Live by the three, die by the three. Tonight the Timberwolves were livin' large on the three-ball. Minnesota connected on15 of 24 attempts from deep and shut down the Bucks with a convincing 117-96 victory in this first game of a preseason border battle.
In our gameday preview I had the Timberwolves winning--but by just 9 points (98-87), the Wolves' offense was on fire and they came away with an impressive 21-point win.
It started off slow for the Wolves, they were up two points after one quarter, but in the second, the Bucks took control early and pushed it to a double digit lead. That's when the Wolves got hot. A three by Ellington ignited a 25-7 scoring run for the Timberwolves that had them sitting on a 10-point lead through the first half.
Kevin Love of course, had his customary double-double by halftime (15-11), Beasley had 11 & Barea: 9. Things started off a little rocky, back-and-forth for the Wolves. Their defense was certainly shaky (I laughed on Twitter at halftime when a fan said it was a defensive effort that Kurt Rambis would've been proud of, sadly--true), however their shooting was scorching hot and they rode it all the way to a blowout win.
Michael Beasley & Kevin Love lead the charge with 21 points apiece, however it still surprised me that Beasley still had a lot of freedom in Adelman's new system. Often times he'd stop the ball and isolate, which isn't right--it should be all about ball movement. However, a positive, both Love & Beasley looked more committed on defense. I saw a few plays where Love was guarding Andrew Bogut and he was right up in the "grill", contesting the shot. I also saw Beasley with some help defense, something I can't ever remember seeing too much last year. Hopefully the Wolves will be a little more committed on the defensive end this year. However, allowing the Bucks to score 96--without their top scorer: Stephen Jackson...is troubling.
The Bucks were without Stephen Jackson, for reasons, I'm unsure of. However newly acquired guard-forward: Mike Dunleavy took his place and was surprisingly, as the announcers dubbed it--'in midseason form".
Let's take a look at some team stats...
Clearly the Timberwolves dominated from beyond the arc, with almost everyone getting involved. However, the problem areas still stick out, quite noticeably. Team turnovers: 14. You can win games if you give the ball up, it's certainly down from some of last year's eye-popping numbers, however, if the Wolves want to win games, they need to take care of the ball.
The Wolves did a lot right though too. They had a +12 on the boards, they shot a high percentage from the floor overall and knocked down free throws.
Let's take a look at some of the key players' stats for each squad tonight...
Kevin Love: 21pts, 15rebs, 3ast, 1blk, 8-13FG, 4-7 from 3 in just 27 minutes
Michael Beasley: 21pts, 6rebs, 3ast, 1blk, 7-14FG, 6-8FT in just 27 minutes
J.J. Barea: 14pts, 3rebs, 6ast in 26 minutes off the bench
Derrick Williams: 14pts, 2rebs, 5-8FG, 3-4 from 3 in 21 minutes off the bench
Ricky Rubio: 6pts, 6rebs, 7ast. 2stls in 24 minutes off the bench (also just 1 turnover)
Mike Dunleavy: 16pts, 3rebs, 5ast, 1blk, 6-12FG, 3-6 from 3 in 26 minutes
Jon Leuer: 18pts, 5rebs, 1ast, 6-11FG, 6-7FT in 22 minutes off the bench
Kevin Love & Michael Beasley tore it up tonight and they were both able to do it in just 27 minutes. Everyone on the roster got a chance to get out on the court...some more than others. The Wolves started with last year's starting lineup: Ridnour/Johnson/Beasley/Love/Darko. Darko played 19 minutes & Ridnour had 18--both had solid games. Ridnour with 9pts on 4-of-6 shooting & Darko with 5pts, 4rebs and 3 blocks. Wesley Johnson certainly had an off-night. He ultimately, just kind of, looked lost out there. He finished with 5pts, 8rebs and 2ast on 1-of-6 shooting in 30 minutes. As of right now, Wes is really the only option at shooting guard.
Off the bench for the Wolves came J.J., Ricky & D-Will who all had impressive debuts as Timberwolves. Anthony Tolliver as per usual was Mr. Hustle off the bench--it's always a joy to watch him go to work. Most notably, when talking about the Timberrwolves' bench was the minutes of Anthony Randolph. Randolph played just 4 minutes, had 4pts and rebound on 0-3 from the field, 4-4 from the line. Definitely a surprise to see him buried at the end of the bench, however, with his short time in New York--it's nothing new for him. Certainly a situation to keep an eye on, going forward (though it is the preseason, so don't look into it too much)--splitting minutes between Love, D-Will, Tolliver & Randolph is no easy task... Malcolm Lee & Bonzi Wells also made their debuts as Wolves. Bonzi played 9 minutes as was quite unimpressive. He had just 1 point on 0-for-3 shooting from the field as well as 3 fouls, a turnover and a steal. Lee played just 4 minutes during the "garbage time" of the fourth quarter, adding a three pointer, a rebound and a steal.
One thing is for certain, the play of Ricky Rubio was exciting. In limited minutes he had big numbers and I witnessed some great passes. You know, the kind that make ya go: AHHH! :) He was a lot of fun to watch, it won't be long till he works himself into the starting lineup.
OTHER NOTES: Ricky Rubio twisted his ankle during the first half and briefly left the court to get the ankle re-taped, he returned and appeared to play just fine in the second half....I was definitely wrong on the starting lineups for both teams, however Rick Adelman says that he plans on changing the starting lineup for Wednesday's preseason game as well....The Target Center saw an attendance of 15,013 which is the highest for a TWolves preseason game since 1999 and the 6th largest preseason crowd in TWolves history....Both Rick Adelman & Ricky Rubio say they liked the pairing of Rubio & Barea in the backcourt that the Wolves used quite a bit tonight....Kevin Love will sound the Gjallarhorn for the Vikings prior to tomorrow's game vs. the Saints......
That's all for now, thanks for reading and remember to check back daily for all your Timberwolves news, information & updates all year round under the News & Rumors section. Also, check back soon to our media section that we'll be updating with pictures & videos from tonight's game. Our next gameday preview will be coming early next week as the Wolves will travel to Milwaukee for the last preseason game before the season starts the following weekend. GOWOLVESGO!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!