reliable scoring threat in the low-post. Williams is becoming a great scorer, but his offense relies on long-range/mid-range jumpers and slicing to the rim for easy baskets.
Vasquez had a pretty good night. He did score 24, but took 25 shots to get there and unfortunately finished with more turnovers (6) than assists (5). If I had a vote, I'd name him the NBA's Most Improved Player of the Year.
Lopez & Davis had success in the previous meetings against the Wolves and tonight was more of the same. Davis averages just under 8 rebounds a game and Lopez just over 5 rebounds a game, so to allow those two to dominate you on the boards is not very encouraging.
The TWolves shot their second-best percentage from the field in this one, while also taking the least amount of field goal attempts on the year. The Wolves were hammered on the boards, especially in offensive rebounds. The Hornets (who aren't really a great rebounding team) absolutely dominated the glass. The Wolves made up for that advantage on the boards and the Hornets' +12 advantage in points in the paint, by getting to the line 11 more times than their opponent and getting 8 extra points at the line.
The Wolves will be back in action tomorrow night when they face the Grizzlies in Memphis at the FedEx Forum. Stay tuned for a preview of that one tomorrow morning, until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!