The 17-18 Timberwolves, “good” for 10th place in the Western Conference, hosted the Charlotte Bobcats / Hornets Friday night. I am going to skip over my thoughts on the Kevin Love soundbytes for the time being. I don’t have the will right now to tackle it from both sides or angles and it deserves both. However, know that I’m not happy that it happened publicly or where this team currently sits in the Western Conference.
Here is how things went down Friday night. No surprises or changes in the Wolves’ starting lineup: Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love, and Pekovic. The 15-21 Bobcats (currently residing in 7th place in the Eastern Conference?!) opened up with Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Josh McRoberts, and (Big) Al Jefferson. Nice to see Big Al back on the Target Center floor!
A complete laugher from the middle of the 2nd quarter. No, really. The Wolves with a much needed, easy victory on Friday night to get back to .500 ball and yet another chance to get over the hump on Sunday.
It was announced in the early stages that LRMAM was active for tonight’s game and the Timberwolves had a fully healthy roster, so much so that Robbie Hummel was deactivated and wearing street clothes (or a suit) Friday night. The Wolves opened up a 9-4 lead rather quickly, including a Ricky Rubio three pointer. Before that shot went down, here was my overall opinion of the game:
If the #Twolves lose tonight, call it a season. Wait, what? That’s more “confidence” than “pessimism” for those scoring at home
— john flesta (@jflesta) January 11, 2014
Unfortunately, they had to play the whole game. The Bobcats clawed (…) their way back into the game, with Al Jefferson leading the team in scoring through the first twelve minutes. At the end of one, the Wolves held a 29-28 lead, thanks to the efforts of “The Kevin’s” again. Love finished the quarter with 6 points and 9 rebounds. Kevin Martin finished with 10 points on 5-5 shooting and 3 assists.
Coach Adelman opened up the 2nd quarter with five members of the bench – Barea, Shved, Budinger, Cunningham, and Turiaf. To say I’m not a fan of going wholesale changes with this roster is a massive understatement. With that said, we saw “good JJ Barea” and positive play from Alexey Shved and Ronny Turiaf to give the Pups a 40-30 lead and forcing the Bobcats to burn another timeout. (Just like I predicted)
At the half, the Timberwolves held a 68-48 lead, clicking on all cylinders offensively. Here are a few halftime thoughts:
- 7-8 from the line, 7-9 from 3PT range, 18 assists on 27 made buckets … amazing what this team looks like when clicking on offense
- Very strong half from the Wolves bench, including a strong performance from Chase Budinger – welcome back!
The 3rd quarter felt like a completely dominant performance from our Pups. However, it was just carryover from the first half. Nikola Pekovic ran over/through Big Al and the rest of the Bobcats in the quarter, finishing the third with 26 points on 10 of 14 shooting. “The Kevin’s” continued their dominate performance as well, with the Wolves outscoring the Bobcats 27-22 in the quarter, taking a 95-70 lead into the final frame.
With quite a bit time left in the 4th quarter, Adelman emptied out the bench, throwing Gorgui Dieng and AJ Price out there with about six minutes left to play. To be honest, I would really still like to see more of Dieng. Turiaf brings a ton of intangibles, but he isn’t a long term solution. In blowout wins or losses (at the very least), those minutes need to go to Dieng.
In any case, the laugher ended with a final score of 119-92 in favor of the good guys … just like I predicted. Every dog has his day.
Three Stars of the Game
- Nikola Pekovic – Dominant performance from Pek in the paint, making Big Al and others work on the defensive end of the floor
- Kevin Martin – I’m putting Martin here because he was on fire early and heavily contributed to the insurmountable lead for to the Pups
- Kevin Love – 19 & 14 for the best PF in the league. Remember folks, tweet “Kevin Love, #NBABallot” every day
- Mentioned this above, but it is amazing what this team can do when the offense is clicking. Tonight, they made a season high 48 field goals
- While not worth much of anything, Anthony Tolliver lit it up this evening; 8-9 from the field, 5-5 from 3PT range, for a total of 21 points and far surpassing his season high of 12 (twice)
- It will be interesting to see if or how this game carries over to Sunday’s game, as the Wolves take another stab at going over the .500 mark. This team MUST go on a run sooner rather than later