The Timberwolves entered Friday night’s game at 37-37 on the season, but only 15-22 on the road. The Miami Heat have pulled into virtual tie with the Indiana Pacers for the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference over the past week and came into Friday’s game with a 30-6 home record.
There were a boatload of injuries to report going into tonight’s game. For the Wolves, Nikola Pekovic (ankle) and Kevin Marin (sore right foot) were unavailable. The Heat were without Dwyane Wade and Greg Oden. Adelman sent out Rubio, Barea, Brewer, Love, and Dieng to start the game. The Heat countered with Mario Chalmers, Toney Douglas, LeBron James, Udonis Haslem, and Chris Bosh.
Fast start for both teams who flew up and down the court for the majority of the first six minutes of the quarter and heading into the first timeout. The Heat held a 16-12 lead going into the break as both teams displayed a balanced attack on offense and defense. It is worth noting that Gorgui Dieng stood out once again with four buckets early and strong effort on both ends of the floor. (In case you missed the article from earlier this week, we talked about Dieng’s emergence in recent weeks.)
At the end of the 1st quarter, the Heat held a 29-24 lead. The Wolves were able to cut a 10 point lead in half in the final few minutes of the quarter. However, it could have been worse for the Heat, as the Wolves struggled from three point range (0-4) and free throw line (2-7) in the quarter.
Minnesota continued their strong play in the beginning of the 2nd quarter, taking a three point lead with a little over five minutes to play in the half. Unfortunately for Pups fans, the Heat flipped the switch and went on a 13-0 run to retake a 10 point lead, 52-42. Coming out of a timeout, the Wolves ripped off 10 in a row to tie the game at 52 and did enough to stop LeBron at the buzzer. Here are a few halftime thoughts:
- Very nice flow to the game and nice to see the Wolves not fold their hand when they went down by 10 points (either time)
- Shabazz Muhammad injured his knee in the first half and would not return to action
- Another strong performance from Dieng, but a surprisingly strong performance from Chase Budinger
Kevin Love came to life about midway through the 3rd quarter, scoring 8 straight points for the Wolves and helping them build a 70-63 lead. That run seemed to wake up LeBron a bit as he went on his own little run, scoring 12 points in a row for his team. At the end of the 3rd quarter, the Wolves held a 77-75 lead. It could have been even more damaging as LeBron missed a three pointer at the buzzer and that would have very likely caused the arena to explode.
A returning from injury Ray Allen apparently needed a few quarters to get his legs under him, as the lethal shooter hit back-to-back three pointers to tie the game at 82 with under 9 minutes to go. Combined with his old Sonics counterpart (Rashard Lewis) the Heat took a 1 point lead before JJ Barea and Budinger hit back-to-back three pointers of their own to give the Wolves their own 5 point lead.
The remainder of the 4th quarter can be best described as “chaos”. Both teams would go on runs, then both teams would stink up the gym for 90 seconds. With the game tied at 97 and just a few ticks on the clock, Love got a three pointer off as time expired, only to see it go in and out.
In overtime, the teams continued to trade baskets and the lead. Chase Budinger nailed a three pointed to give the Wolves a 107-106 lead and forced the Heat to take a timeout with 1:19 left to play. After a few no-calls from the referees, a foul was called on the Wolves as Chalmers was sent to the line for two free throws to potentially win the game. He missed the first and made the second to tie the game at 109. Once again, the Wolves went to Kevin Love as time expired and once again the shot clanged off the rim to send the game to double overtime.
Fast forward a few minutes … with 30 seconds left in double overtime, Love had another opportunity and nailed a three pointer to give the Wolves a 119-117 lead. JJ Barea reentered the game and subsequently hit two free throws to give the Wolves a 121-118 lead. Less than two seconds later (of playing time), Chris Bosh hit another three pointer to tie the game at 121. After bobbling the ball, Love threw up a pass to Corey Brewer around the rim and he was fouled on the shot attempt to go to the line. Brewer subsequently hit 1 of 2 and this game was destined to end no matter what happened in the 1.4 seconds left on the clock. Ray Allen wound up with the last shot of the game and missed a fall away jumper, giving the Wolves the 122-121 win in Miami!
Three Stars of the Game
- Chase Budinger – This one goes to Budinger who had, by far, his best game of the season; 24 points on 7-9 shooting (5-7 3PT’ers), to go with 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals
- LeBron James – The best player on the planet finished with 34 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, and 1 block
- Ricky Rubio– The Unicorn finished with 13 points and 14 assists
- Honorable mention to Kevin Love with 28 & 11. I still think he is taking too many 3PT FG’s, but he is the clear leader of this team.
- I have no idea why Gorgui Dieng only played 25 minutes tonight. None.
- In a double overtime game, ex-Pup Michael Beasley received a DNP-CD. Amazing.