Flip Saunders talks with Colin Cowherd

Flip Saunders

Flip Saunders appeared on ESPN radio and spoke with Colin Cowherd about his transition from coach to a front-office position, other teams’ interest in Kevin Love, and how well he slept in his days as an analyst.

Click this link to be taken to the interview. 

Cowherd starts things off cordially by asking Saunders about the difference between being a coach, and working in the front office of an NBA franchise.

You sit up in the stands and you really have no control of what your players do on the floor. It’s then the coaches decision; who to play, what plays to run, and how to guard people, defensively. That becomes the most frustrating thing when switching to the front office.”

“When you’re a coach, you live in the present, you live for today. When you’re in the front office; you live for today but you also have to have an eye on the future.

Not long after than Cowherd got to the good stuff.  He went on to ask Saunders whether he feels “more empowered, or powerless, with a star player.” Needless to mention that Cowherd asked specifically about the Kevin Love situation, you know — that thing.

“Well, I laugh. One, having had, conversations with Kevin –maybe– every week. Having a pretty good relationship with him, you understand where he’s at. There are many things that have been said about the, “Glamour Situations,” but, whereas Kevin said (referring to his recent quote in GQ Magazine); it might not be so glamourous.

“You know good players are going to be wanted. That really comes with the business, so, when you have a player that’s wanted by people; people are going to talk about them because that’s what goes on.”

Cowherd continues talking about Love by asking Saunders; “why hasn’t he (Love) produced more wins with his unbelievable production?”

Kevin has been with a lot of very young players, he’s still only 24-years old. That’s what people don’t understand. He’s still a very young, and talented player. The other thing is, it’s very difficult for a player like Kevin, and the way he plays.

He’s a big player, even though he does shoot the three. Many times players don’t have the ability to carry teams down the stretch. He relies a lot of players, either getting him the ball for a three-point shot or getting him the ball into the post.

So, other players many times, in the fourth-quarter have to help him makes plays. We’re a young team, we’re gettin’ guys that are learning to do that. That’s going to be part of the transition for (Ricky) Rubio.

The final sentence sounded as if it were an admission of confidence. Only speculating, but it sounded as if Saunders believes Rubio is the point guard of the Wolves future. At no point did it seem like Cowherd was insinuating anything Rubio’s way and it was the first mention of his name in the interview.

Two days ago, Minnesota Republican State Representative, Pat Garofalo, tweeted out a controversial opinion. Cowherd asked Saunders about how he deals with those who negatively perceive the NBA without such warrant.

You have to educate the people. When people are educated on what our players do, and how active they are in their community. (Even) Individually, on their own — I know a lot of players go out to hostels and get involved with St. Jude (A Childrens Hospital), that’s a big thing for us this month.

You just have to educate the people and understand that they have to realize that, many times, perception is not reality. We’ve got players that do a lot of positive things in the community.

Cowherd ended the interview by asking if Saunders slept better; as a coach, or as a president, of an NBA team?

As an ESPN Analyst. That’s when we sleep the best. When I can talk to you in the morning and we can talk basketball.

That would be the life, wouldn’t it? Again, you’re able to listen to the interview via ESPN, just click this link.

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.

How the Nuggets nearly came back on Monday

Monday night’s game between the Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves was not for the defense lover in your life. Each team scored 40 points in a quarter once and neither team scored less than 24 in any given quarter while the Timberwolves scored less than 30 in just one. Additionally, Kevin Love notched his 50th double-double of the season as the Timberwovles topped their divisional rivals.

However, this was a game that should never have been in question for the Timberwolves after the way the first three quarters went for them. They led 40-25 after the first; 66-49 at the half; and then 98-83 after three. The fourth figured to be a good time for both teams to get some rest for their starters as the end of the season nears. Yet, the Timberwolves manage to come away with a four point, 132-128 win.

The reason for this is rather simple, yet a tad ironic. The game in which the Timberwolves set the franchise record for free throws made and attempted in a game is the same one that they nearly lost it because they couldn’t make them in the waning minutes of the contest. At the same time, you have to give the Nuggets credit. Not only did they execute their hack-a-wolf strategy to near perfection, but they also got creative in running some plays to get their four three pointers in the final minute that made this such a close game. Let’s take a look and see just how they were able to get those shots off.

Ty Lawson 0:27 Remaining

Lawson one

Judging by my header above, you can probably guess the ball is going to wind up in the hands of Ty Lawson, who is under the basket covered by Corey Brewer. In front of Randy Foye are Kenneth Faried (Who has Kevin Love defending him) stacked in front of him with Kevin Martin directly defending the inbounds pass.

Lawson two

Lawson runs in between Faried and Martin as Wilson Chandler steps to his right to prevent Brewer from running right to Lawson at the elbow and instead force him to follow Lawson’s pass. As a result, Lawson has time to get his feet set and launch a three, which he does sink. Lawson was red-hot on the night, finishing with 31 points, 11 assists and four steals. He really made himself a threat that the Timberwolves had to respect.

Wilson Chandler 0:23 seconds remaining

Chandler II 1

Virtually the same setup here as their previous inbounds play, but for the sake of this play it’s important to note that 1) Lawson is in the headband on the block, oddly covered by Love and Brewer; 2) Faried is just behind Martin; and 3) Chandler is right behind both Martin and Faried.

Chandler II 2

Here Foye gets the ball as Lawson runs towards the three point line, successfully drawing Martin to him, and Chandler simultaneously cuts towards the corner. The Timberwolves are now left scrambling as Brewer is now trying to catch up to Lawson although Martin was right there and they probably should have just switched.

Chandler II 3

Here’s why Martin and Brewer should have switched from the onset: Chandler is now wide open in the corner. It appears Brewer realizes that Martin has already picked up Lawson and that he is also too far away to do anything about Chandler. As for Love he’s trying to check Faried and can’t simply close out on Chandler. Finally, we see Cunningham, making a valiant effort to contest Chandler’s shot by way of around Faried and Love, but he is also far too late to be impactful here. And all Chandler has to do from here is make sure he’s not stepping on the line and hit the open corner three.

Wilson Chandler 0:17 seconds remaining

Chandler I 1

After JJ Barea splits a pair of free throws, the Nuggets get the ball over the halfcourt mark after a timeout. Once again, Lawson begins off of the block; Faried and Chandler are just off of the elbow; and Fournier is in the corner.

Chandler I 2

Foye receives the ball from the official and the magic begins. Lawson runs towards the free throw line but curls all the way out to the corner with Fournier in the corner on the far opposite end. What makes this play is that Faried turns to his left to pick Dante Cunningham and Chandler side steps from the screen towards the three point line.
Note Martin having his back turned to the action making it impossible for him to have any play on the pass to Chandler here. Though it is hard to fault him for thinking the play was again run for Lawson.

Chandler I 3

Foye steps inbounds towards Chandler who is now covered by Cunningham having been able to recover from the Faried screen while being chased by Martin.

Chandler I 4

However, it’s a fake handoff and the misdirection throws Cunningham off just enough to allow Chandler to rise up for the three.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evan Fournier 0:12 seconds remaining

Fournier I

I hardly feel like counting this play, but it still counts. Fortunately for the Timberwolves they started making there free throws again because the Nuggets were seemingly hitting everything. Here, the Timberwolves make a free throw and Chandler launches an outlet upcourt to Darrell Arthur.

Fournier II

Arthur (Pictured just beyond halfcourt between Brewer and Martin), quickly flips the ball to Evan Fournier as the game clock winds down.

Fournier III

Fournier then races to the corner to launch this shot over JJ Barea with under 10 seconds to play and somehow nails it. Yeah, okay. Whatever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, this is how a once-blowout became a nail-biter on the road for the Timberwolves. Denver is an especially tough place to play because of the altitude, but you still have to execute better down the stretch to avoid getting into this position in the first place. Fortunately for Minnesota they were able to gut out the win, but it sure was a lot closer than it had to be. Not that close wins count any different in the standings than blowouts, but why make things more difficult for yourself?

 

Can We Chill?

I’m not telling you how to feel, though everyone seems to think I am when I say this, but everyone is getting a little high-strung. You can feel how you want to feel and is ultimately your choice and I have no influence on that either way. Personally, I like to maintain my composure and remember that not every little thing in the world is the end, but — hey! — you do you, and I’ll do me.

First off, there is too much calling for people’s heads. Who are you trading for who that is going to make this team better? Kyle Lowry is available, but Kyle Lowry is always available because nobody wants him in their locker room. Evan Turner? Seriously…even if they could get him, it’s difficult to see how he improves this team. Plain and simple, the Timberwolves don’t have the assets to make an impactful trade.

Secondly, whether or not Rick Adelman is in fact the right coach for this team in the long term is debatable. Once they signed Adelman, we knew that the Timberwolves would enter win now mode and many have us have been frustrated because we’ve expected more than .500. However, the time to replace him was either this offseason or this coming summer; not now. Who do you get? Promote Terry Porter? Yeah, we saw how that worked out last season for the Timberwolves when Adelman had to take a leave of absence. If you’re going to let go of a Rick Adelman you better do it when you have a wider range of candidates available because you are not going to get a better coach for this team right now. Adelman may not be perfect, but he’s far from Vinny Del Negro.

You may disagree with his rotations, but they’re far from completely illogical, even playing JJ Barea over Ricky Rubio in the fourth quarters of games. When Barea is having a good game, especially Friday night when the team was without Nikola Pekovic, it’s hard to remove that spark from the game. Yes, Rubio is the better player and should not be on the bench for the entire quarter, but we’ve seen how the team has fared in fourth quarters with Rubio and it’s not a guarantee of victory to have him in instead of Barea. It’s unfortunate, but that’s what has been true this season.

This most recent stretch of games has been frustrating, but short of overnighting Pekovic to ISIS headquarters for bionic ankle replacement with Doctor Krieger, there is nothing anyone can do about this situation. Pekovic went down, and the Timberwolves still managed to take down the Pelicans, which was great to see. Then the Grizzlies came to town and brought their frontcourt of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph with them, which is a formidable tandem even when healthy.

The Timberwolves lost without that extra firepower Pekovic brings to the team and then had to head to Atlanta the next day for a back-to-back in what ultimately wound up becoming a schedule/injury loss. It happens, and again, there is nothing anyone can do about it. Every team has unfortunate injuries and has tough stretches in the schedule. It’s a part of the game and there are usually opportunities to make them back later on. Oh, what do you know: there are just under 40 games remaining in the season. Sure, it sucks dropping to 3 1/2 games behind the Grizzlies for the ninth seed, but the Timberwolves are still right in it.

This is a flawed-yet-talented team. They have some great players, and having Kevin Love always gives you a chance, but as a team, they are not strong defensively and do not have consistent bench scorers unfortunately. Maybe that will change once Chase Budinger gets healthy, but they are making due with the pieces that they do have. The waiting for everything to fall into place does grow tiresome, but it is what it as and could certainly be worse. Despite their flaws the Timberwolves can still grab a playoff spot. There’s just way too much time to be this…sensitive so soon. Again, feel how you want to feel. It’s up to you.

The Winny City: Timberwolves drop Bulls 95-86

The Timberwolves have never really fared well against the Bulls given the respective arcs of the two franchises. Initially, the Timberwolves were in their expansion phase and the Jordan Bulls were in full-swing. Then, Jordan retired and Garnett reigned freely, and then as he left Minnesota Rose rose to prominence in Chicago. Really, it’s made for a very uneven series in the 25 years of the matchup’s history. And coming into tonight, the Bulls had swept every series since ’09 against the Timberwolves, including three straight at United Center and seven consecutive overall. Tonight, with the Bulls short Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah (Illness), the Timberwolves were in prime position to pounce.

The Timberwolves began the game jumping out to a modest lead by getting out in transition early and racking up all the easy baskets they could get. Then, halfway through the first, Nikola Pekovic went down with a sore achilles and did not return to the game. In his wake, everyone’s favorite player, Ronny Turiaf, stepped in and gave the team a much-needed boost.

Turiaf played well with the team’s backup point guards in the pick n’ roll and getting easy lobs off of those plays. When Turiaf wasn’t scrapping for points on offense, he was bringing the swat to the defensive end, too. Turiaf finished with a season high 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks and was an absolute difference maker. Thanks to Turiaf, the Timberwolves were able to coast into the second half with the lead.

While the Timberwolves never really had their lead in question, the Bulls were not going to back down that easy. Especially not a Tom Thibodeau coached team. Chicago came out, grabbed a few points off of turnovers and made Minnesota uncomfortable enough to call a quick timeout. Still, the Bulls’ offense proved to be too anemic despite the Timberwolves own offensive struggles and still led going into the fourth quarter, 72-65.

By this point, it had become clear that the Timberwolves were going to need a bit of a push to not let the Bulls hang around. Well, that sort of worked out, thanks to more steady bench contributions from Turiaf, but also Chase Budinger who finished with 12 points. The Bulls pulled close late in the game behind a DJ Augustin three, but Kevin Love would answer it on the  other end with a layup off of a Rubio pass and that seemed to seal it. Actually, no. The true dagger was when Rubio came down with the defensive rebound and flipped it to Brewer streaking towards the basket and screamed, “FATALITY” (citation needed) as he emphatically dunked the ball.

Because Thibs, you continue fouling when it’s a 3-4 possession game and under a minute left, the Bulls gave the Timberwolves several freebies on the night, in part because they insisted on continuously sending Love to the line who finished 14-14 on the night. Love may have struggled with his three ball, but made up for it with his perfection from the line. Love also finished with just eight rebounds, begging the question: did he accidentally sip out of Noah’s Gatorade cup during pregame?

So, the Timberwolves break yet another streak, this time to the Bulls. Perhaps more importantly they take three of four on the road and head into a much easier portion of their schedule. In a way, tonight also had to be good for their finishing abilities in late game situations. The Bulls may have been shorthanded, but this was still a road game in a building they hadn’t performed well in and never let them back in the game. Even when Chicago would make a run, they would calmly push back the charge and continue to play their game.

Love finished with 31 points and eight rebounds and JJ Barea led the team with seven assists. Rubio played a nice, even game, finished with 9-6-4 on the night. Carlos Boozer led the way for Chicago with 20 points and 14 rebounds, while Jimmy Butler (!) and Augustin finished with 16 and 19 points, respectively.

Shorthanded team or not, the Timberwolves needed this to carry over some positive momentum into this upcoming lighter portion of their schedule. It wasn’t necessarily a guaranteed win for them, but they certainly went out and got it even when things got tough.

BREAKING: Kevin Love considering red or green shirt at the mall.

Disclaimer: Howlin T-wolf does not endorse any laundry products and products mentioned below should not be interpreted as such. The author is in no way shape or form compensated by big laundry and usually buys whatever is on sale.

Timberwolves forward Kevin Love has been wearing a blue shirt for the past six years. When Love first received the shirt it was a bit big as a 19-year old baby face and grew into it with each passing year. For years some have speculated that he’s wanted a different colored shirt, yet Love has remained insistent in his loyalty towards his blue shirt.

There were some reasons to question his loyalty to his blue shirt. His friends had newer, shinier shirts that were different colors and some speculated that he may also want a new shirt in a different shade. After all, the people that had originally been taking care of his shirt had not been kind to it. They didn’t believe in fabric softeners and would wash it in warm water, despite Love’s assertion that the tag said “cold water only.” I mean, damn, how hard is it to read a flipping tag; if it says cold only, don’t set the dial to warm.

Still, when Love’s shirt contract was up a couple of years ago, he said that he wanted to wear that shirt for the rest of his career, but the launderer had other ideas and didn’t think that was in the best interest of the organization. Upset, Love asked for a shorter deal with a player option, leading some to believe that he was considering other more colorful, bigger shirts to grow in to.

About a year later the owner decided to fire the launderer that caused the star’s displeasure and brought in a few of his friends. All Love wanted was to see a little Downy, some starch and some stain spot remover once in awhile. Under new management, the organization took a proactive approach to making sure Love’s threads were being well-treated.

Now, as the team remains in playoff contention and Love’s garments smell like Oxy Clean just a little more often, “reports” have surfaced that Love is considering new shirts when he goes to the mall when his contract is up in a year and a half. Reportedly, Love has begun to shop via catalog and has identified a red and green shirt as his two favorites. I mean, everyone plans out what they’re going to wear a year and a half before they can make the decision. There’s no way that tastes may change or that the mall will even have a red or a green shirt. Maybe Love really does want a new shirt, but sours on the red and green before deciding on a yellow shirt.

Do we really know? Should we worry about what Love will want to wear in a year and a half? After all, last we heard he still likes his blue shirt, especially since they switched to the liquid detergent over the dry stuff and put it in the dryer instead of air-drying so it becomes too crunchy.

Here’s what we do know: Kevin Love will be wearing a shirt in June 2015. Yet, it might be a little early to know which shirt that will be in January 2014.

I don’t want to talk about it: Wolves lose 104-103 to the Suns

Here’s the thing about the Phoenix Suns. They’re like that person who shows up to a dinner at a restaurant that the hosts setup with a reservation ahead of the time. Because there is not enough room for this unexpected guest, the restaurant has to may have to pull up a chair or move a couple of tables around to accommodate the extra person. Of course, this is a metaphor (or something) for the Western Conference, and the Western Conference is crowded so therefore this figurative restaurant is also crowded and this makes everyone uncomfortable. Plain and simple: they don’t belong, but they are here and we have to deal with it.

Don’t get me wrong; the Suns are good. They are also exactly the team that you don’t want to run into coming off of a blowout of a bad team. In the same way you want to have a short memory with a bad loss, it’s helpful to have a short memory with a big win.

The Timberwolves roared out to an early 11-2 lead behind six Kevin Martin points. The Suns saw this and thought this was a terrific idea like that person at the restaurant who orders the same thing as you by going on an 11-2 run of their own. Thanks to Channing Frye, the Suns managed to escape with a modest four-point lead at the end of one.

In the second quarter, Chase Budinger, making his season debut, scored five points, but it was Phoenix’s 12-3 run at the end of the half that would give them the 53-47 advantage.

It was in the third quarter that the Timberwolves continued to do the two things they were successful at in the first half — getting to the line and making threes — and were able to use that to carry them to a lead at the end of the third and eventually a late game lead.

Are you wondering why I skipped over a quarter’s worth of game? Because something happened, again, and I think we need to talk about it. I talked about it on Hardwood Paroxysm over the weekend while the site was down, but I’m willing to open up the conversation again.

Over the course of the game’s final 2: 45 the Suns managed to outscore the Timberwolves 8-1 to seal the game, including a Gerald Green baseline jumper that made you go, “YEAHOKAYWHATEVERGERALDGREENIFYOU’REGOINGTOHITTHAT…” It was tough, a little hard to stomach, but this is not the end of the world. Most of the Timberwolves’ issues are fixable, and while they do have time on their side, the sooner they get fixed the better.

For example, Corey Brewer’s foul on Gerald Green’s jumper with about 2:34 to go. On this play Brewer runs up behind Green as he’s about to release and catches him on the wrist. Why commit that foul then and there? It made no sense and eventually led to two made free throws by Green.

When the Timberwolves would try and run an offense the defense would sag off of Ricky Rubio, jamming the passing lanes and making it more difficult to get into their offense. This led to a rushed Kevin Love turnaround baseline jumper, a bobbled entry pass to Nikola Pekovic and Rubio eventually throwing a pass that was interception right under the basket and eventually helped the Suns seal the game. Even Kevin Martin got a chance to win it with his 10-footer at the end of the game, but it missed and the rest is now history.

Tonight was frustrating, no doubt. However, there is still plenty of time to turn things around being just 34 games into the season. Being in the Western Conference, these games are important so there does need to be a sense of urgency, but their 0-whatever record in late-game situations could wind up not mattering at all come April. The Timberwolves are one game under .500, not 15 games under. Nobody is guaranteed a playoff spot and the Timberwolves are no exception and will have to resolve their issues before it is actually too late.

Tonight is one of those games where you will need a short memory as a team (Probably a fan, too) since the last thing you want to do is compound your problems by letting it take another game from you. It’s not like I’m going to sit here and tell you that tonight wasn’t a disaster of an ending because it was, but that doesn’t automatically make it a predictor of latter season success. The Timberwolves will turn around to do it again against the improved Bobcats on Friday and if they can’t leave this game behind then they will have bigger problems than this.

Notes:

- Love finished with 15 and 12, but on 4-20 shooting and five fouls. Pekovic added 17-12 and Rubio finished with 7-8-8.

- For the Suns, Goran Dragic led the way with 26-8-9 and Channing Frye chipped in 22 points off of five three pointers.

- Both teams finished with 12 turnovers, but the Suns scored 18 off of turnovers to the Timberwolves’ 13. Though the Timberwolves won the points in the battle (42-28) and had twelve more free throw attempts than the Suns tonight. Yeah, they should have won, but late game execution and all…

Timberwolves drop Bucks, 117-95, get back to .500

Although the Bucks came into Saturday night’s matchup with the Timberwolves with the league’s worst overall record, the game carried some importance for Minnesota who had hit a bit of rough patch the last couple of weeks. The Bucks were getting Larry Sanders back from a hand injury and the Timberwolves were, well, like the Bucks, on the second night of a back-to-back. Still, with a victory in Milwaukee the Timberwolves would be able to do three things: 1) Move back to .500; 2) jump the Denver Nuggets for sole possession of third place in the Northwest division; and 3) reclaim the ninth seed in the Western Conference.

Spoiler alert: They did.

The Bucks came out with a ton of energy in an, “Aww, isn’t that just precious” kind of way. They were able to match the Timberwolves’ energy to start the game and were able to keep it a close game until about halfway through the first quarter when they scored 16 points on 14 points in the paint. However, they couldn’t resist the urge to commit careless turnover after careless turnover, including several passes thrown directly to multiple Timberwolves. In fact, in the first three minutes, Ricky Rubio had tallied three steals. I’m not sure the Bucks remembered they were wearing white.

As the game carried on into the second quarter, the Timberwolves continued to build their momentum behind a strong team three point shooting  performance and points off of turnovers. Minnesota shot 11-24 from distance for the entire game and with 25 points off of turnovers. The Timberwolves force the second most turnovers per game and forced 20 more on Saturday night, so when they finished the game with 18 of their own they were able to mitigate those negative effects with their 25-12 points off of turnovers advantage. By this point the energy the Bucks exhibited early on had faded and the Timberwolves led 64-55.

To follow up two 30-plus point quarters, the Timberwolves were able to add on to their lead with another 39 point frame. Continuing the good things that had enabled them to take and hold the lead and finished the half up 103-76, including what was once a 30-point lead. Placing the worst team in the league, this was hardly surprising.

Naturally, the Timberwolves took their foot off of the pedal in the fourth quarter and allowed the Bucks to creep back into the game some. Halfway through the fourth after the Bucks had cut the lead back into the mid-teens, Adelman re-inserted his big three of Rubio, Love, and Pekovic to stop the bleeding. This isn’t as much cause for concern as it was a team that was up big on a far worse team falling asleep at the wheel and then regaining consciousness in time to put them away for good. When the Bucks were back within 12 with less than two minutes to go and Martin hit that elbow jumper to cause the Larry Drew time out, it was over. Done. Did we really need the last 12 minutes to learn this result? No, not really, especially on the second night of a back-to-back.

Love led the Timberwolves with a brilliant 33 points, 15 rebound and four assist game on 11-17 shooting, including 4-6 from three. Nikola Pekovic played well with 19-11-3, but when the Bucks threw Sanders on him late his length gave Pekovic some problems and turnovers. On top of it all, the bench contributed 19 points, which is just what the Timberwolves need to be successful for the rest of the season.

Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 23 points and nine rebounds. OJ Mayo added an efficient 19 points on 8-12 shooting off of the bench, but gave the Bucks very little else. And Sanders finished 10 points and nine rebounds in his return from hand surgery.

Nothing like a little Eastern Conference back-to-back to get your confidence back, right?