The Timberwolves followed up a loss against the Lakers in which they shot 37.5% from the field to shoot 58.1% as a team Monday night and win in Houston 120-108. The Timberpups flowed seamlessly as a team and put together their best performance of the season, getting a rare win against a Houston team that had previously beaten Minnesota 15 out of the last 16 matchups. Michael Beasley scored 34 points off of the bench, which set a Timberwolves franchise record for points scored in a game by a bench player. Beasley shot 10-14 from the field including an impressive 12-12 from the free throw line in only 32 minutes of play. Beasley continues to look great as a 6 man and if he can keep this play up he may have found a permanent place on the Pups going forward.
I can’t say enough about how well nearly every Timberwolves player played tonight and there were very few negatives to take away from the game.
Ricky Rubio came close to recording his first triple-double of his young career and stunned a Houston crowd getting 18 points, 11 assists, and 8 rebounds on 6-10 shooting. Rubio dominated a very good point guard in Kyle Lowry and was able to pick apart Houton’s defense, creating easy opportunities for the whole team. Rubio is the key that has unlocked the Timberwolves success, and his unselfishness has sparked a newfound confidence in a talented roster that is coming together before our eyes. Rubio was as good as any point guard in the NBA tonight and should have a spot on the all-star team if he continues his stellar play.
Kevin Love failed to record a double-double for only the second time this season, but do not let this stat fool you. Love imposed himself on a good Houston defense and scored 29 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. He had a tough time on defense in the first half but came together in the second to help the Timberwolves dominate the Rockets the rest of the way. Clyde Drexler dubbed Love “a legitimate NBA superstar” during tonight’s performance and Love has been nothing short of that this season.
The Pups shot 28-31 as a team from the line and scored a franchise high for points in a third quarter with 42. The Rockets defense did not do themselves any favors but the fact is that the Wolves were red hot tonight and would have had their way with nearly every NBA defense. Facing the adversity of a 40-104 shooting night against the Lakers, the Pups responded with maturity and put up an overwhelming performance on the road.
Michael Beasley played like a man tonight. He put his head down, shut up, and got down to business doing what he does best. Beasley admitted after the game that he stopped worrying about his shot and stopped thinking, and there is a lot to be said about how much he has grown up this past year. With mixed sentiment among Timberwolves fans about if Beasley should be apart of the team’s future, I think Super Cool Beas changed a lot of opinions tonight. Beasley’s talent and ability have always been undeniable, and he put everything together tonight for, in my opinion, the best game of his career. He knew when to take certain shots and when to find his teammates, displaying great court vision and a high basketball IQ. The Timberwolves may have found their 6 man of the future.
Darko and Barea sat out tonight’s game yet again. Nikola Pekovic started in Darko’s place and put up a solid performance of 8 points and 7 rebounds in 19 minutes. Pek got in early foul trouble and continues to commit too many offensive fouls, mainly on screens. With the lack of depth at center Pek is going to need to find a way to not get into foul trouble whenever he logs significant minutes.
One negative from tonight was the play of Wes Johnson, who started at SF but committed 6 turnovers in just 20 minutes, scoring 4 points on 2-7 shooting. Johnson’s lack of confidence from beyond the arc is obvious this season and he is shooting a mere 24%, down from 36% last season. Wes needs to stop thinking so much let the game come to him. He forces the issue on too many possessions and doesn’t fully commit to many moves that he makes, which generally leads to turnovers.
The Pups struggled to guard Kevin Martin once again this season but their offensive firepower compensated for it. Martin made his return from injury tonight and netted 29 points.
Derrick Williams was a non-factor and failed to score a point, receiving only 7 minutes of playing time. D-Will appears to be the player most negatively affected by the additions of Webster and Beasley into the lineup and he will need to really perform to take minutes from either of those players.
Outside of giving up 108 points, the Timberwolves played as well as I could imagine. I knew that the roster they possess had a chance to be great in future years, but I did not realize that performances like tonight’s would occur this soon in the season.
Key Player: Beasley is starting to resemble his best friend, Kevin Durant, and I can not talk enough about the type of maturity he displayed tonight. I am really pulling for him to build on his amazing performance and earn a spot on this team for many years to follow.
Key Stat: +22 for Ricky Rubio, leading the team in +/- once again this season.