A solid, fun game like that deserves a punny title, so there’s that. But to get down to business, tonight’s win was exactly what the Wolves were looking for coming out of the All-Star break and now sit with a two-game win streak. #Winning.
As far as I’m concerned, a heavy dose of Kevin Love on offense and an all-around team effort seems to be the winning formula thus far. So after Wednesday’s big win at home over the highly heralded Indiana Pacers, the Wolves took that idea into Utah and came out victorious. And in a big way. Speaking of winning ways, check out this site for NBA odds on the Timberwolves for game-to-game lines and to gauge expectations for them come playoff time.
Kevin Love recorded the first triple-double of his career, despite averaging a double-double over the span of his career so far. Tonight he did it scoring the rock (Typical), sucking up rebounds (Uh-duh!) and dishing out some serious dimes (Wait, whut?!). Believe it or not, Love’s actually become quite a potent option to set up teammates for open looks. It’s his comfortability both inside the paint and beyond the perimeter that gives him that newfound advantage. He gets a wide variety of looks at the basket from all over the court, so if others around him are moving well without the ball, he’ll be able to find them in a split second, passing up an open shot of his own. It’s an aspect of his game that’s really grown over the course of this season and deserves a lot of credit for the overall growth to his game. And let’s not forget that a good amount of his assists come off of Minnesota’s go-to play, The Brewer Outlet. My goodness it’s a thing of beauty.
Now, Love’s 37-12-10 line was the showstopper but it must be known that this was yet another solid team win for the Wolves. Part of that new winning formula is an all-around team effort, which was visibly apparent again tonight.
Ricky Rubio had his second straight game where he looked very comfortable on both ends of the court. He actually ended the game with 15 points on 5-7 shooting. He also had seven assists himself. The assists were a big reason that the entire starting lineup of Love-Rubio-Cunningham-Budinger-Brewer all scored in double digits. Cunningham had one of his better games of the season with 11 and five boards. Then you also have to be fond of how the bench performed, most notably Gorgui Dieng. Scoring major minutes with Ronny Turiaf sitting this one out, Dieng started the game 4-4 with eight points before missing his last shot and also had eight rebounds off the bench, which helped the Wolves dominate the glass 49-34. Dieng had his best game of the season and it’s undoubtedly a confidence builder. I think they’re still looking at Dieng/Shabazz Muhammad as long-term options off the bench, almost as go-to guys off the bench, so a game like that can do wonders toward reaching that goal.
All in all, the Jazz are not a very good team, so some could look at this win as a bit of a given. But as inconsistent as the Wolves have been all season, two straight wins in convincing fashion are a momentum builder without a doubt. Hopefully this new formula will play a part in many games to come. If so, wins are on the horizon as the Wolves battle for that final playoff spot.