Recap – Timberwolves 111, Nets 81

Friday night's "Battle of the Kevin's" at Target Center (Photo credit: Timberwolves.com)

Friday night’s “Battle of the Kevin’s” at Target Center
(Photo credit: Timberwolves.com)

The Timberwolves were back on the Target Center floor Friday night and welcomed in a few familiar faces, as Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko returned to Minnesota with their Brooklyn Nets teammates.  Kirilenko was ruled out because of another problem with his back, while the Nets were also missing Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, and Jason Terry.  It hasn’t been a fun start to the season for Nets fans, that’s for sure.

There were no surprises or changes in the Pups’ starting five – Mr. Selena Gomez (I kid), Martin, Brewer, Love, and Pekovic.  The Nets threw out Shaun Livingston (who has been quite the story), Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, KG, and Reggie Evans.

Game Summary

Despite falling way behind (2-0), the Timberwolves pulled out Friday night’s game against a beaten down Brooklyn Nets team.  With an 11-6 lead going into the first timeout of the game, the Wolves woke up and played lights out basketball for the rest of the night.  This was a laugher by midway through the third quarter, with the Wolves winning by a cool 30 points.

First Half 

You really couldn’t ask for a better storybook opening, as KG won the tap and posted up Kevin Love in the paint.  He quickly turned around and hit the short jumper to give the Nets the 2-0 lead.  That concludes all Nets highlights from the first half, as the Timberwolves poured it on.  Despite two quick fouls and a trip to the bench for Ricky Rubio, the Pups were able to jump on the Nets early and often.  The game got off to a slow start offensively, as the Wolves held an 11-6 lead going into the first timeout of the game … after six-plus minutes of action.

At the end of the 1st quarter, the Wolves held a 30-14 lead, as Love hit a short jumper at the buzzer after JJ Barea drove to the basked as the clock wound down, lost control of the ball and flipped it behind his back, only to find Love’s hands.  Love finished the quarter with 9 points and 11 rebounds.  Again, we’re talking about the 1st quarter only.

The good times continued to roll for the Pups throughout much of the 2nd quarter.  Barea and Rubio both played well and ran Adelman’s offense.  Love and Nikola Pekovic were dominant in the paint.  Had the Wolves’ wings shot the ball a little bit better, the game would have looked even worse than the halftime score would suggest.  At the break, the Wolves held a 57-37 advantage at halftime.

Here are a few additional notes at half-time:

  • Kevin Martin’s shooting is a little off this past week.  At halftime, Martin was 2-11 from the field for 6 points
  • Corey Brewer also put up 11 shots in the first half, including 5 three pointers.  Honestly, that might be a bit too much
  • KG finished the half with 6 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block – old-school KG in the house!

Second Half

We’re going to make this really easy – the Nets never made the game interesting and the Wolves blew away Brooklyn.  With the starters playing throughout the 4th quarter – more on this later – the Pups simply ran away.  They outscored the Nets 33-21 in the quarter and took a 90-58 lead into the 4th quarter.

After some Twitter pleading, Adelman finally went to his bench (read: doghouse) and put in Derrick Williams, Alexey Shved, and company.  Gorgui Dieng looked the most promising in the 4th quarter, blocking three shots and active on the offensive end of the floor as well (5 points & 3 rebounds).  The final score in this monstrosity of a game was 111-81.

Three Stars of the Game

  1. Kevin Love – Dominant on the boards, Love finished with 17 and 16 in only 28 minutes of action.
  2. Nikola Pekovic – 15 & 7 for the big man, who really dominated the paint early and often.
  3. Kevin Garnett – This should go to Brewer, but just in case this is KG’s last game at Target Center, his 8 & 8 put him in our “Three Stars”.

Need another reason, here you go:

Key Takeaways

  • The Nets had a lot of injuries, but that was an effortless showing.  Jason Kidd probably won’t be fired this season, but he probably deserves to be.  This team has “Washington Redskins” written all over it – big contracts, no continuity … changes every single season.
  • Hopefully Kevin Martin’s shooting comes back real soon … as in, tomorrow in Houston soon.
  • The rest the starters received tonight should bode well for tomorrow’s game – thankfully they didn’t have to play big minutes going into a relatively big game tomorrow night (on NBA TV).

Preview: T’wolves at Celtics

Setting the stage

Photo Credit: Hoopedia

The T’wolves come into Wednesday’s game with a little bit of momentum, having won their last two games, including last night’s blowout in Philadelphia.  The ease of last night’s win allowed Coach Adelman to limit the amount of minutes Kevin Love and other starters had to endure and potentially leaves them with a bit more bounce in their step for tonight’s match-up in Boston.

Minnesota continues to play very strong team defense and is currently ranked fourth in the league in points allowed per game (92.3).  The team showed some life last night on the offensive end finally, putting up 105 points – which included 65 by halftime from the regular rotation.  Hopefully, some of that performance carries over to the TD Garden this evening; most specifically the performance the team received from Josh Howard last night (16 & 10) as he will match-up with Pierce on the floor given Andrei Kirilenko’s continued absence.

The bad news for the Pups is that Rajon Rondo returns from his two game suspension and is “probably” ready to get back into the action.  As their record suggests (9-8), the Celtics have been pretty average so far this season.  They come into the game 15th in the league in scoring at 97.5 ppg.  Somewhat surprisingly, the team is playing average to below average defense, allowing 97.9 ppg which is good for 17th in the league.  An area we can expect the Twolves to exploit tonight against the Celtics is on the boards, as our opponent comes in dead last in the league at 37.4 rpg.

I’ve gone far enough without mentioning that this is one of two times each season that the Twolves and their fans get to see KG up close and in direct competition with his former team.  I don’t think we need to go down the accolades.  In fact, I’m a little perturbed to the fact that when you now search for Kevin Garnett on Google Images, the first three pages has him wearing a Celtics uniform.  It will be good to see KG on the floor playing his former team once again and maybe we’ll get to see/hear a profanity laced tirade directed at one of the current Pups (Stiemsma is the odds on favorite here, right?).

Player to watch

Rajon Rondo – As mentioned earlier, Rondo is probably chomping at the bit to get back onto the court following his suspension.  What better way for a speedy PG to get readjusted than to face one of the weaker defensive teams in the league at PG.  Ridnour will likely get the start, but you can see how and why it makes sense to see JJ Barea playing extended minutes tonight to try and contain Rondo.  Rajon leads the league in assists per game with a 12.9 average, while also averaging the same in points.

Match-up to watch

Love vs. KG.  While KG has been playing Center for the Celtics, I can’t imagine that Doc Rivers will have him guarding Pekovic when Brandon Bass is on the floor with him.  The past superstar vs. the present.  Love comes into the game dominating the boards since his return (14.6 rpg), while KG is only averaging 7.4 rpg.  To be fair, Doc Rivers is limiting KG’s minutes as best he can early on this season, playing him under 30 mpg.  It will be interesting to see these two match-up again and who will come out on top.

Predictions

We’ll see if the Twolves can win back to back games on the East coast.  This will be a tough test however, as the Celtics come into the game with a few days rest having not played since this past Saturday.

Final score prediction: Boston 91, ‘Sota 86

Three stars of the game predictions:

  1. Rajon Rondo
  2. Kevin Love
  3. Paul Pierce

Let’s go Wolves!