The Minnesota Timberwolves concluded their unsuccessful homestand Friday night and will be going on the road as losers of five of their six. Friday night’s game was against the somewhat surprising NY Knicks. Here is how things progressed.
The Pups opened up with a similar lineup to Wednesday night’s game with Rubio, Ridnour, Gelabale, Williams, and Pekovic. In other words, Kirilenko was not available again due to his injury. The Knicks opened up with Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony, and Tyson Chandler. Looking at those opening lineups it felt like a night where the Wolves wouldn’t be eaten up in the backcourt. However, the team sorely missed AK47 given what was to come from Melo.
The 1st quarter could be described as the Carmelo Anthony show, as he took nine shots in his first twelve minutes of the game, finishing the quarter with 11 points. The Wolves countered with Pekovic who grabbed an early advantage vs. Tyson Chandler. Chandler looks a step behind right now. I’m not sure if that is because of being banged up, the Olympics, or a combination of items. In any case, while Pekovic was looking good, his teammates failed to look for him enough. Let’s get one thing straight moving forward; Pekovic needs the ball in the paint much, much more often. At the end of the 1st quarter, the Knicks held a 25-23 lead.
At the beginning of the 2nd quarter, Amare Stoudemire posterized Greg Stiemsma with a vicious dunk. That led to a small run from the Knicks to build their lead up to 8 points. However, the Wolves fought back thanks to the efforts and hustle of Cunningham and Shved. Ricky Rubio drove ninety four feet to the basket to make a layup and draw a foul against Carmelo, which led to this immediate thought:
That was a perfect example of why I don’t like Melo.Awful defense … putrid.#Twolves
— john flesta (@jflesta) February 9, 2013
Let that one resonate for a while and tell me what you think of Carmelo in the comments below. I know that many feel differently and I can understand why, I just can’t get behind a guy that has the amount of talent he does and he doesn’t leave it both ends of the floor.
After the Wolves grabbed the lead for a few seconds, the Knicks came storming back and finished the 2nd quarter on an 11-3 run to take a 52-45 lead into halftime. Here are my HT thoughts through a Wolves lens:
- The Wolves must feed Pek the ball. This isn’t rocket science.
- Why is Rick Adelman not giving minutes to Chris Johnson?
Well, I can tell you that the ‘halftime lens’ was typed up during halftime and I don’t have a wire right into the Wolves locker room. Why do I mention this? The 3rd quarter was filled with direct responses to my questions and comments, as Pek dominated the early minutes of the quarter against Chandler. After Cunningham picked up a foul (and technical), we saw the emergence of Chris Johnson. Finally!
Despite Carmelo’s best efforts (24 points through three), the Wolves owned much of the 3rd quarter, outscoring the Knicks 31-18 and finished on an 8-0 run going into the final quarter. At the end of three, the Wolves held a 76-70 lead.
It didn’t take long for the Pups to give up all of the good vibes from the 3rd quarter in the final frame. There is virtually nothing left that can be said at this point. After outscoring the Knicks 31-18 in the 3rd, the Wolves were outscored in the 4th by a score of 30-18. For those fortunate enough to miss the game, here is a quick summation of what transpired – another choke job by the team at the FT line. What drill needs to be eliminated from the team’s practice schedule so that they can spend more time on the line? You almost missed the total disappearance of Pekovic. It would be nice to have set plays for Pekovic to ensure the Wolves’ guards get him the ball.
This is just the latest collapse from the Wolves team that is decimated by injury. I can’t imagine there is much confidence left in the locker room either. The Knicks finished the game on a 24-7 run to escape Minnesota with a 100-94 win.
Keys of the Game
- Shooting – I say the same thing in every loss so I’m just combining this into one bullet point. 1-13 from 3PT range and 8 more missed FT’s. Let’s just move on…
- Ridnour & Barea – Ridnour had a nice shooting night but choked at the end. Barea stunk again. Neither gets the ball into the paint to the Wolves front court. One of these two needs to go for some type of future asset.
Three Stars of the Game
- Carmelo Anthony – A no-brainer with 36 points and 9 rebounds. He was essentially the entire Knicks offense tonight. (I still don’t like him)
- Nikola Pekovic – 16 & 11 on only 10 shots. Similar to Wednesday night, the team needs to start running plays for Pek and the set offense through him. Please!
- Ricky Rubio – I have a hard time picking a second Knick because no one stood out beyond Anthony. Rubio gets the nod here for his 18 point, 11 assist performance. However, he missed crucial FT’s in this game and got shutdown by Chandler at the end of the game.