The Timberwolves lost their big man Nikola Peković to an achilles strain just six minutes into tonight's game, the Bulls were even more short-handed as they dropped this one to Minnesota.
The Bulls were without Derrick Rose as he recovers from another season-ending knee injury; Kirk Hinrich sat out with a hamstring injury; Luol Deng was traded to the Cavaliers earlier this month; and Joakim Noah had to sit this one out with an illness.
The Bulls went with D.J. Augustin, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson as their starting five to match up with Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love & Peković. With Pek leaving this one early, Ronny Turiaf & Gorgui Dieng saw a big bump in minutes.
There are few games that I watch where I feel as though the Wolves have the game 'in the bag'. With the Bulls being so short-handed and without so many of their best players, it seemed as though there was little doubt that we'd walk away victorious. Even in the late stages of the fourth quarter when the Bulls cut a double digit lead to a two possession game; it still left little doubt that we'd be able to execute down the stretch and win this one.
That was most certainly the case and the Wolves earned a big win over a team they had to beat. With this win over the Bulls, the Wolves ended their four-game road trip (Utah, Golden State, Portland and Chicago) with a 3-1 record. They're certainly beginning to build some much needed momentum. The next big test will come on Wednesday night when the Wolves host the Pelicans at the Target Center. The Wolves are 0-10 in games since the end of November in which they've had an opportunity to go over .500. They'll have a chance to rectify that on Wednesday.
Let's take a look at tonight's box score...
The Wolves got a great performance from reserve center Ronny Turiaf. With Pek limited to just six minutes, Ronny delivered with his best game of the year. Ronny finished with season-highs in points (14), field goals made (6), field goals attempted (7), free throws made (2), blocks (3) and minutes played (32). He also tied a season-high with those 4 offensive rebounds. If Pek is forced to miss time with this achilles injury the Wolves are going to need some good production like this from Turiaf.
Kevin Love finished with his 11th 30-point game of the season as he made a season-high 14 free throws.
In addition to big games from Love & Turiaf. Budinger had his best game of the season since his return from that knee injury. Bud scored a season-high 12 points and this was the first game this season in which he's hit multiple three-pointers. Somewhat ironic it came against the Bulls at the United Center as this was the location in which he tore up his knee initially--last season.
With no Nikola Peković the Wolves got beat on the boards and finished with a season-low 5 offensive rebounds. Love had an uncharacteristic 8 rebound game. The Bulls big men had the high-rebound numbers with 14 from Boozer & 10 from Gibson.
The Wolves are back to .500 at 22-22 on the year. Minnesota is back in action on Wednesday night vs. the Pelicans, that one will tip at 7pmCST from the Target Center.
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!