Tonight, was the antithesis of the loss to the Spurs. The Wolves were up against an undermanned Grizzlies squad that was already without Marc Gasol and Quincy Pondexter, but then lost Mike Conley in that final period. Despite Memphis' bigs Jon Leuer and Zach Randolph playing very well, they simply couldn't overcome K-Love, J.J. Barea and Nikola Peković.
Pek scored Minnesota's six final points that sealed the 101-93 win, the final coming following a defensive stop and J.J. finding him in the paint with 26.3 seconds to play.
Tonight's game also snaps an 11-game losing streak to the Memphis Grizzlies dating back to February 2010.
In the gameday preview I gave J.J. all kinds of hell about how unproductive and terrible he's been this season. As such, he had one of his best games of the season. Barea was a perfect 3-for-3 from the field and 2-for-2 from deep after the first half. He ultimately finished shooting 50% (5-10) FG & 3-5 (60%) 3PT for 15 points along with a team-high 5 assists and 2 steals. This is J.J.'s 7th double-digit scoring game of the season and second only to the 21 he scored vs. the Denver Nuggets exactly one month ago (11/15). We can only hope that he can build off of that, but I've said that too many times to count this season.
Kevin Martin had another terrible outing. He laid a goose egg in the scoring column, put up just 3 shots and played just 19 minutes. Adelman said after the game that he was "hurting" and asked to come out in the second half and Adelman ultimately decided not to put him back in the game with another game tomorrow in Boston. They showed him a couple times on the bench and he looked quite miserable! It remains to be seen whether or not he'll play tomorrow or if he has any type of injury/illness.
The Memphis Grizzlies were in the Western Conference Finals just this past spring, but injuries have derailed their season, much like they did in Minnesota a season ago. The Grizz are without Gasol and with Conley hurting his knee in the fourth quarter tonight, it could be a "lottery" season in Memphis.
The player I was most impressed with who was not wearing a Timberwolves uniform tonight was big man Jon Leuer. I had heard that he was having a good season, but tonight was my first time watching him this year and I was definitely impressed. It makes me a little more upset that the Wolves didn't get him when the Bucks waived him last season. Leuer finished with 15 points & 9 rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench. As much as I was intrigued with Leuer, I was surprised that (despite the injury to Gasol and Randolph's foul trouble) Ed Davis played just 7 minutes off the bench!
Here's a look at tonight's box score...
The Wolves finally held an opponent under 50% and what was the result? A win! The Timberwolves have played in nine games this season in which they've allowed their opponent to shoot 50% or better. They're 1-8 in those games with the lone win coming against the Sixers earlier this week. Alternatively, when the Wolves hold an opponent under 50% they're 11-4. When the Wolves hold an opponent under 45% they're a perfect 7-0 including tonight's win. Unfortunately, before tonight the last time the Wolves held an opponent under 45% was on November 22nd in that blowout 111-81 win over Brooklyn (39.7%).
As much as I hope J.J. can string some decent games together, I pray the Timberwolves can put together a stretch of games in which they play some decent defense, because without it the Wolves have almost no chance to win.
The Timberwolves will be back in action tomorrow night vs. the Celtics in Boston. We'll have a full gameday preview up before the 6:30pmCST tip, until then thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!