After a few nights off, the Timberwolves returned to action on Friday night to take on the Bobcats in Charlotte. Minnesota entered the game with a 32-31 record, while Charlotte was coming in off of a win Wednesday night in Washington, moving their record to 31-34 on the year. The Bobcats are currently in the seven seed position in the Eastern Conference playoffs and won seven games in a row at home. What happened … well, you probably saw the title of the article?
The Pups’ starting lineup: Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love, and Pekovic. The Bobcats opened up with Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Josh McRoberts, and ex-Pup Al Jefferson.
In a somewhat slow start to the game, aided by a “clear path” review by the refs, the Bobcats took an 8-7 lead into the game’s first timeout with about 8.5 minutes left in the 1st quarter. Gerald Henderson had all 8 points for the Bobcats, allowing me to daydream about this past offseason one more time. I have always liked Henderson’s game and thought he would be a good fit for the Wolves.
Coming out of the first timeout, it looked like both teams decided to wake up and unofficially start playing real NBA basketball. Kevin Martin and Kevin Love led the way for the Wolves in the quarter. After the timeout, MKG and Big Al stood out for the Bobcats and balancing out the Kevin’s efforts. At the end of the 1st quarter, the teams were tied at 33-33.
Wholesale lineup changes for Adelman’s club to start out the 2nd quarter and let’s just say that this didn’t start or end well. I’m not sure what it is going to take to move away from this outside of Flip taking over as coach. Dear lord … not only did the rotation not work, but Adelman refused to burn a timeout, waiting for the official’s timeout before reinserting Love and Nikola Pekovic into the game. However, the damage was done, as the Bobcats led 50-41.
Despite having many of the starters back in, the Wolves fell further in the hole, 59-43. So, to recap what happened here; backups fell behind double digits and when the wholesale changes back to the starting lineup took place, those players were all cooled off and out of the flow of the game. What team uses this strategy successfully?! This actually came off my keyboard during the 2nd quarter misery:
While I know this will burn me a year from now, I’m completely OK with Adelman walking away in the offseason.
— john flesta(@jflesta) March 15, 2014
I’m sadly not overstating this, while completely realizing the likelihood that the alternative is better is about one in ten. At the half, the Bobcats held a 65-53 advantage. Here are a few thoughts going into the locker room:
- At the half, the best +/- from the Wolves’ bench was a -11 from LRMAM.
- Gary Neal, en fuego. 5-7 from the field for 16 points. Coincidentally, much of his playing time was against … you guessed it, the Wolves’ bench.
The Pups started the 3rd quarter 0-5 from the field and their body language to start the half was poor. Adelman may have noticed this and took an early timeout, with just over two minutes gone by and the team down 67-53. Gorgui Dieng checked in for a struggling Pekovic and Big Al took him to school early on a pump fake. Dieng tried to make up for the lost step but was called for a goaltend. The rookie spent much of the next few minutes in Jekyll and Hyde mode with positive and negative plays up and down the court. This ties in nicely with a request for PT for the rookies the rest of the way. Please and thank you.
The body language for the Wolves got progressively worse as the 3rd quarter rolled on. As the teams entered the final frame, the Bobcats held a 13 point lead, 88-75. It could have been worse, but Chris Douglas-Roberts couldn’t get a made 35 foot three pointer out of his hands in time.
As the 4th quarter started, the Wolves official word on Pekovic was a sore ankle and his return was questionable. Frankly, it probably didn’t matter. The Wolves couldn’t get the Bobcats’ lead under 10 points and much of the 4th quarter felt like it was just going through the motions. Final score, 105-93 – moving the Wolves back to .500 on the season.
Three Stars of the Game
- Al Jefferson – 25 & 16 for the ex-Pup
- Gary Neal – Lights out shooting when it mattered, finishing with 19 points in 25 minutes
- Wolves Twitter – No one on the Wolves roster deserves the slot, and honestly, there isn’t anyone else on the Bobcats either. So thanks to Wolves Twitter for keeping tonight’s game semi-interesting.
- Dave Benz pointed this out late in the game, but the Wolves were outrebounded 54-35 in tonight’s game. When is the last time it was THAT bad with this team?!
- All eyes should probably stay on Pek’s injury and if he will have to miss any more time over the next week or so. With the playoffs unofficially, officially out of sight and mind, do the Wolves turn overly cautious with the big man (and his contract)?