Damn Thing Done: Timberwolves 114-101 over the Pistons

Following an embarrassing home loss to a team they should have beat, the Knicks, the Timberwolves were faced with an opportunity to get back on the right track against the Pistons. In order to do this, the team had to put that loss behind them and take care of business. It was a loss that everyone seemed to agree on: that is was bad but they couldn’t dwell on it. What’s funny is that implies a focus that they didn’t show coming into that game, but would need in order to avoid repeating history. The good news is that they did.

It showed on the court and the way they ripped out to an early lead, aided by some terrible missed baskets by the Pistons that washed away a few of their own that were gimmes. It seemed like the Timberwolves’ mediocre was still going to be better than the Pistons’ and they wound up with a 39-21 lead after one. They continued to roll in the second quarter, too. Looking ahead to the second half of the game felt like those quarters would be a mere formality considering they held a sizeable lead of 66-45.

More of the same happened in the third quarter: the Timberwolves’ starters rolled as the Pistons were still trying to figure out how to stop open layups in the halfcourt. It was a perplexing defensive year, I mean, night for the Pistons as they once sent a double team to Ricky Rubio as he prepared to launch a three, which he ultimately didn’t, but really? I could understand defending the pass, but he was clearly going to be shooting. 28 point lead and I thought of heading home early.

But I forgot that you can’t do that with this team. Adelman said after the game that he wasn’t going to tear down the entire game over the first six minutes of the fourth quarter, but it was enough for him to have to send the starters back in to clean up the bench’s mess after they lost half of a 31-point lead. Talk about brutal. It may have been more beneficial to rest the starters in the last few minutes of the third and have them come in the fourth to put the game away for good and make it so the reserves couldn’t do any damage. Yet, it all still worked out in the end anyway and the Timberwolves still won by 13.

Adelman addressed the concern after the game about the Timberwolves needing the discipline and in-game awareness when they’re up by 20+ points and not trying to be heroes and do too much. There was one play in particular that he felt Rubio rushed and wound up flinging a pass out of bounds instead of using the clock. This completely escaped me and Adelman’s abilities to pick up on these things usually cause me to give him the benefit of the doubt, in case you were wondering.

Kevin Love was still brilliant with 28 points, 14 rebounds and five rebounds. Kevin Martin added 22 points of his own and Nikola Pekovic just missed the double-double (17 points, nine rebounds.) Greg Monroe led the Pistons with 20 points and 15 rebounds. Josh Smith, whose shot selection is even more glorious in person, finished with 13 points, but it took him 14 shots to get there. Brandon Jennings put up 17-5-5 and was less of the problem than some others. In  fact, Pistons starters shot a combined 40.6 percent.

Anyway, good, easy win for the Timberwolves, which is just what they needed after Wednesday. Timberwolves host the Raptors on Sunday.

A complete 180; Wolves win 116-105

Minnesota Timberwolves' Anthony Randolph (15) Is

Just for tonight, Randolph fulfilled his potential

The 180 I’m referring to doesn’t just relate to the result. Tonight’s tilt offered a number of different aspects that the Wolves were unable to pull off last night against the Lakers.

Let’s start with Kevin Love. Against the Lakers’ heavy-hitting frontline, Love had a tough time getting anything going inside. Sure the refs ate their whistles a lot of the time, but they did indeed match his intensity and hustle — he couldn’t make shots either — which is required to do against such a beastly presence inside. It’s pretty adamant that the Pistons lack the depth inside to contain such a large mass of manliness and tonight only proved that. Chalk up yet another 20-20 for Senor Amor, as he was the driving force to tonight’s victory.

Another reason for tonight’s complete 180 comes from the point guard play. Last night, neither Luke Ridnour or Jonny Flynn came to play; they looked flat and just out there in the emotion of the game. Tonight, they made plays, simply put. Ridnour was firing the ball at a perfect clip, going 5-of-5 from the field for 15 points. He only dished out one assist, but that’s where Flynn comes in. If I told you that Flynn had 14 assists and only two turnovers, would you believe me? If I would’ve told you this 1-2 months ago, would you have tried to hunt me down with a vengeance? Flynn played one of the best games I’ve ever seen in his young career. And although some may think he still looks like a blind squirrel out there, he looks more comfortable in the offense and understands that his role isn’t to score; it’s to set teammates up and make the best decision possible. He did that tonight.

Along with Flynn’s exquisite play, the reserves made a complete turnaround. Anthony Randolph, Lazar Hayward and Anthony Tolliver stepped into their roles and commanded this game. In the second quarter, Randolph took matters into his own hands, charging the lane and drawing all sorts of contact. His defense is still suspect but when you nearly put up a 20-10 line off the bench, who cares? Especially in the flow of this type of game. What I particularly love about Randolph’s game is his aggressiveness. He attacks loose balls and then puts that thing on the floor and flies down court like some quick-handling guard. If his jumper starts to develop and he doesn’t look so bewildered on defense, we could’ve pulled off the trade of the century.

With Flynn and Randolph anchoring the reserve squad, Tolliver and Hayward both fit in well. They both played to the flow of the game and never showed any real weakness, or ever tried to force anything to happen. They sat back, let Flynn and Randolph work their games and were there if all else broke down.

Nearly everything was different about this game. Nearly. It’s obvious that our very own Michael Beasley is seriously struggling. He’s reminding me an awful lot of a black hole; whenever the ball swings his way, no one should count on getting it back. Usually the remedy to a cold shooting touch would be putting yourself in better positions to make high-percentage shots. Instead, Beasley’s been fixing to settle for off-balanced jumpers from beyond the arc. Even when he attacks the hoop it hasn’t looked nearly as smooth as it was earlier this year. There’s no doubt that the man has some maturing to do but there’s also no doubt that he needs to produce at a more efficient rate if he indeed is the scoring threat we thought he was.

This was a big win. Road wins are damn-near impossible to come by, so this was a real treat. (Quick side note: The Detroit Pistons are nearly a more forsaken team than the Wolves. Outside of Greg Monroe and possible Rodney Stuckey, this team has no real core to ride into a new era. A disgruntled Rip Hamilton, an injury-riddled Tayshaun Prince and a severely overweight Charlie Villanueva are no where close to an answer in D-Town. It’s truly a shame that the city, and it’s sports teams, are crumbling before our eyes.)

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