The Timberwolves definitely took their opponent for granted and simply ran through the motions on both ends through the majority of tonight's contest.
Kevin Martin turned in a terrific third quarter and Love bounced back from a mediocre first half to propel the Wolves to a must-win against the NBA's worst team.
The Bucks are now 13-51 and 2-23 vs. the Western Conference and well on their way to a Top 3 pick in this summer's draft.
The Wolves on the other hand are battling against the odds to try and make the playoffs for the first time in a decade. Tonight's win was their 32nd of the season and the most wins in a year since the KG-era. At 32-31 the Wolves sit 5 games behind the 8th seed Memphis Grizzlies and 4 games behind the 9th place Phoenix Suns.
The Wolves allowed the Bucks to get off to the best start the NBA has seen this season. Milwaukee went 12-for-12 from the field which is the most consecutive makes to start a game this season (previously 11-for-11 by Philadelphia).
Following the 12-for-12 start, the Bucks finished the remainder of the game 27-for-62 (43.5%).
Minnesota certainly realized they were going up against an inferior squad lacking of high-level NBA talent and as such they definitely didn't play 100% for 48 minutes.
With that being said, the Bucks are a young team that's going to have a high draft pick in the upcoming draft in addition to a number of solid young players with a lot of potential: (MN native) Nate Wolters, Brandon Knight, Khris Middleton, John Henson & Giannis Antetokounmpo. It may take a couple of years, but the Bucks have a decent foundation to build this squad.
At halftime the Bucks led 61-55. Milwaukee shot 59% from the field in the first half and had just 5 turnovers. That didn't last however, the Bucks turned the ball over 10 times over the final two quarters and in all, those 15 turnovers led to 30 TWolves points.
The Wolves got the win over the Bucks back on December 28th by forcing Milwaukee to turn the ball over leading to easy opportunities on offense, such was the case in the second half of tonight's contest.
Tonight's box score...
Kevin Love had just 9 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist & 1 block in the first half, but got things going in the second half. He scored 8 of his 27 points in the third quarter and added another 10 in the fourth to finish with 27 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and a season-high-tying 3 blocks in 42 minutes.
After playing 33 minutes against the Raptors on Sunday and sitting out Monday's practice (simply as a precaution after playing a lot of minutes despite being on that 20-minute limit). Pek played 23 minutes and finished with 14 points & 8 rebounds. With no Ersan Ilyasova (ankle) for the Bucks tonight, they moved John Henson to power forward and started Zaza Pachulia at center to combat Pek in the paint, it did little good as Pek got any shot he wanted.
Kevin Martin was a big part of Minnesota's 31-point quarter where he scored 12 of his 26 points. He scored 26 points on 50% shooting in 31 minutes. He's been a bit up-and-down since his return from the thumb injury, but he's now strung together a couple of solid offensive outings.
For every good J.J. Barea game we get about 5-6 bad J.J. Barea games. His inconsistency is maddening and his demeanor both on and off the court make him intolerable by the strong Minnesota fanbase. He had a "Good J.J." game scoring 19 points on 70% shooting along with 4 assists in 28 minutes off the bench. I watched the Bucks broadcast tonight and I heard Sidney Moncrief praise J.J. about six different times and even say, "I really like J.J. Barea's game". My only thought was, "We'll give him to you for absolutely NOTHING!"
Despite allowing the Bucks to shoot 52.7% from the field and thus grabbing a season-low 34 rebounds, the Timberwolves rode 20-point outings from "the Kevins" for the 11-point victory over Milwaukee.
The Wolves will be back in action vs. the Bobcats in Charlotte on Friday night, tipoff at 6pmCST.
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!