The Minnesota Timberwolves built a 14-point lead in the second half, however they wanted to make this one a nail-biter with a wild finale. Luckily it ended in MIN's favor and the TWolves walk away with a narrow three-point victory and move above .500, now 10-9.
This one was a back-and-forth affair through the first half as the TWolves went to the locker room at halftime with a 51-50 lead. The Wolves finished the third quarter up by seven points and within the first part of the fourth quarter the Wolves were able to build a double digit lead. The Nuggets stayed calm however and thanks to big fourth quarters from Danilo Gallinari (9pts of his 24) and Corey Brewer (10pts of his 14). The Wolves were able to edge with some solid defensive plays late as well as stellar play from J.J. Barea (11pts of his 17), Dante (5pts of his 12) and Kirilenko (6pts of his 18).
The TWolves' lineup late in the ball game was J.J. Barea, Luke Ridnour, Andrei Kirilenko, Dante Cunningham and Nikola Pekovic/Kevin Love. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be writing about how the Wolves were able to hold on to a lead for the narrow victory. Too often this season I've had the displeasure of writing posts on how the Wolves blew another lead in the second half for yet another disappointing loss.
The Wolves notch their first win against a division opponent (was previously 0-2, with losses to Denver & Portland earlier this season) and 4-5 vs. Western Conference foes. The head to New Orleans on Friday and will be back at the Target Center come Saturday for a matchup with the Dallas Mavericks. Both of those games are VERY winnable. Next week they'll have games vs. the Thunder and the Heat that will test these Wolves. Rubio is expected to debut on Saturday vs. the Mavericks barring any setbacks and his presence automatically makes the Wolves exponentially more dangerous on both ends of the floor.
Let's take a look at some of tonight's top performers...
HOT: Nikola Pekovic. Pek got back on track following last week as he was battling an ankle injury and clearly didn't look like himself out there. Tonight Pek exploded for 22 and 11 vs. the likes of Kosta Koufos, Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee. He scored 10 of his 22 points in the third quarter while the Wolves built that slim second half lead. Kirilenko posted another great all-around game and J.J. had yet another double digit scoring night off the bench. For the Nuggets, it was all Kenneth Faried and Danilo Gallinari. Faried scored 14 of his 26 points in the first quarter, while also adding 14reb. In their last matchup, Faried was a non-factor, scoring just 4 points all night, tonight he nearly quadrupled that in the first quarter alone! Danilo tossed in 24 including 9 of those in the fourth quarter as it looked like the Nuggets might come back and steal the W.
NOT: Kevin Love. He did finish with 14 rebounds, however he was only able to muster 8 points on 3-of-17 shooting. Luckily the Wolves got some stellar play from the gentlemen listed above--as well as 15 from Ridnour and 12 from Dante off the bench.
Let's take a look at the team stats...
THE TIMBERWOLVES ACTUALLY HIT SOME FREE THROWS!!! It had to happen sooner or later and it was the key to this win, had the Wolves finished the night at those 50-60% mark(s), the Wolves would have lost and by a large deficit, too. The Wolves grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and finished with a slim lead in rebounds, the TWolves bench also got back on track and outscored Denver's by a +15. Along with the free throw edge and the stellar play from the bench, the TWolves were able to force the Nuggets into 19 turnovers while also scoring 27 points off of those turnovers!
That's all for now, the TWolves will be back in action vs. the New Orleans Hornets at New Orleans Arena on Friday, tipoff for that one is set for 7pmCT and a full gameday preview of that one can be found on this site before then, until then thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!