The Timberwolves traveled to Washington on Tuesday night for a matchup with a healthy Wizards squad. Minnesota witnessed first hand the Wizards’ impressively refined offense and saw glimpses of greatness from both Bradley Beal and John Wall. Beal led Washington with 25 points (9-21 FG) and Wall himself tallied 14 points (5-17 FG) to go with a game-high 16 assists and 5 rebounds as the Wizards defeated the Wolves 104-100.
The first quarter was very evenly played by the two teams. Washington focused on running their offense through the post, cycling Nene to the high post where he hit a few jump shots right off the bat. On the opposite end of the floor, Kevin Love had himself quite a first quarter. Coming into tonight’s game, Love ranked third in the NBA in first quarter scoring with just under 9 points. He nearly doubled his first quarter points average as he finished the period with 16 points on 5-6 shooting.
Into the second quarter, Minnesota’s bench (which has been particularly problematic this year) helped to extend the Wolves lead putting it at 53-37 with nearly 6 minutes left in the first half. The Wolves were able to maintain around a 10-point margin until the 2:30 mark, when a Nene layup brought the game back to single digits. However, the Wolves came right back and headed to the locker rooms with a 63-51 lead.
The second half consisted of absolutely spectacular play from the young Beal. The former number-3 overall selection put on a shooting clinic beginning with around 8:00 in the quarter when back-to-back three-pointers by the former Gator brought Washington to within one point of the Wolves. Behind more hot shooting from the Eric Gordon clone, Washington knotted things up at 81 heading into the final quarter.
The Wolves missed countless opportunities in the fourth quarter and ultimately fell 104-100, despite a strong bench performance from rookie Robbie Hummel. Hummel, who fought for and won a roster spot back in training camp, looked very sharp as he tallied 7 points (2-2 3pt) and 6 rebounds without turning the ball over once in 22 minutes. K-Love really cooled down in the second half and ultimately posted a casual 25 point (8-17 FG) and 11 rebound line while Ricky Rubio was largely ineffective throughout much of the game, finishing with only 10 points and 2 assists. Martell Webster deserves a lot of credit as he hit the go-ahead three-pointer which effectively won the game for the Wizards.
Three Stars of the Game
- Bradley Beal: The 20-year-old shooting guard showed us why he was taken with such a high pick as he shot lights out despite facing fairly decent close outs by Timberwolves defenders. The backcourt of Wall and Beal should be fun to watch for many years to come.
- John Wall: With a game-high 16 assists, Wall is proving that he knows how to play the point guard position extremely well and knows when to act as facilitator and when to attack the rim. And while he may need some work done to his jump shot, he is currently a much more developed all around player than La Pistola.
- Kevin Love: It has become customary to see Love put up ridiculous numbers in games that aren’t necessarily considered great games for the big fella. Love did a lot with little support from his teammates tonight and provided sparks when the team needed them. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t Minnesota’s night.
- Marcin Gortat was a nice offseason pickup for Washington. He adds a defensive presence to Washington’s frontcourt to help compensate for the rebounding deficient Nene.
- What’s up with Nikola Pekovic? He seems to disappear for long periods of time during games so far this season and I am seriously wondering if it has something to do with Bill Bayno being gone as an assistant coach. Pek and Bayno clearly had a solid connection and it is a real bummer they were unable to retain him. One thing is clear: Pek needs to regain his confidence if the Wolves are to seriously compete later on this season.
- It was a very nice game for the former Pup Webster, who shot 5-10 from beyond the arc on his way to 17 points and 9 rebounds. Webster, who is finally healthy, enjoyed a breakout season for Washington last season shooting over 40% from three.
- Was it just me, or was Jan Vesely pretty impressive out there tonight? The former 6th overall pick just a few seasons ago who has largely been considered a bust shot 4-4 from the floor while grabbing 6 rebounds and even being the beneficiary of a couple of sweet alley-oops in transition.
- Off night for Rubio. Wall played solid defense and did a good job at not allowing Ricky much penetration, effectively containing him.