After a quick trip out west, the Minnesota Timberwolves returned to the Target Center for a Sunday evening game against the Chicago Bulls. The Wolves were victorious Friday night against a hapless Phoenix Suns team. The Bulls were coming off a big victory Saturday night against the Indiana Pacers.
The Wolves opened up with the following lineup – Rubio, Ridnour, Kirilenko, Williams, and Pekovic. The Bulls continue to miss Derrick Rose, while Joakim Noah missed his second straight game. They were also without Rip Hamilton. Given all of this, the Bulls starting lineup consisted of Kirk Hinrich, Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, and Nazr Mohammed.
Going into the first timeout of the game, the Wolves held a 12-10 lead. The only Bulls player doing anything positive for the team on the offensive end was Hinrich, who had 8 of the team’s 10 points. Each of the Wolves’ starters contributed at least 2 points. However, coming out of the timeout, the Bulls came alive, going on a 9-2 run to take their first lead of the game.
At the end of the 1st, the Bulls held a 23-16 lead, continuing their run for the remainder of the quarter. They dominated the Pups on the offensive boards, with 11 offensive rebounds in the 1st quarter. By comparison, the Wolves had 1 offensive rebound and 10 total rebounds in the quarter. Chicago was led by Hinrich and Deng, while the Ricky Rubio was doing his part to lead the Wolves. Unfortunately, the Wolves frontline looked completely overmatched.
The 2nd quarter got off to a rough start for the Wolves as well. Adelman had to burn a timeout within the first three minutes, as the Bulls doubled up the Wolves on the scoreboard 12-6 to start the quarter and took a 35-22 lead. Nate Robinson provided a spark for the Bulls in the quarter, with 9 points and 6 assists during his time on the floor.
The Bulls do an excellent job of slowing down a game and frustrating their opponent. The Wolves fell victim on both accounts in the 1st half. The body language was not good and the amount of complaining to the officials was overdone. The only Pup that really stood out in the half was Dante Cunningham, who had 8 points in the half, but didn’t have a single rebound.
At the half, the Bulls held a 56-43 advantage after a wild final seconds. The Bulls grabbed a defensive rebound and Nate Robinson threw a beautiful lob to Taj Gibson for a slam. However, with about four seconds on the clock, the Wolves had enough time to get up the court, leading to a Derrick Williams rainbow three pointer that went in as time expired. Williams was overheard calling glass. (OK, not really)
Here are a couple of halftime thoughts through my Wolves lens:
- The Wolves broadcast announced during the 1st quarter that Kevin Love would send x-rays to NY on his hand later this week and he could be cleared to play thereafter. Love said his shooting has improved greatly.
- It was 80’s night at the Target Center Sunday night. However, the team wore their current uniforms? Would have liked to have seen the original uniforms from 1989.
- There were a number of Bulls fans in the crowd, as they could clearly be heard over the TV broadcast.
Ricky Rubio came out of the locker room and was fired up. He was creating havoc on the floor in the early minutes of the 3rd quarter. With a little over five minutes to play in the quarter, the Wolves were finally able to get the lead down to single digits, forcing a Chicago timeout. Rubio was doing everything in his power to get the team back in the game and it looked like it was finally starting to rub off on the other Pups.
Chicago was able to counter every mini-run the Wolves made and at the end of the 3rd quarter, maintained a double digit lead, 78-68. Carlos Boozer came alive in the quarter and had already amassed a double-double (15 & 10) by the end of the 3rd. On the Wolves’ end, Pekovic and Williams had decent 3rd quarters, but Andrei Kirilenko was MIA.
Minnesota tried to claw back into the game multiple times in the 4th quarter as well. Completely against the season long trend, the team caught fire from long range, with three’s from Budinger, Shved, and Williams to cut the lead to single digits again. Carlos Boozer clearly had other plans on the night, as he continued to put the Bulls on his back and end each Wolves run.
Despite their efforts in the 2nd half, the Wolves were never able to overcome the deficit and fell to Chicago 104-97. Overall, it was an enjoyable game to watch, just didn’t have the outcome Wolves fans would want.
Keys of the Game
- Rebounding – The clear differentiator in tonight’s game. The Bulls owned the offensive boards, grabbing 20 of them Sunday night, while the Wolves were only able to grab 6. Those advantages carried right over to total rebounds as well, with the Bulls holding a 52-32 advantage on the night.
- Effort – The Pups looked incredibly flat in the 1st half. Ridnour, Pekovic, and Kirilenko all looked worn down (and were virtually non-existent). Despite playing Saturday night, the Bulls came out as the more aggressive team and that helped them build and maintain their lead throughout much of the game.
Three Stars of the Game
- Carlos Boozer – Always seemed to have the answer when the Wolves made a run and owned the boards throughout the evening. Boozer finished with 19 points & 12 rebounds.
- Nate Robinson – Chicago’s sparkplug helped build the lead in the 1st half and drove home a dagger three pointer in the 4th quarter. Robinson finished with 22 points & 10 assists.
- Jimmy Butler – A very strong performance from Butler tonight; 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 steals.