As expected, Kevin Love returned to the starting lineup tonight for the Pups, joining Ridnour, Shved, Kirilenko and Pekovic. No surprises from the Magic, as they opened up with Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, Maurice Harkless, Glen Davis, and Nikola Vucevic.
As they should have, the Wolves got off to a quick start dominating the paint area going up 12-5 and forcing Magic coach Jacque Vaughn to burn an early timeout. With the Wolves up 14-9, Luke Ridnour turned the ball over to Big Baby who then dribbled the ball down the court for a dunk. How or why no one on the Wolves caught up to Davis to foul him is beyond me (and quite frustrating). Minutes later, Pekovic was called for traveling in the paint when the refs should have called a 3rd foul on Davis. Knowing the final outcome of the game allows me to point out how critical this call/non-call was.
At the end of the 1st quarter, the Wolves were up 29-27. However, it should have been much larger as the Pups failed to score a single point in the final 2+ minutes of the quarter. Ricky Rubio checked into the game with about four minutes left in the quarter and had several flashy passes – some of which led to turnovers instead of easy baskets. This will likely take some time to get acclimated to his teammates and tendencies. The Magic were down by as many as 11 points in the quarter and were able to close strongly, on a 10-1 run.
The Wolves second unit struggled on the offensive end of the floor in the 2nd quarter. Dante Cunningham provided his normal, active body. However, DWill, Rubio, Barea, and Stiemsma all struggled to produce in their minutes. Adelman saw similar results and went back to much of his starting lineup coming out of a TO halfway through the quarter.
After taking a 42-41 lead, the Magic went cold and allowed the Wolves to open up what should have been a comfortable lead. The Pups went on a 20-7 run to close out the half, with the Wolves up 61-49. Here are a few halftime thoughts through my Wolves lens:
- Despite the score, the Wolves did not look good defensively
- However, they dominated the paint on the offensive side of the ball, particularly Pekovic
- JJ Redick would look fantastic in a Wolves uniform, no?
- The Magic announcers (Breen and Goukas) basically said that Kevin Love will be a Laker or Blazer sooner rather than later. Excuse me for a few seconds …
The opening minutes of the 3rd quarter were played at a relatively slow pace. The Wolves increased their lead to 15 points, going up 68-53. With a chance to increase the lead further, the Wolves missed another layup and saw the Magic start to cut into the gap. The Magic were led by the offensive efforts of Big Baby. Kevin Love’s defensive efforts were not on display in this one.
The Wolves continued to struggle on both ends of the floor in the 3rd quarter, outscored by the Magic 25-17 at the end of three to reduce the Pups lead to just 4 points, 78-74. Interesting stat from the quarter; neither team attempted a FT in those twelve minutes. This can’t happen very often at all, can it?
As a Wolves fan, the 4th quarter was incredibly frustrating. The game went back and forth over the first six-seven minutes or so of the quarter with neither team doing much offensively. Unfortunately, the Magic woke up and were able to pull away over the next few minutes, going on a 17-6 run to end the game and pull out the win, 102-93. The Wolves fell asleep in the second half for some reason, only scoring 32 points over the final 24 minutes.
These are games that the Wolves need to win. With the assumption that Rubio is shut down for Tuesday’s game in Miami as scheduled, it looks like the team will head back to Minnesota later this week on a two game losing streak and facing the Thunder. (Gulp)
Three Stars of the Game:
- Glen Davis
- JJ Redick
- Nikola Pekovic