No Kevin Martin, no problem...at least tonight! The Wolves were without their second-leading scorer as he is battling flu-like symptoms. He was reportedly receiving treatment/fluids before 9am this morning.
Martin was unable to go, so Adelman moved Corey Brewer to the shooting guard and gave rookie Robbie Hummel the first start of his NBA career. Hummel played 28 minutes (all of which came in the first three quarters) and he finished with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting and he hit two three-pointers in the first quarter--also adding 4 rebounds, 1 assist and no turnovers!
It was good to see Hummel out there and the fact that he played well made it even better. Hummel will should benefit from this start and when Martin does return, Adelman should have more faith in him with that second unit.
The Wolves were looking to avenge a loss suffered to this same squad about a week-and-a-half ago when the Wolves had a chance to win on a last second Kevin Love buzzer beater, that couldn't find bottom as time expired and the Wolves lost by one point. Tonight the Wolves sprinted out to an incredibly fast start and never really let it get close throughout. Minnesota were up by 14 after one quarter (38-24) and by halftime the Wolves had scored the most they have this season in one half as they led the Cavaliers 70-47.
Ricky Rubio had 10 points & 8 assists after one quarter and by halftime he had his double-double. A big reason for Minnesota's fast start and sustained offensive attack was the play from Corey Brewer. Corey certainly took on a scorers role in this one and he looked quite comfortable out there--granted it isn't something we can expect every night, but he has been consistently good and if he gives these occasional outbursts to boot--obviously, all the better for Minnesota.
At halftime the Wolves were shooting 62.5% from the field, 60% from deep and 93.3% from the line. Kevin Love had 19 points at halftime which is two more points than he had in fourth quarters the last time the Wolves played the Cavs. The Wolves also held a 25-12 advantage on the boards, had 15 assists to Cleveland's 7, forced 7 turnovers for a whopping 16 points (averaged more than two points on those turnovers!!), were outscoring the Cavs 22-0 on the fast break and 34-12 in the paint.
A couple minutes into the third quarter it was clear that the Cavaliers had given up. Adelman kept parts of his starting lineup out there (Love, Rubio, Brewer) as they tallied another 38 points in the third. All the starters were pulled by the final minute of the third quarter and they didn't see the floor again. The Wolves led 108-76 after three quarters.
Both coaches emptied their benches for the fourth quarter. That gave the deep bench guys some run. Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng and A.J. Price all saw extended minutes. Alexey Shved didn't see the court until that final quarter as Adelman made it clear that he had played himself out of playing time--that was made clear by starting Hummel.
Let's take a look at tonight's box score...
The Timberwolves got more production from their bench, but it wasn't much more considering how much more time the reserves saw. J.J. Barea only played 14 minutes, but he hit all his shots--one mid-range jumper and two layups--while also adding 7 assists. Just a couple nights ago he posted a -12 and tonight he finished with a +16. Derrick Williams also looked good, he hit his second three-pointer of the season and was a bit more aggressive on the boards. All in all, it was good, but the team still needs more from these guys.
The Wolves finished with just 9 turnovers (new season-low) that the Cavs turned into just one basket. The Wolves also set new season-highs in field goals made, field goal percentage, three-pointers made, three-point percentage, defensive rebounds, assists, points in the paint and their 124 points is the most they've scored this season.
Corey Brewer had his best night thus far as he finished with a season-high 27 points, which is just two points shy of tying his career-high. When Brewer first joined the team, I looked up some highlights and one of the videos I watched was his career-high game against the Sixers on March 21, 2013. He hit a number of threes, got into the lane for easy buckets and every thing he threw at the rim went down. It felt like I was watching that video tonight with Brewer. He went a perfect 5-of-5 from deep and was instrumental in building that big first half lead.
I thought this Cavaliers team was going to be really good this season, but after seeing them twice, I'm not so sure. They could still make the playoffs--considering they're playing in the weaker Eastern Conference, but I don't see Kyrie Irving and a "Shell-Of-His-Former-Self" Andrew Bynum leading the team back to the postseason this year. They're a decent defensive team (they weren't tonight), but they definitely lack a versatile scoring attack.
The Timberwolves move to 6-3 on the year and won't play again until Friday night when they'll take on the Nuggets in Denver. That will be a nationally televised game on ESPN, stay tuned for the preview, until then thanks for reading and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!