At 35-35 the Timberwolves have essentially been eliminated from the playoffs, although this isn’t official. The original basketball team from Minneapolis paid a visit to the Twin Cities Friday night, coming in with a 24-47 record and a team whose season was over before it really began. With Kobe Bryant remaining on the shelf, Mike D’Antoni has apparently been busy floating his name in the college ranks. There aren’t many more dislikeable head coaches in the NBA, are there? That said, Wolves Twitter had their own little news today with a little more meat to the potato of Rick Adelman’s departure. (In short, we’ll cover this at the end of the season when it becomes official, but this could be filed under “no surprise”. You could also argue that Adelman has mailed it in since the beginning of 2014 … but I won’t … here/yet/now.)
So, with all of those tidbits out of the way, let’s talk about Friday night’s action at Target Center. Nikola Pekovic returned to action and the starting lineup, which also included Rubio, Martin, Brewer, and Love. The Lakers started the game with Kendall Marshall, Kent Bazemore, Jodie Meeks, Jordan Hill, and Chris Kaman. Good grief Charlie Brown … no Pau Gasol for the Lakers.
The Wolves welcomed back Pek in a big way, as the Serbian scored the first six points for the Wolves, giving the home team an early 6-2 lead. After a quick timeout by the Lakers, the Wolves continued to dominate the early stages of the quarter, building a 20-4 lead. Pekovic played the first seven minutes and was replaced by Gorgui Dieng. Early minutes for the rookie and I’ll ignore that the Wolves had already built a ~20 point advantage. At the end of the 1st quarter, the Wolves held a 41-24 lead, thanks to Pek’s aforementioned efforts and Kevin Love’s 15, 5, and 4 in the first twelve minutes.
The story of the 2nd quarter was “more of the same”. The Wolves’ bench played well and helped double up the Lakers to the tune of 60-30 with under 5 minutes to play in the half. That breaks down to a 19-6 run in the first ~7 minutes of the quarter. Dante Cunningham had a nice stint on the floor, with 6 points and 3 rebounds during that span.
If there were a mercy rule in the NBA, I think it would have been called at the half. The Wolves held a 74-43 advantage as the teams went into the locker room. It was 50/50 if the Lakers would come back out for the 3rd quarter. Here are a few halftime thoughts:
- The Wolves put up a season high 74 points in the 1st half, with the bench really contributing. Fantastic!
- Conversely, the Lakers are really, REALLY bad.
- Someone should clip the box score out of the local newspapers tomorrow and tape them to Love’s locker.
To answer the question “Did it get any better for the Lakers in the second half?” … the answer is “NO”! Tonight’s game could not have gone any better for the Pups. They reached 100 points with about five minutes to go in the 3rd quarter. Kevin Love had 19, 9, and 9 in the same amount of time. At the end of the 3rd, the Wolves held a 111-77 lead, and as an added bonus, Love tracked down a last second rebound to give himself a triple double for the evening.
I’ll save you the suspense, the Wolves managed to hold on to win this one. The members of the end of the rotation (Shabazz Muhammad, Alexey Shved, etc.) all played heavy minutes in the 4th quarter and everything wound up A-OK. Final score, Timberwolves with a big win of 143-107 over the Lakers.
Three Stars of the Game
- Nikola Pekovic – Welcome back the big guy!
- Kevin Love – Triple double alert!
- Wolves Bench– I could easily make the case for Kevin Martin here but I think this one deserves to go to the group of guys who I have personally thrashed much of this season. Tonight they played with passion and near flawless execution.
- Tonight’s 143 points were a franchise high in points for the Timberwolves
- The Lakers are really, really bad. There is absolutely nothing on this roster that would warrant trade rumors of Kevin Love going to this team via trade. Repeat, NOTHING!
- I hope the Wolves enjoy this one because they now enter a four game streak of potential doom (Nets, Clippers, Grizzlies and the Heat).