Coming off a loss that I’m going to try to stop thinking about Wednesday night against the Knicks, The Timberwolves entered Friday night’s affair with a 30-30 record. The 24-37 Pistons took to the Target Center floor amidst rumors of Isiah Thomas weaseling his way into the Motor City and knocking Joe Dumars out of a job. Only one of those two thoughts should be a reality (hint: it’s the latter). The Pistons had lost 8 of 10 coming into tonight’s action, affording the Wolves another opportunity to capitalize.
No surprises for the Wolves’ starting lineup: Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love, and Pekovic. The Pistons opened up with Brandon Jennings, Kyle Singler, Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, and Andre Drummond.
Perhaps due to their #WolvesKlondike contest on social media (kidding … and I missed by one basket at the end!) the Wolves tried to feed Nikola Pekovic early. However, it was Kevin Martin who got off to a hot start, scoring six of the team’s first eight points. The Wolves caught a break early with Greg Monroe picking up two quick fouls. With that, Minnesota was off and running taking a 17-9 into the first timeout.
Here is what you need to know about the remainder of the 1st quarter: the Wolves only shot three 3PT’ers (hitting two of them) and had 39 points in the first twelve minutes. How? They attacked the rim time and time again. This lead to 9-11 on the FT line and shooting over 50% from the field in the opening frame. That may have been the best execution I have seen this season, as the Wolves took a 39-21 lead into the break.
As Adelman went further and further down the bench, the Pups managed to maintain their double digit advantage. I’ve verbally abused (on the internet) JJ Barea over the past two months (note: deservedly) but he had a nice run in the quarter, dropping 4 points and 5 assists in his first stint on the floor. Going into a timeout, the Wolves held a 61-38 and the Pistons body language was already showing signs of giving up.
With the score 66-45 at the break, here are a few halftime thoughts:
- The Wolves bench had 24 points at the half, led by Barea, LRMAM, and Chase Budinger. The team really needs to see Budinger make significant steps over the remainder of the season.
- He makes it really easy to make fun of him, but who else on the roster is Brandon Jennings going to rely on to score consistently? Key word, “consistently”.
Things didn’t get any better for the Pistons to start the 3rd quarter. In fact, it got worse. From the scoreboard, to their effort, and to their body language, everything looked to be going downhill for Detroit. The Pistons called their first timeout of the half after falling behind 77-51.
Here is what you need to know about the rest of the quarter: it was great from a Wolves’ perspective and it was mortifying from a Pistons’ view. At the end of the 3rd quarter, the Wolves held a 97-69 advantage. Oddly enough, it felt about 1.3 times worse than this. I spent most of the quarter talking to Wolves Twitter and could barely keep my eyes on the game.
In typical Wolves-bench fashion, they had an opportunity for extended playing time in the 4th quarter and managed to look god-awful in the process. The Pistons got off to a 13-2 run, forcing Adelman to burn a timeout with about 7 minutes left in the game so that he could bring back the starters. The Pistons cut it to an 11 point advantage but the Wolves were able to hold on to the victory.
(What you are not seeing here is an epic JJ Barea rant. He deserves one, but I’m going to check in with Al on how he feels about a full write-up dedicated to this.)
Final score, 114-101 – with the win moving the Pups record to 31-30 on the season.
Three Stars of the Game
- Kevin Love – 28 & 14 and a nice game shooting (10-18 from the field)
- Kevin Martin – Had it going early and opened this game up for the Wolves
- Ricky Rubio – Closed in a triple-double with 11 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds
- There are two key takeaways from this game from a Wolves’ perspective … what was a laugher of a game became way too close for comfort due to the struggles of the bench yet again. Barea and Dante Cunningham are absolute shadows of themselves and what they are bringing to the team this season vs. what they have in the past.
- The attitude (I’ll keep it PG-rated) of Barea is beyond nauseating. He could save a family from a burning building and find a way to annoy me at this point. Fair? Maybe not. Deserved? I think so.