The Twolves got right back on the court Thursday night in Denver, coming off an embarrassing loss to Utah less than 24 hours prior. No surprises in the starting lineups tonight. With Rubio remaining on the sidelines, the Pups opened up with Ridnour, Shved, Kirilenko, Love, and Pekovic. The Nuggets countered with Andre Miller, Andre Iguodala, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, and Kosta Koufus.
The Wolves were on the board first with a three pointer by Alexey Shved and I was hoping that was a sign of things to come. The visitors got off to a decent start, opening up a 9-4 lead, but that quickly diminished. There was a decent flow to the game, with the first timeout coming just over halfway through the quarter and the Wolves holding a 15-13 lead.
The rest of the quarter was comprised of two mini-runs. The Nuggets went on a 10-0 run first, led by former Pup Corey Brewer. Naturally, he hit two long jumpers, one from three point range. The Wolves were able to answer, going on an 8-2 run to close the quarter, trailing 25-23 after one.
At the start of the second quarter, my NBA League Pass account went haywire and I drove myself crazy for much of the quarter trying to toggle between a laptop, tablet and phone comparing which device was the most up to date. This truly could be a definition of “first world problems”.
The Pups received nice efforts from Shved and Derrick Williams in the second quarter, doubling up the Nuggets 14-7 through the first six plus minutes of the quarter, opening up a five point lead. During that same time, the Nuggets failed to make a basket for more than five minutes of game time, going cold from the field. Kevin Love came to life in the final few minutes of the half, with several rebounds and a few buckets, finishing the half with a double double (13 & 13).
At the half, the Wolves led 47-43, after outscoring the Nuggets by six in the second quarter. Here are two quick halftime thoughts:
- I beg of someone to be fully dedicated to optimizing the NBA’s League Pass package and the respective apps that are available across platforms. Please!
- My first train of thought going into halftime was of doubt. Could the Nuggets be contained as well as they were in the first half and/or would the Wolves slow down given the Denver air and the prior night’s game?
Those concerns quickly came to fruition and the Nuggets jumped on the Wolves with an 8-2 run, forcing Adelman to burn an early timeout. After the timeout, Gallinari drilled a three pointer and the Wolves continued to miss … jump shots. I’m going to start charting the shot selection for the Wolves if this continues much further. We need to get the ball down low to more players beyond Pekovic. The rest of the quarter continued to “stink” as the Wolves settled for jump shots and gave up buckets to the Nuggets in the paint. You know, exactly what they should have been trying to do.
As my inner complaints continued to form, we had a stoppage in play with around four minutes left in the quarter. Why? Man down … and it is Kevin Love and his hands again. Love went to the locker room with the trainer and it was later reported that he sprained a finger in his shooting hand. While he didn’t return to the game, hopefully this is nothing more than a quick break and Love doesn’t miss any more time. However, this does nothing to help his shooting. (Here’s where I’ll point out that it would be fantastic, and hysterical, if this actually turns out to be a turning point in Love’s shooting woes and he starts to move those percentages up over the next few weeks.)
After the injury timeout, the Nuggets went cold and the Wolves were able to cut the lead to four points (66-62). What could have been the offensive or defensive play of the night, turned into an anticlimactic moment that can easily be shrugged off. Corey Brewer had a breakaway and Dante Cunningham had him in his path. Cunningham got a piece of the ball but also fouled Brewer. However, Brewer’s dunk attempt was broken up and just had to force it in off the glass. Naturally, he missed the FT that followed.
The Nuggets continued to struggle to close out the quarter, while Alexey Shved started to shine again. To end the quarter, Shved drew a foul on his Russian comrade (too easy?) Timofey Mozgov, cutting the Nuggets lead to one point (70-69) going into the final frame.
The first six minutes of the fourth quarter were a very nice showing from both teams; good tempo, made baskets, etc. The Pups got a little hot (helped by a lack of defense from Denver) and took a two point lead (89-87) into a timeout. Shved, JJ, Luke, and DWill had a nice rhythm together on the court. Luke and JJ continued that strong play through the remainder of the quarter. After back to back three pointers from Barea, the Wolves led 97-91.
In the final minute, Iguodala had an opportunity for a three point play and to cut the lead to one possession, but missed a FT. The Wolves were able to rebound the ball on Nuggets missed FG attempts and hit a few FT’s. On a Denver possession with ten seconds to go, Ty Lawson wasted an incredible amount of time dribbling the ball and then decided to take it to the hole, despite being down by 5 points. That more or less sealed the fate of the game, with the Pups pulling out the 101-97 victory!
Three Stars of the Game:
- JJ Barea – big shots tonight from JJ
- Kevin Love – 12 & 17 in 24 minutes
- Dante Cunningham – stat stuffer; 6 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists & game high +22 +/-
The Pups return home for a match-up against another division rival – the Blazers – on Saturday.