Barea Looking To Build Off Big Game Against Bucks

It’s no secret that when the Wolves are playing their best basketball, J.J. Barea is at his best coming off the bench. Barea is the main offensive spark plug this team has outside of its starting five, and when he’s hitting shots and giving the offense a boost in energy, the Wolves are able to really thrive.

On Tuesday night, Barea gave that spark. The Wolves are hoping he’ll keep that going moving forward during this postseason run.

Barea was a force against Milwaukee. He finished with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting, he hit a pair of 3-pointers, collected four assists and made his free throws when he got to the line. And on top of that, he was versatile. In the first two years under coach Rick Adelman in Minnesota, we saw a lot of two point guard lineups between Barea, Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour. That hasn’t been the case this year, but in Tuesday’s 112-101 win Minnesota certainly took advantage of the opportunity to use Barea and Rubio on the floor at the same time.

For Barea, he was just happy to get back into more of a scoring and productive role. Prior to Tuesday’s game, he had reached double-digit points just once in his last six games. He shot a combined 28.3 percent from the floor during that six-game stretch, including 3-of-13 from 3-point range. On Tuesday, he shot 70.0 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from 3.

“I was due for something,” Barea said on Tuesday. “So I was just going to keep being aggressive, but I was patient tonight. I took some shots, and it got me going. So I’m happy that I just helped my team out tonight and helped us get this win.”

The Timberwolves understand how important Barea is to their success overall—they are 16-10 this season when he does score in double-figures—but they also understand that regardless of Barea’s effectiveness or statistics he’s going to bring energy and aggressiveness.

He’s a gamer, as Kevin Love said, and they don’t worry about Barea because they know what they’re going to get from him.

“He plays hard at practice, he shines at practice,” Love said. “He kills our first time all the time no matter who’s guarding him or who’s switching off him on the pick-and-roll. We’re not concerned about him. We know when it’s time—he’s a gamer more than anything. When it comes time to play, he’ll be ready win, lose or draw.”

That’s the type of effort the Wolves got against Milwaukee.

And it was much-needed.

“He got it going, big shots,” Adelman said. “Got to the basket when we needed him.”

Now, Barea hopes to keep that going as we get into the final month of this season. The Wolves are clinging to their playoff chances, and in order to get on a roll they’ll need to have Barea’s energy and production off the bench on a consistent basis.

He said when he’s going through struggles, he tries to use that to his advantage. He’ll hope to do that as the Wolves head to Charlotte on Friday to continue their playoff push.

“I just work harder,” Barea said. “I work harder, I take positives. I don’t look at the negativity. I stay positive. I come the next day and keep working hard and see what happens.”

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