The Wolves may be insanely undermanned and completely decimated by injuries, but there's simply no quit in these Minnesota Timberwolves.
Down to just nine guys and playing in the second game of a back-to-back I was prepared for a blowout. Granted you could consider a 16-point win a blowout, this one was close for about 3.5 quarters.
Despite any lead the Pacers built, the Wolves would seemingly find a way to get themselves back into the game. No lead was safe tonight as the Pacers built many, only to have the Wolves rattle off a big run and make it a single digit game.
With about 10 minutes to play in the fourth quarter, the Wolves battled back to within six points, but that's as close as they'd get for the remainder of this one as the Pacers closed this one out for the easy W.
A big part of the late falter was simply fatigue. With just nine players and playing the night before, these guys were understandably tired and the Pacers used that to their advantage.
That wasn't the only thing they used to their advantage. A big determining factor in this one was the size of Indiana's frontcourt. 6'10" Paul George, 6'9" David West & 7'2" Roy Hibbert had their way with 6'7" Mickael Gelabale, 6'8" Derrick Williams & 6'11" Greg Stiemsma down low. Roy Hibbert had his best game of the season as the Wolves simply had no one to match up with him defensively. The entire game all I could think was how different it would be with Nikola Pekovic down low. I highly doubt that Hibbert would've finished with 27 & 12. He may be 7'2", but he'd certainly get bullied down low by Nik.
This is the last time this season the Wolves face the Pacers. They finished the season series 1-1.
Let's take a look at some of tonight's top performers...
Ricky Rubio followed up his 21-13-12 night with another 21-point night to go along with 6 & 10. He's undoubtedly the Wolves' best healthy player and is relied upon for the majority of what the Wolves do on both ends of the floor, currently. Ridnour had a decent offensive night. He hit a number of mid-range shots and floaters en-route to his 17-point night. Greg Stiemsma didn't really have a great night, but it was a good night in terms of what Greg has done this season. His 13 points ties a career-high, but he also took a career-high 13 attempts to get those, obviously not an efficient night for the Wolves starting center. His four offensive rebounds ties a season-high, his nine total rebounds ties a career-high and he finished with 35 minutes on the night--a new career-high.
As I said before the Pacers had little struggle going inside and often all night long. Paul George had 17 points on the night (his season average), but he was limited to just 27 minutes thanks to foul trouble that plagued him all night long. Derrick Williams & Dante Cunningham couldn't stop West, while Stiemsma & Johnson had no chance vs. Hibbert (both finished with 5 fouls on the night).
Obviously, without Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic & Andrei Kirilenko, the Pacers had little trouble scoring in the paint. Roy Hibbert & David West had their way in the paint and outscored the Wolves by a +28 in points in the paint. Add onto that the +13 rebound advantage as well as shooting higher percentages from the field and from deep, it's not terribly difficult to find key stats for a Pacers win in this one.
The Wolves will be back in action on Friday night in Houston when they take on the Rockets. Stay tuned for the preview of that one, until then thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!