The Minnesota Timberwolves moved to 7-4 on the year tonight with an easy win over the Boston Celtics. It was early in December before the Wolves were able to secure their seventh win of the season.
The Timberwolves were led by 23 points from Kevin Love, 20 apiece from both Nikola Peković & Kevin Martin.
Minnesota was able to build a 43-26 lead in the second quarter, but the Celtics ended the first half on a 24-12 run that left the Wolves up 55-50 at halftime. Martin & Pek both scored 10 points apiece in the third quarter and Love added another 8 as the Timberwolves outscored the Celtics 34-20 in the third to take a 19-point lead.
Despite a scare in the second quarter that made this a close game, the Wolves were in control for the majority of this one and took advantage of a Celtics squad that is lacking talent. They have some players with potential and others that can do a few good things on the court, but they lack cohesiveness--these players just don't seem to fit together to put a winning basketball team on the court. Rondo's return will help some, but a lot of what has made him great in his NBA career has been playing with very talented players (KG, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, etc). This Celtics team will win some games this season and take some teams to the edge (ie: beating Miami earlier this week on a Jeff Green buzzer beater), but they are definitely bound for the lottery.
One storyline heading into tonight was Derrick Williams. Williams was a DNP-CD (did not play-coach's decision) in Denver last night and tonight he didn't play until the final three minutes of the game, in garbage time, when the game was no longer in doubt. Prior to tonight's game he sent out this tweet...
He's also been vocal earlier in the season stating that he isn't going to be patient this season as he's been patient for his entire NBA career (this was asked after his first DNP-CD). I definitely don't agree with that considering that he was handed the starting power forward job last season and he squandered that opportunity nightly with his inconsistent play. Williams has done nothing to give the coaches in Minnesota any faith in him being able to contribute effectively to this squad on a consistent basis. Hence the reason he's not playing and is buried on the end of the bench. Tonight he was at the very end of the bench seated next to Chase Budinger (in his suit).
For those asking why Dante Cunningham is getting more playing time--it's because he's reliable and he plays within himself. Dante knows what he's good at and he sticks to it--he gives 100% on both ends of the court night in and night out. Dante is cut from the same cloth that Corey Brewer, Anthony Tolliver and Ronny Turiaf are--high energy players that leave it all on the floor. Too often Williams looks complacent and disinterested on the court.
I apologize for the rant, but it bugs me when fans ask why Derrick isn't playing and when Williams is dumb enough to send out a tweet like that--regardless of whether or not he was referring to the team that's how 90% of the people reading it are going to take it and he's got to know that. I understand he's struggling to find his niche on this team and in the NBA, but he's got to remain professional. Maybe I'm overreacting, but I've lost a bit of respect for Derrick this season.
I apologize for the rant...back to the Celtics recap. Let's take a look at tonight's box score...
Nikola Peković definitely had his best game of the season. He scored 20 (or more) points for just the second time this season tonight. He also finished with his fourth double-double of the season and a new season-high in offensive rebounds with 8 (one off from tying his career-high) and tied his season-high in total rebounds with 12. Pek also didn't commit a single turnover or foul and after not getting to the line in the past two games, Pek went attempted 5 free throws in tonight's contest.
The bench seems to be coming around. J.J. did score 13 points but took 15 shots to do so. He did contribute a few assists and ultimately finished with a +13. Dante Cunningham had a heck of a game. He tied a season-high in points with 12 (set just last night in Denver) while also adding 4 rebounds, tied a season-high with 3 assists, blocked one shot and set a new career-high with 5 steals! Part of the bench success should also be attributed to Rick playing the Alexey Shved & Derrick Williams less--two players that have struggled mightily this season. Less time for them has given Robbie Hummel more of an opportunity and he's definitely seized it. Robbie knocked down a couple three-pointers while also grabbing a season-high five rebounds and registering his first NBA block.
Rubio struggled to find his shot for the second night in a row, but it's clear that the Wolves don't need A LOT of scoring from him to win basketball games. Of course it would be nice if he could find his shot and contribute 7-10 points a night, but his value on defense and playmaking makes him indispensable on this team.
Kevin Love seemed to struggle a bit tonight, he looked frustrated more than once out on the court and a lot of that seemed to stem from him not getting foul calls--shades of what we've seen from him in seasons past where he walks up the court as the other team races down on offense as he pleads to the refs for a call. His 7 turnovers are a season-high, but he still finished with a 23 & 12 while hitting 44% of his attempts. All but two of his misses tonight came inside three-point line!
The Celtics got 27 points from Avery Bradley, however the Wolves were able to hold Boston's leading scorer (Jeff Green) to just two points. Green's two points came on a pair of free throws in the first half and he finished the night 0-for-6 from the field with 4 turnovers. He came into the game averaging over 18 points a night!
The Wolves have the next couple days off, they won't play again until Tuesday night in Washington vs. the Wizards. We'll have a gameday preview of that one up by Monday evening, until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!