The Minnesota Timberwolves were able to hand the Dallas Mavericks their first home loss of the season behind some great play from Nikola Pekovic, Andrei Kirilenko, Alexey Shved, Luke Ridnour and Dante Cunningham.
The Timberwolves are without five of their players: Kevin Love (hand), Ricky Rubio (knee), J.J. Barea (foot), Chase Budinger (knee) and Brandon Roy (knee). That's three players (Love, Rubio & Roy) that are starters and two of the best reserves on the roster. BUT WAIT! It doesn't stop there! With around two minutes left in the third quarter as Pek jogged down the court, it appeared he stepped wrong and sprained his ankle. He said he was okay after the game, but I guess we'll know for sure come Wednesday.
The Mavericks were also without two of their best players: Dirk Nowtizki (knee) and Shawn Marion (knee).
In the gameday preview we noted that it was likely Chris Kaman would start at center--to better match up with Nikola Pekovic. That wasn't the case, Brandan Wright started at center (technically) though Elton Brand began the game matched up vs. Pek. That didn't seem to do much good though as Pek poured in 20 pts in just 28 minutes (not playing at all in the fourth quarter).
The TWolves move to 5-2 on the season and continue their improbable stretch of competitive play, despite being shockingly shorthanded.
Let's take a look at the top performers from tonight's game...
Beyond the five players mentioned the Minnesota Timberwolves got just 9pts from the other five on the roster [Lee (4), Williams (4), Conroy (1)]. Great play from those five guys. Scoring, crashing the boards. Looking at the stats, Kirilenko had another great all-around game BUT Luke Ridnour probably had the best stat line on the night: 15pts, 8reb, 7ast, 4stls. When you get play like this from your top (healthy) players, you'll have an excellent chance for the W.
The Mavericks got some solid play from their young backcourt, but no one else could seem to contribute much. Kaman added 12pts off the bench, but shot just 5-for-15 from the field as well as 7pts from Dahntay Jones. 82 points is the second-lowest team scoring thus far (in this young season--the lowest being 80 in that first game vs. Sacramento).
Let's take a look at the team stats...
The TWolves shot higher percentages in every shooting category, out-rebounded Dallas by a +14, had more assists, steals, blocks, and points in the paint. The Mavericks were able to force 18 turnovers, for 18 points, however that was basically wiped away by their poor shooting percentage and getting hammered on the glass.
That's all for now, the TWolves are back in action on Wednesday vs. the Charlotte Bobcats. A full gameday preview of that can be found on this site tomorrow evening. Until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!