Timberwolves Come Up Short, Fall 94-91 to Golden State

(photo credit: wizofawes.com)

(photo credit: wizofawes.com)

In a game that came down to the wire, the Timberwolves had a legitimate chance to pull off a win over the weary Golden State Warriors. In the end, though, Minnesota came up on the short end of the 94-91 game. Kevin Martin led the team in scoring with 21 points, followed closely behind by Ricky Rubio with 18. On the other side, Stephen Curry had another huge night with 25 points.

“We had a chance,” head coach Flip Saunders said following the game. “If we come out better from the beginning, we might have had a better opportunity.”

“We didn’t start the game very well especially against one of the best teams in the league,” Rubio said. “We’ve got to learn from this game that we have to play 48 minutes.”

The game had close moments throughout the first three quarters, and the Wolves held Golden State starters Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes to a combined 11 points on the evening. Even though the Warriors looked a bit more lackluster than usual, the 41-9 squad gradually pulled away from its opponents.

At the 7:30 mark of the fourth quarter, the Wolves trailed by 14. It seemed certain that the game would pull away from them. Rubio lit a spark of energy, however, and the team battled back to have a legitimate chance at winning. With Minnesota down 92-91, Nikola Pekovic missed a crucial layup that would have given his team the lead with less than 10 seconds left. Following the missed shot, Andrew Wiggins fouled Curry in a last-ditch effort to keep the Wolves in the game. Curry made both shots from the charity stripe, extending the lead to 94-91. With one final chance to throw up a three and tie the game, Klay Thompson tipped an inbound pass intended for Chase Budinger with 1.4 seconds left, and the game was over.

It was the reserves crew that made a difference Wednesday night. The Warriors led Minnesota 32-14 in bench points and shot 17 for 30 from the field.

“[Their reserves] won the game for them,” Saunders said, “and our bench didn’t match what they were able to do throughout the game.”

Minnesota’s bench players scored only 14 points as a unit, including a disappointing performance from Gorgui Dieng. The center 0-of-5 from the field and grabbed only two rebounds in almost 14 minutes of play.

The home loss dropped Minny’s record to 11-42 on the season. This was the final game heading into the All-Star break, so the team will get some much-needed rest. Up next, the Wolves will host Phoenix on Feb. 20.

Timberpups Weekly Preview – Week 16

The NBA’s top teams visit the Target Center this week ahead of NBA All-Star Weekend. (Credit: via Mashable - Marcio Jose Sanchez / Todd Kirkland, Associated Press)

The NBA’s top teams visit the Target Center this week ahead of NBA All-Star Weekend. (Credit: via Mashable – Marcio Jose Sanchez / Todd Kirkland, Associated Press)

 

Setting the stage:

The Minnesota Timberwolves are trying to turn the corner and come into the final week before All-Star Weekend with a three game winning streak.  With a 11-40 record, the Wolves are staring down ping pong balls and not much more but they are playing well within the past week.  The Wolves have two more games ahead of All-Star Weekend and while both are at home, they may be the toughest two opponents in the league.  The Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors are this week’s match-ups and should provide the Wolves’ faithful a glimpse of solid fundamentals and exciting team basketball.

Here is a quick preview for both games:

Game 52: Monday, 2/9, 7pm – Atlanta Hawks @ Timberpups (TV: FSN Plus)

Owners of one of the longer winning streaks you will find in recent NBA history (19 games) the Hawks look to enter the All-Star break with the best record in the Eastern Conference and, potentially the entire NBA.  Atlanta beat the Pups back on 1/25, 112-100.  All five starters scored in double figures for the Hawks in that affair, as they shot 56% from the field.

While the Wolves were without Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin for that game, it will be tough to beat one of the league’s strongest team defenses and best overall teams.

Opponent to watch:

Al Horford – One of the league’s best big men, Horford had 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists in the game against Minnesota, shooting 8-9 from the field in 31 minutes.  As Nikola Pekovic continues to round into form, he will need to use his muscle and punish Horford on both end of the floor.

Game 53: Wednesday, 2/11, 7pm – Golden State Warriors @ Timberpups (TV: FS North)

The most exciting team to watch in the NBA frequents the Target Center just ahead of All-Star Weekend.  The Warriors put up over 110 points per game on average and this game could lead to a 240 points plus combined.  Don’t miss this game if you like offense!

Opponent to watch:

Stephen Curry – Are we beyond the statute of limitations on “what could have been?!” here?  I can’t decide.  Curry has been lights out this season, leading the team in points, assists, and steals.  I hate to even say it, but most importantly, Curry hasn’t missed a game all season.

Wrap-up:

A short, but very tough week for our Pups.  Hopefully everyone can stay healthy and get the necessary rest and relaxation during the All-Star break so that the team can come back with a positive attitude and finish the season on some type of strong note.  Let’s go Wolves!

Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Golden State Warriors, 2/24/13

Photo Credit: Adidas

Photo Credit: Adidas

Our Pups return home after a high scoring affair Friday night against the OKC Thunder to take on the vastly improved Golden State Warriors Sunday afternoon. While the Wolves season has fallen apart, the Warriors are meeting or exceeding expectations to this point in the season. Minnesota comes into Sunday’s game with a 20-32 record, while the Warriors come into the game off of a big, overtime victory Friday night against San Antonio, improving their record to 32-23 on the year.

Before Friday’s game, the Warriors announced that Andrew Bogut would miss another indefinite amount of games due to problems with his back. This has to be frustrating for Warriors fans as the team has climbed to the six seed in the conference largely without their starting center. One must wonder “what could have been” if Bogut was able to stay healthy, particularly in an effort to avoid the Spurs and/or Thunder in the first round of the playoffs. That said, I don’t think the Warriors will get many pity points from the Timberwolves or their fans given what has transpired this season for our Pups.

These two teams have not met since November, when the Warriors handed the Wolves two losses over the span of eight days. Golden State took the first match-up 106-98 at the Target Center and then the second match-up in the Bay area 96-85.

Finally, in case you missed it, the Warriors launched a new jersey in Friday night’s game on ESPN – the Spurs-Warriors game followed the Wolves-Thunder match-up on ESPN’s doubleheader. The jersey is more t-shirt vs. jersey and is certainly an interesting mix into the lineup. The cynic in me suggests that this type of “jersey” makes it an easier transition for the NBA to start putting brand logos and advertisements on their apparel.

Player to watch:
David Lee – Lee had two solid performances against the Wolves in those November meetings, putting up 18 points and 13 rebounds in Minnesota and 17 & 8 in the following match-up. Without Kevin Love again, it will be important for Minnesota’s frontcourt to keep Lee off the boards as much as possible and to stay in front of him in the isolation sets, not allowing him to fly by the defender and/or having a second defender backing up whoever is matching up against Lee directly.

Match-up to watch:
Ricky Rubio vs. Stephen Curry. The could-have-been teammates are the primetime match-up in Sunday afternoon’s meeting. About the only positive topic the Wolves have going right now is the on-going improvement in Rubio’s game as he continues to build/gain confidence in his knee. Curry is having a career year this season, coming into the game averaging a career best 21.1 ppg, 6.6 apg, and 4.0 rpg. He also has a 19.8 PER, which is good for fifth highest in the league among PG’s.

Predictions:
The Warriors are coming off of a solid win against the Spurs Friday night, so there is a chance of a letdown here at the Target Center. However, I won’t go on record predicting one.
Final score prediction: Twolves 104, Warriors 112

Three stars of the game predictions:
1. Harrison Barnes
2. David Lee
3. Nikola Pekovic

Lets go Wolves!