There’s a new attitude gleaming from the entire Wolves organization. Prior to the All-Star Break, hope was all but lost on making the Western Conference playoffs and looming personnel decisions like the trade deadline and Kevin Love’s status braced headlines from blogs and Twitter pages across the entire web.
But now, as winners of five out of the past six contests after the All-Star game, the Wolves’ playoff dreams are beginning to look a tad more realistic, and everything couldn’t be gelling as well as it is at a better time than now.
Tonight the Wolves got both Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic back from injury, giving the Wolves an enormous boost. Those two helped lift the Wolves to a solid win in Sacramento by combining for 46 points. Martin was the hot-hand to begin with, scoring 14 in the first, while Pekovic gave Boogie Cousins a healthy dose down low as well. The two’s return couldn’t have been better planned, considering Kevin Love had a bit of an off-night. He started awfully slow but Love regained form in the second half and was a big reason why the Wolves pulled ahead in the third and sealed the game well before the clock hit zero.
The starters were lethal offensively but struggled to contain Rudy Gay at the other end. Gay came up big dropping 24 points in an efficient performance (Shocker). And then Cousins and Isaiah Thomas both had themselves terrific second halves scoring wise. But the Kings, as they normally do, committed way too many turnovers, and when the Wolves are forcing their opponent’s hand with pressure on the perimeter, mistakes will be made. The Kings had 19 turnovers, while the Wolves capitalized by scoring 27 points off turnovers thanks to the leaking Corey Brewer and company.
The Wolves have delved into a different mode we’ve never really seen before. For the first time in years, they seemed to have figured out how to link consecutive, quality games by creating and staying true to their own special brand of basketball. Winning teams have recipes for their success; Pacers play suffocating defense; Heat play a well spaced-out floor on the offensive end; Lakers play the triangle (Well, not so much); Suns run a fast-paced game to keep the opponent on their heels all night. It’s still difficult to pin exactly what the Wolves have been able to do over this winning stretch because it’s not exactly consistent with what they’ve ever done under Rick Adelman before. But as long as Love keeps playing out of his mind, Brewer and Ricky Rubio provide steady, stout perimeter defense, Martin and Pekovic continue to be role scorers putting up anywhere from 16-24 per game each and the bench keeps up their hard-played minutes, I like our chances moving forward even if it will be a constant, difficult uphill climb until the end.
It’s an exciting brand of basketball the Wolves are playing, and it was certainly on display tonight in Sacramento. Now all that’s left to do is play consistently night-to-night and keep racking up the wins. Next up: The Nuggest in Denver on Monday night.