In their first game as the Minnesota Muskies, the Timberwolves fell at home to the Indiana Pacers 109-99. Indiana got their league-best 9th road win of the season, led by a dominating performance from Danny Granger that left the Muskies flopping on the sand. Granger scored 36 points, the most points by a Timberwolves opponent this season. He went 5-8 from beyond the arc and was also able to penetrate the Timberwolves defense at will, having an amazing performance in the Target Center where he previously possessed only a 29% career field goal percentage.
JJ Barea made his return from an ankle injury tonight, making only his 7th appearance of the season. He scored 7 points on only 2-8 shooting and looks very out of sync with the offense. Barea is going to have to stay healthy and continue to log minutes in order find his rhythm that he had early on this season.
The Timberpups really struggled to poke holes in a great Indiana defense and the Pacers were able to take Ricky Rubio’s playmaking ability out of the game. Rubio finished with 10 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds, but was obviously flustered with the tough, physical defense he encountered all night. The Pups were not able to penetrate and kick to the perimeter due to the solid Pacers’ defense and the Wolves offense sputtered at times because of it.
After a game in which the Timberwolves shot 59% as a team, the Wolves shot just 37% from the field including 3-17 from three. The Pups’ shooting continues to be inconsistent on a nightly basis and they are going to have to figure out how avoid off nights like tonight. One thing is clear: the Wolves need someone to start hitting threes besides K-Love.
Kevin Love had a solid night for the T-Wolves netting 21 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. Love encountered great interior defense by David West, Roy Hibbert, and Tyler Hansbrough and shot just 6-16 from the field. Love recorded his 20th double-double of the season.
Darko made his return from his three game absence due to illness and started tonight, shooting 2-9 from the field and possessing a +/- of -15, the worst on the team. While Darko played good defense on Roy Hibbert, his offense was absolutely horrendous. Darko possesses only one move on the low block, a left-handed hook shot that he hoists up recklessly. His lack of creativity with the ball is a testament to his lack of devotion to the game. After 8 years he has not developed a second or third move that he can mix up to throw off his defender and he is completely predictable. Darko possesses all the tools to be a great center, but he most likely will never become anything more than he already is because his lack of passion for basketball has been evident for many years.
Nikola Pekovic played a very nice game in relief of Darko, posting 13 points and 12 rebounds in 30 minutes of play. Pekovic is clearly the best offensive center on the Pups, but it seems that head coach Rick Adelman values Darko’s defense so much that he is going to continue to start Darko over Pekovic.
Wes Johnson had another tough game and does not appear to be contributing positively for the Wolves. Johnson had only 4 points in 18 minutes and his lack of confidence is glaring. Perhaps Adelman should let Johnson come off the bench and match up with second team players instead of starters. Wes needs to stop thinking while he is on the court and let the game come naturally to him. He is playing scared at this point in the season and if he continues to play scared he will continue to fail.
After 34 points against Houston, Michael Beasley had a tough night going 3-11 from the field and scoring 11 points. Super Cool Beas went against a great defender in Dahntay Jones and Jones dominated him with his excellent post defense.
I would like to address that Paul George is an absolute stud. After growing 2 inches this summer, George stands at 6’10” and has started at shooting guard all season for Indiana. The 21 year old is polished in nearly every area of his game and appears to be a future star for the Pacers. George was having a great game until getting his 4th personal foul early on in the third quarter, leading him to spend most of the second half on the bench. George matched up with 6’3” Luke Ridnour and had a huge size advantage.
Key Player: Danny Granger was unstoppable for the Pacers and had his way with the Timberwolves defense. His three-point and-1 in the 4th quarter was a dagger and he shot out of his mind from beyond the arc.
Key Stat: The Minnesota Timberwolves shot only 28-37 from the free throw line tonight. Their inconsistency at the charity strike continues to pose a problem for the Pups’ going forward.