The Wolves understand where their weaknesses lie after 22 games into the 2012-13 season. They understand that they're a great first half team, but then, coming out of halftime they stumble back on to the court and night after night let games slip through their grasp.
Such was the case on Monday vs. the Magic when they blew a fifteen-point lead that they held midway through the third quarter to lose by nine. Tonight, the TWolves were exchanging blows with the defending champion Miami Heat and through two quarters were exposing some HUGE weaknesses for the Heat, however another second half faceplant saw the Heat grab a twenty-point lead late in the game and despite a short little run in the fourth with Minnesota's end of the bench playing, this one was over and the Wolves would go on to lose it by eleven, 92-103.
The TWolves did do an incredible job on the boards and exposed a big weakness in Miami's infatuation with playing 'small ball' as Kevin Love & Nikola Pekovic absolutely abused Udonis Haslem & Chris Bosh in the post. At halftime the TWolves held a 28-10 advantage on the boards as well as a 23-5 advantage in second chance points. After 19 first half minutes Kevin Love already had 14 (of his 18) rebounds and Pekovic added 7 (of his 12) in 17 first half minutes. At the half, no one on the Heat squad had more than two rebounds. Bosh had just one and Udonis Haslem & Joel Anthony both contributed zero.
At some point the Minnesota Timberwolves will figure things out. Putting a healthy team out there wouldn't hurt though. The Wolves had just ten healthy players tonight as they were playing without Ricky Rubio, Brandon Roy, Josh Howard, Chase Budinger and Malcolm Lee. That meant they had just one guard coming off the bench (J.J. Barea). It's sounding as though Howard could return on Sunday, Brandon Roy sometime after Christmas and Ricky Rubio will be back on the court Thursday vs. the Thunder (he didn't play tonight as the Wolves have decided not to play him in back-to-back games this season).
Let's take a look at some of tonight's key players...
HOT: Andrei Kirilenko had a great game and he was matched up against the reigning MVP. Both turned in great games, however AK had a great game defensively as LBJ deferred to Wade in the first half. AK then switched to Wade some towards the end of the first half and in the second half. That's when Wade deferred to LeBron. AK had another great all-around game, even though this one may not show up as much in his stat line.
NOT: Kevin Love. Although Love dominated on the boards, especially in the first half (14 first half rebounds), however his poor shooting continues on and on. He went just 2-of-10 from the field and wasn't much of a factor offensively for Minnesota.
Although the Wolves held one of their most lopsided rebounding advantages of the season in this one, the Heat's 13 made threes on 52% shooting as well as forcing MIN into 20 turnovers in which they turned into 22 points was key for their 11-point victory.
If you didn't know Minnesota history this season in the second half, you'd assume it was simply the Wolves playing in a back-to-back game tonight, with just ten healthy players against one of the best teams in the NBA, but Minnesota's second half struggles have been well-documented this season. Here's hoping they figure this out soon.
That's all for now, the Wolves will be back in action on Thursday vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Target Center. Until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!