The Minnesota Timberwolves got off to a very hot start, which (this season) seems to guarantee a letdown in the second half. Such was the case in tonight's 94-87 victory.
The TWolves scored 35 points in the opening quarter, however the final quarter was a completely different story. The Wolves made just one field goal in the fourth (the first they attempted via Pekovic) and then went 0-for-11 down the stretch. Thankfully they got 16 points at the line (going 16-for-22 from the line in the fourth). To close out an equally poor shooting 76ers squad.
Minnesota scored 35 in the first quarter and that was thanks in large part to their dominance down low. Derrick Williams scored 10 of his 17 in the first, while Pekovic added 9 of his 27. The Sixers countered with 8 apiece from both Jrue Holiday & Dorrell Wright. Minnesota went 13-for-22 from the field (59.1%) while Philly went 10-for-20 (50%). The Wolves also out-rebounded the Sixers 12-6 and forced them into four turnovers (3 of which came in the first few minutes of play).
The second quarter was much the same for the Wolves. Their field goal percentage dropped slightly (to 51.2%) for the game at halftime, however they outscored the Sixers 21-16 to take a 15-point lead (56-41) at the half. Shved scored all six of his points in that second quarter, while Pekovic added another 5 to give him 14 at the half. Nikola also added 11 rebounds at halftime to give him his 20th double-double on the year (as well as the 37th of his career). The Wolves played a little loose with the basketball in the second quarter as they were forced into 6 second quarter turnovers. They countered that by grabbing another 18 rebounds, while holding Philly to just 9 in the quarter (MIN out-rebounded PHI 30-15 in the first half). The Wolves also added 14 of their 34 paint points in that second quarter.
The third quarter was when the 'wheels began to wobble'. Pekovic continued to dominate scoring another 8 in the quarter (to give him 22 through three quarters). Both AK & DWill added 5 each. The Sixers outscored the Wolves 26-20 in the third quarter to cut the lead to just 9 after three and that was thanks in large part to Evan Turner. Turner scored 14 of his 17 points in the third quarter as he simply hit everything he threw at the rim.
Then came the fourth quarter. I will be honest, with the lead (once at 19 points) at just 9, I assumed we had another opponent comeback in the works that would result in yet another extremely disappointing loss. Unfortunately, the Wolves played so poor that the should've been left with their 32nd loss. Fortunately the Sixers (somehow) played even worse and the Wolves escaped with a 7-point win, despite giving Philly numerous chances to pull ahead for the W in this one. As Jim Pete put it: It seemed like neither team wanted to win this game tonight.
With this game, the Wolves have their 20th win of the season and as much as I'd like to say this could be a stepping stone for future success in the second half of the season, I don't think you can/should build off tonight's performance.
The Wolves were led by a dominating performance from Nikola Pekovic. Pek finished with 27pts, 18reb, 1stl & 2blks. His 18 rebounds ties a season/career-high. He also shot 9-for-16 from the field and 9-for-15 from the line. His 15 free throw attempts is a new season/career-high. He also played a game-high 41 minutes. The rest of the frontcourt also performed very well in this one. Derrick Williams added 17pts, 8reb, 1ast & 1st; while shooting 7-of-12 from the field, 2-4 from deep and 1-2 at the line. Andrei Kirilenko came back following his five-game absence (thanks to a quad strain). It goes without saying that the Wolves are incredibly glad to have him back. AK finished with 15pts, 5reb, 5ast, 2stls & 3blks in 37 minutes. He shot 4-of-8 from the field and a perfect 1-1 from deep and 6-6 from the line.
The Sixers were led by Evan Turner. Amid trade speculation/rumors, Turner had that big third quarter and finished with 17pts, 6reb, 2ast, 2stls & 1blk. He didn't shoot the ball very efficiently, however going 6-16 from the field. Jrue Holiday had a solid all-around game, but foul trouble limited him all evening. Holiday finished with 16pts, 3reb, 5ast & 5stls, but he also struggled shooting the ball finishing 7-17 from the field, 0-1 from deep and 2-4 from the line. The 76ers bench scored 31 on the night and were led by former Wolf Damien Wilkins. Wilkins played 26 minutes off the bench and had 13pts, 3reb and 2ast.
Some notes from tonight's game...
The Timberwolves will be back in action on Friday night when they travel to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder who are fresh off a loss to James Harden and the Houston Rockets (tonight). Stay tuned tomorrow for any potential TWolves rumors, trades, etc. The Deadline is set for tomorrow at 2pmCT and there's a chance the Wolves could be dealing. Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!