Donning their warmup shirts and the patches on their uniforms, there was little doubt that these Minnesota Timberwolves were playing for their recently deceased head coach Flip Saunders.
Flip Saunders passed away just three days ago and it has certainly been a trying time for these Wolves. Following the final horn, the emotion of Ricky Rubio & Kevin Garnett showed just that.
The Timberwolves were led by their point guard who is certainly being paid like a franchise player. Ricky Rubio scored a career-high 28 points to go along with 2 rebounds, 14 assists and 1 steal. He also turned the ball over just one time and shot 10-for-17 from the field, 2-for-4 from deep and 6-for-7 from the line in 32 minutes. Rubio was responsible for 58 of Minnesota's 112 points (the highest of his career).
Here's what Rubio had to say postgame...
Certainly an emotional night for Ricky and an emotional night for these young Wolves.
The Wolves came out of the gate firing and built an 7-point lead in the first quarter, however LA finished the opening frame on a 21-5 run to take an 11-point lead, 20-31 after 12 minutes. The one bright spot for Minnesota throughout the first quarter was their three-point shooting. The Wolves hit 4-for-8 from deep in the first quarter (including two from Rubio). Ricky played 7 minutes in the quarter and finished with 10 points & 1 assist in 7 minutes.
In the second quarter the Lakers continued to roll, however a kerfuffle between Garnett and Randle/Hibbert led to a KG technical foul that actually sparked Minnesota on both ends of the floor. The Wolves found themselves down by as many as 16 in that second quarter, but rallied to cut the deficit to 9; 51-60 at the half.
In the third quarter it was Kevin Martin drawing fouls on damn near every Timberwolves possession that got them back in this game. The Wolves shot 17 free throws in the third quarter after shooting just 11 in the entire first half. They converted 14 of those 17 attempts to continue to help decrease the deficit to just 7 points; 88-95 after three quarters. The Timberwolves bench was integral in that third quarter scoring 25 points.
Kevin Martin started the fourth quarter but was clearly gassed and had to come out. Sam Mitchell put his point guard back out there and Ricky Rubio did not disappoint! The Wolves went with a lineup of Rubio, LaVine, Wiggins, Bjelica, and Towns down the stretch (later subbing Martin back in for LaVine) that proved to be incredibly effective. The Wolves battled back and took the lead only to have Lou Williams bury a triple that made it just a one-point game. The Wolves couldn't convert on offense and the Lakers took a timeout with just 4.2 seconds to play in a one-point game. Kobe inbounded to Lou Williams who drove the lane and missed the runner as time expired and the Timberwolves batted the ball down the court.
The result was a narrow 112-111 win for the Wolves in their season opener.
Let's take a look at WHAT WE LIKED from tonight's game...
The Timberwolves, 1-0 play next on Friday night in Denver vs. the Nuggets. That one tips at 8pmCT. We leave you with the highlights from the game, thanks for reading and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!