On the night that the Golden State Warriors officially celebrated the career of now Hall of Famer Chris Mullin, the Minnesota Timberwolves were able to spoil the celebration in Oakland while snapping a three game road skid, winning by a score of 97-93. Carrying the team the whole way was Kevin Love, who scored 36 points on 13-23 shooting while grabbing 17 rebounds, which was equal to the total rebounds grabbed by the Golden State starting lineup. K-Love really turned it on in the second half, carrying the scoring load with both Nikola Pekovic and Michael Beasley out after aggravating foot injuries in the first half. Despite facing an inferior opponent, the Wolves got a hard earned win tonight and really battled through a cold shooting second half to pull away with the game in the final minutes.
The Timberpups point guards really stepped up after having an off night in Sacramento. Starting PG Luke Ridnour scored 11 points and dished out 10 assists, while backup PG JJ Barea recorded 6 points and 10 assists. Because of Barea’s size, he is at a disadvantage for receiving foul calls in his favor. However, tonight he kept forcing the issue by running into crowded lanes and attempting to get foul calls that were not being called, and the team really needs him to play like a veteran and pick up on what the referees are calling instead of forcing shots and playing stubbornly.
At the half, the Pups led 49-35. The Wolves shot 50% from the field in the first half, while the Warriors managed to only shoot 33%. On the offensive end, the Pups had a fairly easy time getting open looks, while on the opposite end the Warriors did a very poor job of working for shots, settling for many contested fade-aways. As a part of Chris Mullin night, halftime featured a 39 minute ceremony and culminated in the Golden State fans booing team owner Joe Lacob. The long break proved to get the Wolves out of any rhythm that they were in from the first half, and Golden State erased the 14 point deficit to eventually take the lead in the third quarter. However, the Wolves tightened up defensively in the fourth quarter and Anthony Tolliver provided a huge spark to keep the momentum in Minnesota’s favor. Facing his former team, Anthony Tolliver played a tremendous game on both ends of the floor and earned every single second that he was out on the floor. In 16 minutes, Tolliver scored 10 points while converting 2 of his 3 three point attempts, also grabbing 5 rebounds. All the while, Tolliver played notable defense and brought an infusion of energy to a groggy Wolves team in the second half.
Young Wes Johnson filled his role tonight, scoring 9 points and grabbing 4 rebounds in 21 minutes. Wes shot 3-6 from the field and 2-3 from beyond the arc, playing respectable defense throughout the contest. 6-man Michael Beasley had a solid first half, scoring 8 points in 10 minutes. However, Beasley aggravated his sore toe and was unable to go in the second half.
In a frustration-riddled performance, Derrick Williams recorded only 6 points in 37 minutes and shot a miserable 2-9 from the field. Golden State defenders were very physical with D-Will on the low block, and frankly it is going to take some time before the rookie is going to get calls on an opponent’s floor from NBA officials. Williams kept his head up and did not mope or complain, and it was definitely a positive sign from the young stud out of Arizona. D-Will’s development as a player is going to largely depend on how he faces and handles adversity, and it appears that Williams has the right head on his shoulders to encounter and deal with any problem he may face. He channeled his frustration into energy and used it to grab 11 rebounds and play impressive defense.
Turnovers continue to be a major problem facing the Timberwolves, as they committed 16 tonight, doubling the amount that Golden State recorded. Careless passes and poor communication on offense are the biggest contributors to this problem, and they need to lock in to stop giving their opponents extra possessions.
This was a good win for the Wolves, even if the Warriors are not going anywhere. Missing Pekovic and Beasley for much of the game took away two of their biggest threats to score, but K-Love was able to take over in their stead. The T-Wolves are now 2-3 on this road trip and will face off in San Antonio against the Spurs on Wednesday night.
- Key Player: This one is obvious, I’m going with Kevin Love. 36 points and 17 rebounds says it all, but do not forget about the impact that Anthony Tolliver had in the second half.
- Key Stat: Tonight was the 5th time in Timberwolves team history that two players (Ridnour, Barea) recorded 10+ assists in a game together.
Photo Credits: Jeff Chiu – Associated Press