The luck o’ the Irish came through for the Timberwolves on Sunday, as Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic were back in the lineup for the team and the team pulled out the victory in the late seconds! Here is how things transpired on St. Patrick’s Day.
The Wolves starting lineup looked like this: Rubio, Ridnour, Kirilenko, Williams, and Pekovic. The Hornets opened up with Greivis Vasquez, Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Anthony Davis, and Robin Lopez.
Going into the first timeout of the game, the Hornets held a 13-9 lead. The Wolves looked a little disoriented, trying to get Pekovic and Kirilenko back in the flow. While Pekovic was succeeding in the paint, Andrei looked a little off in the early minutes. Luckily, the Hornets had already turned the ball over four times. In other words, the game was being played like you might expect from two teams that are a combined 41 games under .500.
Toward the end of the 1st quarter, the Wolves managed to go on a little run to take a 28-27 lead into the 2nd quarter. Derrick Williams came alive in the final few minutes of the 1st, including a three pointer as the clock was running down in the quarter. The Hornets frontcourt of Lopez and Davis also had a nice quarter, shooting 7-9 from the field for 50% of the teams points.
A few minutes into the 2nd quarter, the Hornets went on a 9-0 run to take a 43-39 lead. Adelman had seen enough and burned a timeout. The rest of the 2nd quarter was only slightly better for the Wolves, as they never regained the lead from the Hornets. The teams combined for 19 turnovers in the half but they went up and down the court enough to make for a visually appealing half of basketball.
At the half, the Hornets held a 52-50 lead. Here are a few halftime thoughts through my Wolves lens:
- Even with Rubio much healthier, Greivis Vasquez continued to eat up the Wolves; 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists in the first 24 minutes of action
- While Pekovic looked pretty solid, Kirilenko looked flat and out of sync
- I would like to see a Chris Johnson & Pekovic frontline in the near future
Early in the 3rd quarter, Pekovic picked up his 4th foul and was quickly replaced by Stiemsma on the floor. The teams went back and forth in the early minutes of the quarter until Luke Ridnour threw a behind the back pass to DWill for the flush, giving the Wolves their first lead in some time, 63-62. The highlight led to a Monty Williams timeout with slightly more than six minutes left in the quarter.
Similar to prior quarters, The Wolves finished the 3rd quarter strong and took a 76-73 lead into the final frame. Derrick Williams led the way in the quarter, finishing the quarter with 20 points. However, the referees failed to call a foul on the Hornets as time expired in the quarter which would have (read: should have) sent Williams to the line with a chance to expand the lead.
Apologies in advance for the brevity of the 4th quarter recap. The game was actually enjoyable to watch and with about 90 seconds to play I noticed that I hadn’t typed in a single note from the quarter. The Hornets and Wolves kept it tight throughout the final twelve minutes. Greivis Vasquez had a huge quarter, scoring 12 of his 24 points in the 4th to keep the Hornets in the game. However, after going down 95-91, the Wolves scored the last 6 points of the game to steal the win on their home floor thanks to two defensive stops from Kirilenko. Pekovic and AK hit three free throws in the final seconds to put the Wolves on top and secured the victory!
Recap - Minnesota Timberwolves 97 - New Orleans Hornets 95
Keys of the Game
- Blocks – When you are significantly outrebounded by your opponent, you have to find another way to win the game and the Pups did so in the blocks department; 10 blocks for the team, 2 apiece for four different players.
- Free throws – First and foremost, the Wolves made them. Second, they got to the line 11 more times than the Hornets and made 8 more, including the three in final seconds to put them on top.
- Shutting down Eric Gordon – I’m not exactly sure how this happened, but the Wolves did a great job on Gordon tonight, holding him to just 7 points on 3-6 shooting. Rubio was on him for a portion of the game, but this was a tremendous team effort to erase Gordon’s offensive game.
Three Stars of the Game
- Derrick Williams – Career high 28 points for DWill to go with 7 rebounds. More importantly, he attacked the rim and played aggressively against Anthony Davis and others.
- Greivis Vasquez – While he didn’t have a good shooting night (10-25), Vasquez helped keep his team in the game with 24 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. Note the 6 TO’s though.
- Ricky Rubio – Rubio had a nice game shooting the ball, as he was 7-11 from the field for 16 points. He also had 6 assists and respectable defense against a solid Hornets backcourt.