Kevin Love wanted to be more of a leader for this young Timberwolves, there's no doubt that his performance in the final minutes of a double-digit deficit he proved his worth. He single scored 10 straight points as part of a 12-0 run that ended the game for the Wolves, winning 84-85. Ten straight points & two clutch free throws by Michael Beasley with just nine seconds sealed a tight victory. With just over two minutes to go the Wolves were down double digits, but thanks to Love's hustle & late-game heroics, the Timberwolves boast an undefeated preseason in 2011.
The first half was the complete opposite of their game on Saturday. They came out in the first quarter and turned the ball over seven times. The Wolves were without point guards Ricky Rubio & J.J. Barea who are nursing some "minor injuries", sitting out seems to be just a precaution, so that they're ready to play the regular season opener on Monday night vs. Oklahoma City.
At halftime the TWolves' usual top scorers: Beasley & Love, had 4 & 7 points. In the absence of Rubio & Barea, rookie Lee saw some extended minutes and at halftime he had chipped in 6 points. Nikola Pekovic also had a strong first quarter (he started in place of Darko) with 4 points & 5 rebounds. Another change to the starting lineup saw Wayne Ellington in place of Wesley Johnson.
At halftime the Bucks were led by Mike Dunleavy & Drew Gooden who each had 8 points. Brandon Jennings chipped in 6, but also had 8 assists. We also saw Stephen Jackson on court for the first time in a Bucks uniform--he chipped in 7 points by halftime.
The Timberwolves outscored the Bucks 23-27. The Wolves' starting lineup got things going. Darko Milicic was plugged in to the starting lineup in place of Nikola Pekovic (I feel there has to be a reason, because I felt Nikola was playing fairly well in the first quarter--which was the only time he played all night). The TWolves were down just one point after the third quarter.
In the fourth the Timberwolves struggled early and the Bucks were able to turn a one-point lead into a double digit "one". Until of course the TWolves or rather Kevin Love, went to work and got the W.
Let's take a look at some team comparison statistics from tonight's game....
The Timberwolves certainly didn't have the kind of night from downtown as they did on Saturday, however 40% from 3-point range. As per usual the Timberwolves out-rebounded their opposition with a +7, led by Love with 16. The Timberwolves had another night struggling to hang on to the basketball. With 22 turnovers tonight, that's 8 more than they had on Saturday--again the absence of Rubio & Barea is likely a big factor in that.
A different feature in our gameday recap, we'll take a look at each player on the roster and their contribution tonight followed up by Milwaukee's key players of the game...
KEVIN LOVE: 22pts, 16rebs, 4ast, 1stl, 6-for-10 FG, 2-for-4 from 3, 8-for-9 from the line in 27 minutes.
--Flat-out, Kevin Love won this one for the Wolves tonight. Without his rebounding, three-point shooting, free-throw shooting, hustle & late-game heroics. Love gave up some chances to score early on with a number of assists. He was fresh in the fourth quarter--a big nod to his weight loss--less fatigue in the late stages of the game.
MICHAEL BEASLEY: 12pts, 2rebs, 1blk, 1stl, 4-for-13 FG, 4-for-4 from the line, in 31 minutes
--Beasley had a less than stellar game. Poor shooting from the field didn't stop him from trying to shot his way out of his slump. Of course, the two free throws he hit in the final seconds of the game, gave the Wolves the win.
LUKE RIDNOUR: 11pts, 1reb, 6ast, 2stls, 4-for-11 FG in 31 minutes
--Ridnour saw extended minutes in the absence of Ricky & J.J. He wasn't awful, but ultimately wasn't anything special. He was matched up against his former "protegee": Jennings, who made it hard on Ridnour. Forcing him into 3 of the Wolves' 22 turnovers.
MALCOLM LEE: 9pts, 4rebs, 5ast, 1stl, 3-for-6 FG, 3-for-4 from the line, 4TOs, in 24 minutes off the bench
--Like Ridnour, Lee saw a big bump in minutes tonight. On Saturday he played just a few minutes in "garbage time" of the fourth quarter. I could easily see Lee as the Wolves' starting shooting guard at some point this season. He's got the length & quickness to defend both guard positions. He had the most turnovers on the team (4), but everyone needs to work on that (Wes & Darko were the only two players to not have any turnovers).
WAYNE ELLINGTON: 8pts, 1reb, 1ast, 1blk, 3-for-8 from the field, 2-for-3 from 3 in 27 minutes
--Ellington got the nod at shooting guard for the Wolves tonight in place of Wesley Johnson. He played fairly well, I wouldn't say he'll be your starting shooting guard come Monday's opener, but he's certainly earned himself a spot on the roster. His shooting will be a boost off the bench if he can remain a consistent contributor off the bench.
WESLEY JOHNSON: 5pts, 2rebs, 1stl, 2-for-3 from the field, 1-for-1 from 3, in 12 minutes off the bench
--Will Wes be the starting 2-guard come Monday? I honestly don't know. I'm not sure Rick Adelman does either. He's a young player, but wildly inconsistent. He's playing out of position. I hope Adelman & Co. will be able to work with him more, since the Wolves invested the 4th pick in him last year. He could be a good sixth man off the bench along with Derrick Williams, but then, who starts at the 2?
NIKOLA PEKOVIC: 4pts, 5rebs, 1stl, 1-for-1 from the field, 2-for-2 from the line in 12 minutes
--I like the first quarter we saw from Pekovic tonight. If he's consistent he could snag the starting job at some point this season. I would've liked to have seen him more on the court tonight.
DERRICK WILLIAMS: 4pts, 3rebs, 1blk, 1stl, 3TOs, 2-for-4 from the field in 14 minutes off the bench
--D-Will didn't do anything special tonight. Nothing notable on either side of the ball. He's a young player who will experience his ups and downs. We didn't see as much of the Beas-Williams-Love combo tonight either...
ANTHONY RANDOLPH: 4pts, 3rebs, 3TOs, 1-for-4 from the field in 16 minutes off the bench
--Randolph received a big bump in minutes compared to Saturday's game, however, he wasn't able to do much of anything with it. I just felt bad for the big guy out there. He was hustling and trying hard, but maybe a little too hard. He'll need to perform at a much higher level if he wants to be a part of Adelman's core rotation this season.
BONZI WELLS: 2pts, 4rebs, 1ast, 1-for-4 from the field in 16 minutes
--There's a VERY good chance Bonzi won't be making the Wolves' roster after these past two preseason games. Adelman has said he can still play in this League, however his performances on the court say differently. Expect tonight to be the last time we see Wells sporting a TWolves uni.
DARKO MILICIC: 2pts, 4rebs, 2ast, 1stl, 1-for-2 from the field in 15 minutes off the bench
--I realized tonight that I don't mind Darko as the TWolves' starting center. If the Wolves decide to go the route of a Beas-Williams-Love frontcourt, it won't be a terrible thing. If Darko starts at center it wouldn't be bad either. As long as Darko stays motivated, he'll be solid as a starter or reserve.
ANTHONY TOLLIVER: 2pts, 1reb, 1blk, 1stl, 1-for-4 from the field in 16 minutes off the bench
--Mr. Hustle didn't have a great game off the bench, he didn't score the ball well or rebound. However, there were a handful of plays where Tolliver's hustle came into play, he's definitely a valuable player on this squad.
KEY PLAYERS for MIL
DREW GOODEN: 15pts, 3rebs, 1ast, 2stls, 6-for-12 from the field, 1-for-1 from 3 in 23 minutes off the bench
LUC RICHARD MBAH A MOUTE: 14pts, 4rebs, 1ast, 2blks, 3stls, 6-for-11 from the field in 25 minutes
--Mbah a Moute surprised me tonight. I didn't really know he could score the basketball. I figured he was simply a defender and nothing more!
MIKE DUNLEAVY: 13pts, 3rebs, 2ast, 5-for-10 from the field in 28 minutes
BRANDON JENNINGS: 9pts, 5rebs, 9ast, 4-for-13 from the field in 36 minutes
--Wasn't a great shooting night for Jennings, however, his 9 assists is solid (of course 8 of them came in the first half!). As I said before, Jennings needs to be a better scorer if the Bucks want to win (a little pressure is off him with the additions of Dunleavy & Jackson this offseason).
My initial projection was a 102-89 Wolves victory. The Wolves struggled from the field (especially compared to Saturday's game), but they came away with the win. They got to see some different players and guys like Malcolm Lee and Anthony Randolph saw some extended minutes. I'm excited to see more of that Rubio-Barea backcourt, we'll have to wait till Monday though.
That's all for now. Expect a gameday preview to come out sometime Saturday morning-afternoon which I'll "promote" on Twitter a number of times: Saturday, Sunday & Monday. Until then, have a Happy Holidays & get pumped for some regular season Timberwolves basketball!! Also, stay tuned for some pictures & videos from tonight's game under the media section--coming soon! GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!