Friday night’s game at the Target Center was a chance for fans in the Twin Cities to see a small piece of history, as Rick Adelman was sitting on a coaching career win total of 999. With the Raptors in town and the way the Wolves have been playing over the past two weeks, things looked promising to see Adelman get to 1K.
Minnesota’s starting lineup had no surprises in it; Rubio, Ridnour, Kirilenko, Williams, and Pekovic. The Raptors opened up the game with Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson, and Jonas Valanciunas.
Friday’s game provided Pups fans to see Dwane Casey’s return to the Target Center sidelines. Casey didn’t get a fair shake as head coach here in Minnesota, but he also hasn’t necessarily proven anyone wrong with his track with the Raptors. To be fair, between head coaching gigs in Minnesota and Toronto, Casey was an assistant on the Dallas Mavericks, including their championship team in 2011.
With that out of the way, here is a rundown of Friday night’s events. After falling behind in the very early minutes of the 1st quarter, the Wolves quickly came alive and built a 21-13 lead. With the exception of some poor moves from DWill around the paint, the Wolves’ starters looked strong, led by Kirilenko and Pekovic down low in the paint. The Raptors tried to exploit DeMar DeRozan’s advantages over Ridnour at the SG position, but DeMar wound up missing 4 of his first 7 shots in the quarter.
Going into the 2nd quarter, the Wolves held a 24-18 lead. Adelman sent out the reserves to start the quarter, going with Barea, Shved, Budinger, Cunningham, and Stiemsma. While they looked lackluster on the offensive end, they were able to limit the damage on the defensive side of the floor. Going into the first timeout of the quarter, the Wolves had only lost one point off of their lead, holding a 30-25 advantage.
Unfortunately, Adelman didn’t go back to any of his starters coming out of the timeout. Alexey Shved looks beaten up. Adding insult to injury, he is not getting any calls on the offensive end. He and JJ Barea launched 4 three pointers over the course of the next few minutes and hit exactly 0 of them. The worst part of this second unit is the lack of any ability in the second string big men to create their own shot in the post. That leaves the guards doing the vast majority of the heavy lifting and leaves Shved and Barea hoisting up long jumpers time and time again.
At halftime, the Wolves held a 48-46 lead. Here are a couple of halftime thoughts through my Wolves lens:
- The Wolves were off from three point range in the first half (1-8) and hopefully that part of the game plan is removed for the second half.
- 15 assists for the Wolves on 19 made baskets, 10 of which came from Rubio and Ridnour.
After the Raptors took a 50-48 lead in the first few minutes of the 3rd quarter, the light bulb seemed to go off for the Wolves starters. They went on a 13-0 run to take a 61-50 lead and forced Casey to take a timeout (which was probably a series or two late). However, the Raptors answered with their own 12-3 run to cut it back to a two point game.
Ricky Rubio seemed to will the team through the 3rd quarter, pushing the right buttons at the right time and setting up his teammates for easy baskets. This included a bucket for Chase Budinger at the end of the quarter to untie the game. With the last second basket, the Wolves took a 73-71 lead into the final quarter. To be honest, the Wolves did not look good after the 13-0 run early in the quarter. The Raptors shot 50% from the field in the 3rd quarter and had too many easy baskets.
The teams went back and forth in the 4th quarter with neither team capable of pulling away from the other. DeMar DeRozan entered a little bit of a hot streak, with tremendous moves off the dribble for a few baskets. Adelman noticed this as well and moved AK47 over to guard the hot hand and made an immediate impact on the defensive end, leading to a missed basket from DeMar.
The final minutes of the quarter were incredibly frustrating for the Wolves and fans alike. The team missed a number of free throws, couldn’t grab the necessary defensive rebounds and lost a very winnable game at home against a poor Raptors team. For those that yearn for draft positioning, this loss was for you.
In case you missed it, in the final seconds, the Wolves played solid defense on Rudy Gay, forcing a missed mid-range jumper. From there, Rubio sped down the court to draw a foul. Unfortunately, Ricky made the first but missed the second. The Wolves were forced to foul but there was one-tenth of a second left in the game. Amir Johnson made the first attempt and intentionally missed the second, allowing time to expire and the Raptor to pull out the 95-93 victory at Target Center.
Keys of the Game
- Free throws – Amazing how I always cover games that come down to free throws. This was going to be the #1 key to the game no matter who was the victor. The Pups got to the line 40 times, while the Raptors only shot 16 FT’s all game. However, the Wolves shot themselves in the foot by missing 10 of those attempts, including several in the final minutes.
- Wing play – For the first time in a while, at least from my own perspective, the Wolves were dominated by the opposing team’s wings. DeRozan and Gay both went off tonight and the Wolves didn’t (or couldn’t) do enough to contain them.
Three Stars of the Game
- Rudy Gay – I know Big Al hates this one – 26 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. Gay also shot just over 50% from the field.
- Nikola Pekovic – Another big game from Pek, who finished with 24 points and 8 rebounds; including 12-16 from the FT line.
- DeMar DeRozan – DeRozan matched Gay’s 12-23 from the field and put in 2 points and grabbed 4 rebounds. He also led the charge in the 4th quarter.