The Minnesota Timberwolves got another big night from the 'supporting cast' that continues to show they're more than capable of carrying the load when Kevin Love struggles.
Nikola Pekovic finished with a career-high 31pts along with a career-high 14 made field goals. He was one of six TWolves players that notched double figures in a 112-point night.
It was clear that this New Orleans Hornets team lacks a true interior presence. Anthony Davis is still developing and although he's a good defender, he's still pretty raw offensively, Robin Lopez seems to be simply a big body that can get the occasional rebound or putback, Ryan Anderson is more perimeter-oriented, certainly not a 'banger' in the post. Hence, it was clear why Nikola had a field day with the Hornets' frontcourt. The TWolves outscored the Hornets 70-42 in points in the paint.
After the first half the score was knotted at 50. It was actually the first time this season (through 20 games now) that the Wolves and their opponent were tied at a quarter's end. Minnesota caught fire in the second half, scoring 63 points, compared to 52 by the Hornets, for that 11-point W. Pekovic scored 11 points in the third quarter and added another 8 in the fourth to finish with 31 points in 32 minutes.
The Timberwolves improve to 11-9 on the season as they've notched their third-straight win and now move two games above .500 on the season. They've been able to do so without much help from Kevin Love and now it's sounding as though he could miss some time.
Love left the game in the final minute clutching his hand as he made his way to the locker room. We found out shortly after the final buzzer that he's suffered a right thumb contusion and is currently listed as day-to-day. He did have X-rays taken which came back negative. The Wolves began the game without Malcolm Lee--who's out indefinitely with a chrondal right knee injury. Then, Josh Howard left tonight's game in the first half with a hyperextended knee and did not return. When it rains it pours for Minnesota and right now we're approaching hurricane force winds and rain. Luckily it's sounding as though Ricky Rubio will debut on Saturday vs. the Mavericks. A bit of sunshine during our natural disaster.
Let's take a look at tonight's key players for each squad...
HOT: The TWolves got big offensive nights from Pekovic (31), Kirilenko (21), Ridnour (15), Love (14), Shved (13) and Barea (12). The Wolves also did so with great efficiency (well most of them...ahem...Kevin....) shooting 53.4% from the field. For the Hornets, they also scored 102 points as a team and shot 53.8% from the field, clearly they got some great offensive production as well. Austin Rivers scored a career-high 27pts, Anderson w/20 and Vasquez w/15 to led the Hive.
NOT: Kevin Love. Not only did he hurt his shooting hand even more, Love struggled shooting the ball for yet another outing hitting 4 of 18 hoists on the night. Even in close layups and bunny shots couldn't find the bottom of the net.
MISC. STATS: Kirilenko's 10 field goals made and 16 field goals attempted are both new season-highs, he also tied a season-high in defensive rebounds with 9.....Pekovic set new season/career-highs in points (31) and field goals made (14) while setting a new season-high in field goals attempted (18), as well.....In Shved's first career NBA start he notched a career-high 8 assists and tied a career-high w/2 steals......Ridnour's 3 three-pointers made, 10 assists and 4 steals all tie season-highs......
Both teams shot unreal percentages from the field and from deep, it's no secret why both of these teams were able to eclipse the century mark in this game. The Wolves held a +10 on the boards, however with so many shots finding bottom there weren't a whole lot of rebounds to go around in this one (70 on the night). The Wolves did a decent job of securing the basketball (compared to some 20 turnover nights they've had thus far this season), however the Hornets did an impeccable job of converting on Minnesota's miscues, turning those 13 TO's in 21 points. There's no question that this one was decided in the battle down low though. The Wolves rocked the key besting the Hornets with a +28 on the night.
MISC. STATS: The Wolves' 47 field goals made, 53.4% from the field, 70 points in the paint and 113 total points are a all new season-highs for Minny this season.....The Wolves' 12 personal fouls is the lowest of the season......New Orleans' 53.8% shooting percentage from the field ties a season-high for a Wolves opponent......The Hornets also tied a season-low for a Wolves opponent with those 30 rebounds......
That's all for now, Minnesota returns to action tomorrow night back at the Target Center vs. the Dallas Mavericks. You can find a full gameday preview of that one before the 7pmCT tip under the 'Gameday' section on this site. Until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!