Playing their fourth game in five nights, the Minnesota Timberwolves traveled to Memphis Wednesday night and fell to the Grizzlies 85-80. Without Kevin Love for the final game of his suspension, the Timberpups were dominated on the glass getting outrebounded 59-47, and the Grizzlies set the tone on defense in what was a very sloppy and tired performance by the Wolves. The Grizzlies have now won nine of the last ten matchups against the Timberwolves.
For the second night in a row, Derrick Williams got the start at PF and played a solid game. Despite possessing a -13, the rookie out of Arizona scored 13 points on 6-13 shooting and grabbed 9 rebounds in 30 minutes of play. D-Will continues to look more comfortable as a PF than a SF and did a good job against strong interior defense by the Grizzlies. However, now that Love is back Williams will likely see his role decrease, at least as a PF.
Ricky Rubio played his worst game as a Pup, recording a season low 1 assist and scoring 4 points off of 1-6 shooting. The Memphis defense was able to anticipate and deflect passes from Rubio and prevented Tricky Ricky from getting his teammates involved, slowing down the offense from the source.
The Timberpups as a team shot only 39% from the field hitting only 4 three pointers, and the glaring need for a three point shooting SG became even more evident. With the trade deadline approaching it will be interesting to see what Kahn and Adelman will look at as far as potential trades.
Without Love, the Timberwolves were owned on the glass and the Grizzlies were able to grab 21 offensive rebounds. The loss of Love inevitably means the loss of rebounds, and his tip-ins and relentlessness around the glass will be warmly welcomed back this Friday against the Dallas Mavericks.
With Rubio struggling, JJ Barea saw an increased role in the offense and had a very good game, scoring 17 points and dishing out 6 assists in 23 minutes. Minnesota’s guards as a whole had a very miserable game and Luke Ridnour carried his struggles against the Kings into Memphis. Ridnour shot 1-8 from the field and was completely off on several shots. Wayne Ellington saw 12 minutes tonight but only made one shot, and Martell Webster went 0-3 in 8 minutes. Wesley Johnson had a few nice dunks and showed off his spectacular athleticism, but Wes continues to be a very one dimensional basketball player at this time in his career.
Another bright spot for the Timberwolves was Michael Beasley, who scored 13 points on 6-11 shooting and grabbed 6 rebounds. Beasley took less jumpshots and went straight to the rack much more, which is a good sign. Beas has to run his offense through driving to the rim and letting the rest of his game follow. He is a great shooter at times, but when he gets lazy and forces long mid-range jumpers instead of driving he can have a negative effect on the offense.
All things considered, the Wolves were very fatigued from their hectic week and need to move on from this defeat. Memphis has a very good defense and it was only time until Rubio had a truly rough game. With an incredibly young team like the Wolves, there are going to be growing pains that will be necessary for the long-term development of this squad.
Key Player: Rudy Gay scored 19 points and snagged 9 rebounds, having several highlight reel dunks that got the Memphis fans on their feet. Flight 22 is a very nice player and continues to perform against Minnesota.
Key Stat: 21-10 offensive rebounds in Memphis’ favor. It is pretty tough to compete in a game when you allow 21 offensive rebounds and the Timberwolves need to learn how to rebound effectively without K-Love in the game.