For the second consecutive game I’ve attended at the Target Center (I was there for Saturday’s match-up with Boston as well), the Wolves obliterated a struggling Eastern Conference opponent last night, knocking off the Brooklyn Nets 111-81, and somehow that score seems closer than the game.
Let’s be clear about two things: First, the Nets are awful right now. Second, that doesn’t necessarily take away from what Minnesota accomplished.
There are a lot of problems in Brooklyn, and a lot of them seem to be stemming from the coaching staff. The Nets ran much of their offense through Paul Pierce and Andre Blatche, and three years ago, that would have been half of a good idea. Joe Johnson got a lot of touches and baskets in the second and third quarters, but by the time he had heated up, the Wolves were up by 20 or more. If you want to make some NBA bets, book it on sportsbettingdime.com
This is not what Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce signed up for when they joined this squad. Admittedly, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Andrei Kirilenko are hurt (as is Jason Terry, but believe me: I watched Boston last year, and he isn’t helping this team), but the Nets’ offense was uncomfortable and robotic last night. Most of it was built around pick-and-rolls on one side of the court, as well as something that resembled the Triangle. If a play started on one side of the court, it was incredibly unlikely to travel to the other side. This stagnant, stiff offense allowed the Wolves to get their hands in passing lanes, either to steal the ball or deflect it which led to a lot of throwaways.
Minnesota, meanwhile, executed…sufficiently. The Wolves didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (41.2 percent to Brooklyn’s 39.7), but they got an absurd amount of second-chance opportunities with 17 offensive rebounds. In addition, they scored 17 fast break points and 22 points on Brooklyn’s 20 turnovers.
One of the fun things about this season, however, has been how little explanation some of these wins have needed. In a lot of games in 2013-14, the Wolves are just simply better than their opponent. It’s a nice change.
- Another exercise in “ASDFKJDFSKDF Kevin Love stat lines”: 17 points, 16 points in 28 minutes. Love very well might have recorded another 20-20 game if he had played the fourth quarter, but none of the starters for either squad played in the final frame.
- Cut Robbie Hummel some slack for that 1-for-8 shooting performance from 3-point range. His shots were almost all corner 3-point attempts, which are usually nice for him. He just hit a cold spell in the fourth quarter that he couldn’t shake.
- I was at the game with my dad, and I mentioned how much I missed Rubio-to-Derrick Williams alley-oops. Williams entered the game late in the third quarter, and Rubio ALMOST connected with him, but Williams flubbed the catch before recovering and laying the ball in. In the fourth, Barea and Williams got out on a fast break, and Williams climbed the stairs to throw down a monster slam, but nothing was the same. Drake knows.
- The Wolves played a Blurred Lines parody starring Nikola Pekovic at one point which went completely over my head until someone explained it to me. I’m old, shut up.
- Corey Brewer got a wide open 3-point look in the corner on Minnesota’s first possession, and that seemed to spark him from downtown, as he finished 3-for-6 and tallied 15 points.
- Kevin Garnett got: Two (2) standing ovations, eight (8) points, one (1) flagrant foul and one (1) technical. Both the technical and the flagrant came right on top of each other and seemed to stem from frustration more than anything (it’s hard to blame him). But Love’s response was pretty priceless: “That’s kind of vintage KG, just tried to get himself going, himself into the right mind frame. I just didn’t really care.”
After resting their starters for the entire fourth quarter, one would hope the Wolves will be somewhat fresh for their match-up with Houston tonight. I won’t be in attendance though, so maybe there is cause for concern.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.