Timberwolves 110, Spurs 91: Sure…

Oklahoma City Thunder v San Antonio Spurs - Game FiveVery little of what happened at Target Center on Tuesday night made much sense.

San Antonio wasn’t supposed to make a trip to Minnesota this season; this game was supposed to have happened in Mexico City way back on December 4th. That night, a fire started in an elevator shaft, smoke filled the arena, and the whole thing was called off, rescheduled for some random night in April, which turned out to be last night.

So in the make-up game, the shorthanded Timberwolves, missing Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin, Shabazz Muhammad and Chase Budinger, eviscerated the Tony Parker-less San Antonio Spurs. Minnesota took an 8-point lead at the end of the 1st quarter and never allowed the visitors any closer than that for the rest of the night. At one point, the Wolves’ lead was a mind-boggling 28 points (at the 8:19 mark of the 3rd quarter, to be exact). They did these malicious deeds to a Spurs team who came into the night sporting the best overall record in the Western Conference (60-17) and a 27-4 record since February 1st. Sure, Tony Parker was out, but over the past two seasons, Pop’s bunch still wins at a .750 clip (21-7) when their All-Star point guard sits.

The Wolves’ own point guard, Ricky Rubio, was assertive from the get-go, aggressively looking for his own shot (huh?), knocking down midrange jumpers (what?), finishing strong at the rim (really?) and even executing a running sky hook early in the 3rd quarter (the HELL you say?). Yes. He took 17 shots, just the 8th time in 175 career games he’s eclipsed 15 field goal attempts. He made 10 of those 17, the first time he’s reached double digits in the “field goals made” column. All 10 makes came in the restricted area (5-of-7 shooting) or on midrange jumpers (5-of-7 shooting), the two areas on the floor he couldn’t buy a bucket during the first half of the season. All against the Spurs, owners of the 4th-best defensive rating in the league.


When Minnesota reached their peak (the aforementioned 28-point lead), Kevin Love, the center of the Wolves’ offensive universe, the driving force behind almost all of their successes, was 2-of-10 from the floor with 7 points. So, the most heavily relied-upon offensive player in the league had a subpar first 28 minutes against the San Antonio juggernaut, and Minnesota still led by nearly 30 points?


Love also committed a silly faux pas at the end of the 3rd quarter, failing to hold the ball for the absolute final shot, draining the clock so the Spurs wouldn’t get another opportunity to score. He chucked up a contested three with 13 seconds to go… made it… and was fouled. He finished the four point play at the free throw line, having dodged the negative consequences for what he’d done.


Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, earning extended playing time due to all the injuries put the ball on the floor and drove on three separate occasions… and something good happened two of the three times. TWO out of THREE! Only once did LRMAM allow a soccer match to break out when he lost his handle on the ball, and everyone got to take a turn kicking it. Usually, the good-to-bad ratio is more like one out of ten. But tonight, LRMAM handled like Magic Johnson and finished like Elgin Baylor.


J.J. Barea, spearheading the Wolves’ second unit as usual, had a rough evening, shooting 3-of-9 from the field and committing 4 turnovers. For a good chunk of the fourth quarter he shared the floor with Hummel, Mbah a Moute, Cunningham and Turiaf, and the resulting offensive sets were ugly enough to make a blind man flinch. Yet he much-maligned Minnesota bench, among the worst in the NBA this season, held their own against San Antonio’s reserves, the best group of backups in the league. Mbah a Moute, Barea, Hummel and ‘Ham were a combined +2.


At halftime, Zach asked me to make him a sandwich, because I am the low man on the totem pole, and that’s my lot in life. I did the best he could, considering the ingredients available on the media room snack table, but he called it “disgusting” anyway. Like a potato chip – M&M sandwich could possibly be disgusting.



The final shooting lines for each team were remarkably similar… which doesn’t seem to make any sense at all, because the Wolves ran away with the victory. San Antonio’s shooting splits were 44/24/60, Minnesota’s 46/33/81. Both teams turned the ball over 16 times. The only appreciable difference was on the glass; the Wolves outrebounded the Spurs 52-to-36, but the Spurs still held the advantage in second chance points (11 to 9), fastbreak points (23 to 16) and points in the paint (52 to 46). The Wolves won by 19 anyway.


For the 39-38 Wolves, this season has been nothing but 77 flukes, a parade of alternating good and bad luck and random bounces, but now the team’s true nature is manifesting itself. In a span of 5 days, Minnesota has knocked off Miami (on the road) and San Antonio (at home), two franchises responsible for 5 of the past 9 NBA titles. For much of the year, they’ve been wolves in sheep’s clothing, but now, they’re finally hunting like they were meant to. Rest assured, next season, they’ll be ready to take the next step, now that they’ve proven to be on par with the sport’s elite teams. In 2014-15, the Minnesota Timberwolves will be title contenders.

For sure…

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5 Responsesso far.

  1. Pimpbot3000 says:

    It just goes to show, if you want to compete with the best in the NBA, you have to have the threat of a shot blocker to anchor your defense.

    I can’t think of any top teams that don’t protect the rim.

    If they can put egos aside and mix Love and Pek in with Turiaf/Dieng so that they always have a shotblocker with them (which would mean Pek off the bench), I think the Wolves would be a team more capable of doing something in the playoffs.

  2. Nick says:

    The inconsistency with this team is so frustrating!
    This season we have managed to beat every team that would be in the playoffs right now except for the raptors, clippers, and rockets(Should have beaten the clippers). Yet we manage to get beat by a multitude of bad teams when we just look like we arent trying!

    I am frustrated, We should be a playoff team

  3. Óskar says:

    Love the tag

  4. farnorth says:

    I am really curious to see what our bench looks like next year.

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