The Minnesota Timberwolves became just the third team in history to lose to an international team on their home court in an exhibition game. Minnesota is also just the second team to lose in the United States (one of the three was vs. the Raptors in Toronto).
The Timberwolves looked lethargic with tired legs to start this one as Moscow jumped out to an early lead that ballooned to an 18-point deficit in the second quarter.
The Wolves shot just 27.3% from the field (6-22) in the first quarter, compared to CSKA's 52.6% (10-16). They had a lot of easy looks and gimmes that just wouldn't drop. The Wolves missed seven-straight field goals to begin this one, before Rubio was finally able to drop home a contested lay-in.
The starters came out of the game after the first eight minutes. Adelman said prior to the game that he wouldn't bring his starters (Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love, Peković) back into the game until the beginning of the second half. However, that quickly changed as this one got out of hand in a hurry and (as stated before) the deficit increased to 18.
Thanks in large part to Martin, Brewer, Love & Peković, the Wolves were able to pull within 3 points (50-53) at halftime. Martin & Peković both had 6 points in the second quarter and Love, Brewer & Williams all added 5 points apiece, to outscore CSKA 33-28.
The starters played for roughly the first nine minutes of the third quarter and then headed to the bench, where they would sit for the remainder of the game.
This is where Adelman gave guys like A.J. Price, Othyus Jeffers, Alexey Shved, Derrick Williams and Ronny Turiaf a chance to play. Little did we know that when they entered the game towards the end of the third quarter, the four of them would be the lineup finishing this one. They played for the entire fourth quarter and all but the final few seconds of overtime (when Adelman subbed in Hummel for Turiaf and then seconds later, Turiaf for Jeffers).
We got a good look at two players (Price & Jeffers) who are in the battle for that 15th roster spot (along with Hummel and Brown). They certainly made the most of their opportunities. Price showed he is very capable of running a team from the point guard position and is definitely further along offensively than I would have imagined (I didn't really watch much of him last season in Washington). Jeffers showed that motor and defensive intensity that tantalizes Minnesota's front office and coaching staff alike.
The Timberwolves had a chance to win this in regulation, but Williams missed a contested shot at the hoop as time expired. The Timberwolves had a chance to send this one into a second overtime, but Shved missed a contested shot at the hoop and Jeffers secured an offensive board, but missed the heavily contested put-back to end this one.
The Timberwolves got off to a VERY bad start (27.3%) from the field in the first quarter as well as 16.7% from deep (1-of-6). Those numbers from the field improved as we went on in this one. Despite the Wolves playing the "Bruise Brothers" (Love & Pek) 28 & 26 minutes apiece, they both finished with 7 rebounds each (and MIN was led by Williams' 9 & Turiaf's 8) and Minnesota was still out-rebounded by CSKA Moscow. The biggest surprise for me was the turnover count. Despite playing a number of different guys and down the stretch (the team was run by Shved & Price for the majority of the second half and OT), they finished a 53-minute contest with just 11 turnovers.
Moscow has played in nine preseason games already and it showed as they looked like the more cohesive unit throughout. They shot very well and despite finishing with a high team foul and turnover count, they were able to eek out a win over Minny.
Williams was very aggressive in this one and it was REALLY good to see. I wouldn't get too high on this performance though, Williams' NBA career has been all about inconsistency and until he's able to string solid performances together, there's not enough to get excited about. However, he did look quite slimmed down as I said he was VERY aggressive and he was finally asserting himself on the court (let's hope that's not because he wasn't going against an NBA team and mentality believed that he was better than the other team--which is the mindset he needs every night).
Martin looked terrific on O. Maybe a small part of it was because Minnesota hasn't had a decent shooting guard since Sprewell, but it was a joy to see him go to work with his repertoire: floaters in the lane, step-back fadeaways, three-pointers and aggressive drives to the rack, while also getting to the line at will.
Who Else I Liked...
--Ronny Turiaf's energy and defense. I wasn't sold on the move that brought him here this summer, but in a small sample size, I already like what I see and I know he's going to be a big part of this team's success both on the court (and maybe more importantly) in the locker room.
--Corey Brewer looked terrific on the fast break with a number of passes from Rubio and more than half court outlet passes from K-Love off a defensive board, that finished more than once with an easy layup. His defense and the corner-three he nailed, were also VERY good to see. Like Turiaf, his energy and defense will be key to a lot of Minnesota W's this year.
--"Bruise Brothers" I just loved seeing Love & Pek take the floor together. It's been too long that both those guys have had clean bills of health and I can't wait for them to do some serious damage this season. Love played some solid defense on former NBA center Nenad Krstic in this one, too. In two consecutive possessions, Love stripped the ball/forced a turnover and came up with the ball while covering Krstic.
Who We Didn't See Tonight...
--Chase Budinger (knee): Didn't see him tonight and may not see him till November/December.
--J.J. Barea (personal): Wasn't with the team for a "personal reason", but it sounded as though it isn't a situation that'll keep him out for an extended period of time.
--Dante Cunningham (flu-like symptoms): Despite seeming in good health in warmups, because Dante hadn't practiced the day before, he was held out of this one, he should be good to go on Wednesday vs. Toronto.
--Lorenzo Brown, Chris Johnson, Gorgui Dieng (Coach's Decision): Adelman didn't play them, but there's a VERY good chance we'll see them all sometime during these next two games.
Who We Saw in Limited Minutes...
--Shabazz Muhammad: played just 6 minutes, but managed 0-2 FG/3PT, 1 turnover and 3 fouls.
--Robbie Hummel: also played just 6 minutes and hit a couple of shots (a deep two and a three-pointer). Robbie finished with 5 points on 2-3 FG (1-2 3PT).
That's all I've got for now, the Wolves will be back in action on Wednesday evening vs. the Raptors in Toronto, Canada. That one will tip at 6pm and we'll have the full gameday recap following the final horn, thanks for reading and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!