The Timberwolves appeared sluggish throughout the first half of Tuesday night’s home stand against Milwaukee. Fortunately for Minnesota, the Wolves rebounded after halftime and played a second half much stronger than their opponents. Coming out on top of the 112-101 final score, the Timberwolves bagged their 32nd win of the season. Kevin Love led with 27 points and 10 rebounds, followed by Kevin Martin with 26 points. Dante Cunningham and JJ Barea came off the bench for a total of 28 points.
Incredibly, the Bucks didn’t miss a single shot until the 4:35 mark of the first quarter, making all 12 of their first attempts. Not surprisingly after those numbers, the Wolves trailed by five going into Q2.
“I thought [the Bucks] were going to set some sort of record,” said Minnesota head coach Rick Adelman after the game.
Minnesota shot 46 percent in the second quarter, but the Bucks continued to drop almost 60 percent of their shots. Defensively, the Wolves just weren’t on target. Barea came off the bench and added the spark and aggressiveness that his team needed. Barea’s tenacity and better-than-average shooting, combined with Martin’s offense, kept Minny in the game during the first half.
“I love it. I miss it,” Barea said. “I miss playing off the ball a little bit, especially with Ricky. When I’m making shots, it’s great for our team.”
According to Adelman, the locker room speech at halftime revolved around defense. “[In the first half] we shared the wealth,” Adelman said. “Every starter [for Milwaukee] had a basket in the first six minutes of the game. We were too soft. They made shots, but we let them go wherever they wanted to go.”
Love scored only nine points in the first half, but the All-Star came alive in the third quarter, hitting two three-point buckets and a jump shot and grabbing a couple rebounds. Love added another three-point shot and 11 total points in the fourth.
Ricky Rubio also delivered a strong performance for Minnesota, grabbing 11 points, 10 assists and three steals. Rubio has played well the last few games, and his confidence in shooting the ball seems to finally be increasing. The starting PG shared his minutes a bit with Barea, but Adelman played the two in the same lineup several times, as well.
“J.J.’s a great scorer and sometimes he needs to play the (shooting guard),” Rubio said. [...] I like playing with him. He made shots today and he played a lot.”
Milwaukee PG Brandon Knight led his team with 21 points, but in the end it wasn’t enough to regain the lead against Minnesota. The Bucks struggled to keep up after halftime, and their shots didn’t fall the way they did in the first. On the evening, the Wolves shot 48 percent to the Bucks’ 52. While the 13-win team certainly gave a valiant effort during 75 percent of the contest, the fourth quarter proved Minnesota the better team.
Tuesday’s victory marked the first time Minnesota has won 32 games in a single season since 2006-2007, when the squad notched the same number. The squad will attempt Win #33 when it faces Al Jefferson and the Charlotte Bobcats on the road Friday. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.. Fans can view the game on Fox Sports North.