So … we are back on the game recaps and we’re coming off of two very nice wins at the Target Center for the Twolves (and a personally bias Seahawks win, so a lot of excitement!). The Pups first road game took them to the world’s most famous arena. No surprises in the starting lineup tonight for either team. For the Wolves; Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love, and Pekovic. For the Knicks; Felton, Shumpert, Bargnani, Anthony, and Chandler.
The Pups came out of the gate firing on all cylinders for the third consecutive time, jumping out to a 20+ point advantage in the first quarter. The Knicks didn’t roll over however and slowly made it into an exciting game that wasn’t decided until the final minutes of the fourth quarter. However, good teams win on the road and handle adversity, and that is what we saw signs of last night at MSG from the Wolves.
The Wolves dominated the 1st quarter and it looked like they were going to run the Knicks, and their fans, out of the building early. Carmelo Anthony picked up two quick fouls and had to sit early. This was very similar to the OKC game, as the Knicks had nothing on the offensive end of the floor without Melo, just like OKC showed without Kevin Durant.
One other note that I jotted down from the 1st quarter is that Ricky Rubio must make open jump shots more frequently, particularly of the mid-range variety. That said, almost immediately after he missed a 16 footer, Rubio picked off a pass and drove in for an open layup. You can’t stay mad at Ricky Rubio, he makes it impossible. At the end of the 1st, the Twolves held a 40-19 advantage!
The Knicks outscored the Wolves in the 2nd quarter, 30-24. This was largely due to sloppy play from the Wolves and not playing within Adelman’s offensive system. Derrick Williams had a decent stretch of minutes in the quarter on both ends of the floor. If he can keep this up, the Wolves are going to be very dangerous. At the half, the Wolves still held a respectable, double-digit lead – 64-49.
- When the Wolves stay in the system, they have all of the pieces to make beautiful basketball
- Kevin Love will be “the best PF in the game” to the pundits by Christmas – 18, 7, and 3 at the half and a few spectacular outlet passes
- Wing play has been phenomenal early on in the season … Thank you Kevin Martin & Corey Brewer!
Once again, the Wolves started the 3rd quarter hot, building their lead back up to 20 points and taking a 71-51 lead. However, the Knicks weren’t finished, as Melo, Metta World Peace, and Raymond Felton helped the home team scratch back into it. Felton sliced through the middle of the paint about half way through the 3rd quarter and it started a small run for the team, bringing the crowd back into the game.
One thing that the Wolves moved away from in the 3rd quarter was feeding Kevin Martin the ball – who was making jump shots and getting to the line earlier in the game. It was almost like the team read my notes in the timeout as Martin scored two buckets towards the end of the quarter to reestablish a 15 point advantage, 93-78.
The Timberwolves couldn’t buy a basket for a few minutes in the 4th quarter, but the Knicks kept firing away from long range vs. doing anything related to running an offense. Eventually, the Knicks made one last, big run to cut it to a five point advantage for the Wolves, when Adelman finally called a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, the Wolves ran a play to get Love a three point shot. While the shot went in, I really want to see Love play more inside than he has been the last two games. I’m not sure how much of this is by design vs. not, but I’d like to see a little bit more of a post-up game from the team. (I’m nitpicking a 3-0 start by the way.)
Despite cutting the lead to two points, 100-98 with about 5 minutes left in the game, the Wolves took the body blows from the Knicks and withstood them. They closed the game out strong defensively, outscoring the Knicks 9-2 the rest of the way, pulling out the 109-100 victory!
Three Stars of the Game
- Kevin Love – 34, 15, and 5 for Love – welcome back to “Best PF in the NBA” status, we missed you! Added bonus for the Spike Lee trash talk and high-five.
- Kevin Martin – 30 points on 9-12 shooting, 5-5 from 3PT range, and 7-9 from the FT line. Wing play … YES!
- Metta World Peace – I’m actually giving this to MWP despite Melo’s gaudy box score (22 & 17) because his two fouls early were a stomach punch for the team. MWP finished a team high +17 on the floor, finishing with 17 points, 4 rebounds, and solid defense in his 21 minutes of action.
- The Wolves remain undefeated and for only the second time in franchise history, start a season 3-0
- Tough test tonight, as they turn right around and will play in Cleveland Monday night
- I have no idea how the Wolves are getting off to such great starts, but please stay on the same routine for pregame
The rookies didn’t receive any playing time Sunday night, but look for them to play at least a few minutes in Cleveland, given it is the team’s first back to back of the season. I would imagine the largest piece would be Gorgui Dieng’s role on Monday, as Ronnie Turiaf is going to be out for a while.