The 9-11 Timberwolves travelled to Detroit to take on the 10-11 Pistons. The Wolves went into the game a disappointing 3-7 on the road, so nothing was to be taken for granted. No changes in the Wolves’ starting lineup: Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love, and Pekovic. The Pistons opened up with Brandon Jennings, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, and Andre Drummond.
Tuesday night was a much needed, easy victory for the Timberwolves. It allowed Coach Adelman to go to the reserves and save the team’s legs a little bit for the remainder of the week. The Wolves were dominant in the paint and on the free throw line. The starters ran through the Pistons and the bench did their part to maintain the advantages they were afforded. All in all, a solid outing from the club coming off of the beating it took from the Heat on Saturday night.
Well, it looks like Adelman drew up the playbook to be full of Kevin Love early and often and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that game plan. Love scored the first five points of the game and the Pups were out and running. As an added bonus to the early minutes of the game, the team featured Nikola Pekovic in the paint – it is like they knew I was covering tonight’s game! Thank you!
Down 25-20, the Pistons called the first timeout of the game. Alexey Shved checked in for the Wolves and immediately made a few plays that brought some excitement to Twitterverse. Hopefully that was the flash of play that the team will see moving forward over the next few weeks. Also worth noting is the thunderous dunk Corey Brewer threw down with about two minutes left in the opening frame. At the end of the 1st quarter, the Wolves held a 33-32 advantage. Defensive problems aside, this sums up the first twelve minutes of action nicely:
#Twolves frontcourt of Pek, Love and Brewer combined for 27 pts on 10-of-13 shooting in the 1st frame.
— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) December 11, 2013
The one item that stuck out the most in the 2nd quarter was the rotation that Adelman was leveraging. Love and Ricky Rubio sat for quite a few minutes, but Pekovic and Kevin Martin remained on the floor and vice versa. You never saw a mass exodus of starters to the bench, which is very clearly not an option for this team given the way the ball does (and does not) move around with our substitutes.
Around the six minute mark of the quarter, Adelman went back to the starting lineup and the Wolves tried to run away from the Pistons, with “The Kevin’s” leading the way. After a Love three pointer, the Pistons went for a lob play and Rubio’s fingertips caught a piece of the ball, which led to a turnover and fast break bucket for Martin, and eventually a three point play (after a timeout). After Martin converted, the Wolves held a 60-47 lead.
The teams traded a few baskets to close out the quarter. At the half, the Wolves held a 64-51 lead. Here are a few halftime thoughts:
- The Pistons bench looked as non-existent as the Wolves’ had been in the first quarter of the season
- The Wolves put the Pistons in the penalty early in the 2nd quarter and that really aided the Wolves advantage (17-21 on FT’s for the Wolves vs. 1-3 for the Pistons … Ouch)
- Kevin Love – 19 points and 11 rebounds … at halftime … ho-hum
The good times continued to roll right out of the locker room and into the 3rd quarter, with the Wolves getting a few easy baskets and taking a 69-53 lead less than two minutes into the quarter, leading to a Mo Cheeks timeout. The quick timeout didn’t light a fire under the Pistons whatsoever, who continued to seem to go through the motions. Brandon Jennings turned the ball over a few more times and Rubio made him pay on the other side of the court with a little bit of offense. (!!!) At the end of the 3rd quarter, the Wolves held a commanding 96-77 advantage.
This recap could essentially end right now. The 4th quarter was full of garbage time minutes as the Pistons never threatened the Wolves with a run and Adelman let the vast majority of the bench mob control the quarter. Pekovic was in the game for the first six minutes of the quarter for some reason, but left the floor after a timeout with the Wolves holding a 107-85 lead.
Robbie Hummel had a nice second half during the blowout, again showing the basic fundamentals of team basketball and Adelman’s system. While JJ Barea showed signs of coming around tonight, I would really prefer he force fed the guys that aren’t in the 7-8 man, regular rotation. That is the one ‘area of improvement’ that I took away from a blowout victory.
The final score – Timberwolves 121, Pistons 94
Three Stars of the Game
- Kevin Love – Welcome back! 26 pints, 16 rebounds, and 7 assists
- Nikola Pekovic – 16 points and 5 rebounds, but absolutely dominating in the paint
- Ricky Rubio – The Offensive Unicorn was on display tonight with 15 points and 9 assists
- As mentioned at halftime, the free throw advantage/disparity in tonight’s game played a pivotal role in the final score.
- KCP was on the radar of many Wolves fans going into the 2013 draft. He wasn’t very impressive this evening, sans the fingertip block he got on Love to stop the Pups fast break.