GameDay LIVE Blog: Wolves vs. Bucks | March 11, 2014
Final: That's the ballgame, folks. The Wolves are back over .500 at 32-31 heading into their road matchup against the Bobcats on Friday night. This is the most wins the Wolves have had since the 2006-07 season, and the most in any season during which Kevin Garnett was not on the roster. Love finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and three blocks. Martin had 26 points, Barea had 19 and Pek had 14. Knight had 21 for the Bucks. Much more to come, so stay tuned all night here on Timberwolves.com. MIN 112, MIL 101
Q4 3:09: The Wolves seem to have this one in hand with 3:09 to play. For as tough as it was for them to get going in the first half, they've been able to settle down and pick up the intensity in the second half. The Bucks are shooting 52 percent, but Minnesota has climbed over 49 percent from the field and is capitalizing off Milwaukee's miscues. They've got 30 points off 15 Bucks turnovers--that's a good little number right there. They've also got a 52-30 edge in the paint. Love has 22 points, 10 boards and six assists to go along with three blocks--another all-around night for him. MIN 107, MIL 92
Q4 7:30: The Wolves once trailed by 11, but they've come back and lead by 11 with 7:30 to play. Dante Cunningham just rattled one home on a mid-range jumper, and he's up to seven points on the night. This is a big 3-4 minute stretch here. If the Wolves are able to sustain this edge or build on it over the next few minutes, they'll chew enough time and keep enough momentum to likely pull this one out. They're going back out there with the same five they had prior to the timeout. MIN 85, MIL 85
Q4 8:45: Minnesota has its largest lead of the night with just under 9 minutes to play here in the fourth. They've extended their lead to 91-85 and are trying to turn the corner here. Love is already at 35 minutes, and he's heading back out after this timeout. So is Shabazz Muhammad, who logged just two minutes up to this point. They're joined by a all-point guard Rubio and Barea back court as well as Dante Cunningham. MIN 91, MIL 85
End Q3: Quick shout out to Kevin Love for racking up a couple blocks in the the third quarter. Nice to see that effort on the defensive end. The Wolves are leading but only by two, and it looks like we'll be in for a tight finish here tonight. Martin has 26 points, Love and Barea each have 17 and Pekovic has 10. Milwaukee is still shooting 56 percent from the field. The equalizer has been Minnesota's 24 points off 11 Bucks turnovers. MIN 86, MIL 84
Q3 2:57: The Wolves have their largest lead of the night right now and are trying to put a little separation between themselves and the Bucks right now. Minnesota is getting a nice quarter from K-Mart, who has seven points in the frame (21 on the night) and just drew an offensive foul that sent the possession arrow back to the Wolves. Love has 17 and 5 tonight, and Pek has 10 and 8. Nate Wolters has already played 20 minutes after also finding himself in the starting lineup, and he's got 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting including 2-for-2 from 3. Four of the Bucks' starters are in double-digits, while Pachulia has nine. MIN 79, MIL 76
Halftime: The Wolves trail by six here as we head into the second half. Barea leads the way with 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting, while K-Mart has 14 points, Love has nine and Pek has seven. The Wolves are shooting 46.8 percent, but the biggest issue tonight is the Bucks are hitting 58.5 percent of their attempts. Brandon Knight has 14, Zaza Pachulia has nine, Khris Middleton has eight and Nate Wolters has seven. The Wolves need to make it a little more difficult for the Bucks here tonight on the offensive end. But just like Rick Adelman said yesterday, the Bucks are averaging 12 points per game more than they were before the All-Star Break. This team figured some things out on the offensive end. It's up to the Wolves to slow them down. MIL 61, MIN 55
Q2 2:58: J.J. Barea is having a great night so far, which is good to see because he's had his ups and downs over the last couple weeks. He's 6-for-6 tonight, including a pair of 3-pointers, and he's leading all scorers with 15 points. He also has a pair of rebounds and a pair of assists. K-Mart has 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting, and Love has nine points and four rebounds. The Wolves trail by two, but they made the majority of their comeback earlier in the game without Love on the court. That's a positive. MIL 51, MIN 49
Q2 5:51: Tonight's Strictly Spanish episode was with J.J. Barea. He translated "slide" for us en espanol. Thought you might like to know that. Maybe not. On the court, Martin got up to 10 points on a nice baseline cut and feed from Pek. MIN 42, MIL 42
Q2 8:24: The second unit is in with the exception of Love giving way to Pek midway through this four-minute stretch, and they're mounting a bit of a comeback here. J.J. Barea has been excellent so far tonight attacking the rim and drawing contact. He's been able to get to the line a couple times, but more importantly he's being aggressive and forcing the issue. Budinger also has a reverse layup off the bench. Milwaukee is starting to slow down (they're shooting 17-of-27 at this timeout) and they're giving up a big edge in the paint (28-18) and on second chance points (10-2). Also, Crunch is wearing a shirt that says "Buck Hunter" and orange pants for a deer hunt. Nice style tonight. MIL 40, MIN 38
End Q1: The Wolves immediately fell behind by 10 after cutting the lead to two, but the Wolves ended the quarter on a 5-0 run and trail by five heading into the second. K-Mart has eight pionts, Love has seven and Pek has four in the starting lineup. Barea has all five Wolves bench points. Knight has 10 for the Bucks. MIL 33, MIN 28
Q1 3:40: That's more like it. The Wolves went on an 11-4 run here and brought this deficit down to 2. Martin is up to eight points on 3-of-7 shooting, Love has six and three, and Pek has four. The Bucks have now missed two shots, so if you were getting excited for a perfect game, you can stop now. Minnesota has an 18-14 edge in the paint and an 8-0 lead in second-chance points. The Greek Freak is checking in, too, so grab the popcorn. MIL 24, MIN 22
Q1 6:21: Well this one isn't going according to plan so far. The Wolves are trailing by nine as Milwaukee opens up the game a perfect 10-of-10 from the field. They've got 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting from Brandon Knight, four more from Nate Wolters and two from the other three starters. The Wolves started 3-of-11 and are 5-of-13 right now. Love has four points, and Rubio has three assists. MIL 20, MIN 11
Wolves: PG-Ricky Rubio, SG-Kevin Martin, SF-Corey Brewer, PF-Kevin Love, C-Nikola Pekovic
Bucks: PG-Brandon Knight, SG-Nate Wolters, SF-Khris Middleton, PF-John Henson, C-Zaza Pachulia
Also noteworthy, Ersan Ilyasova is not available tonight due to an ankle injury. That's a noteworthy pregame development. And Nate Wolters, the St. Cloud-area native who became a sensation at South Dakota State, is in the starting lineup and got a huge ovation when his name was called. I still believe if he ran for the governorship in South Dakota right now, he'd win.
PREGAME 4:30 PM: Remember that tonight is social media night at Target Center, and to commemorate it we've got a special live show that we'll be broadcasting on Timberwolves.com from 6-6:30 p.m. Bridget Anderson, Kyle Ratke and I will all be on set talking about how the Wolves use social media, giving a quick game preview and interacting with you fans throughout the program. All you need to do is tune into Timberwolves.com at 6 p.m.
Here are a few pregame notes for tonight's game.
PREGAME 1:30 PM: The Wolves have gone through their fair share of ups and downs this year, but one constant has been Kevin Love’s play. Regardless of where he started—at his traditional power forward or at center in place of Nikola Pekovic at the end of February—Love has continued to thrive. He made his third All-Star team this year and was voted as a starter for the first time, he’s collected franchise records and achieved things league-wide that we hadn’t seen in 10, 20 or even 30 years in some cases.
We’re getting a chance to witness some very special play right now from one of the league’s bright young stars as he transitions into his prime. His latest accomplishment is setting a new franchise record for most 3-point makes in a season. He had four against the Raptors on Sunday night, and in the process he passed Rashad McCants’ franchise mark of 142. He comes into tonight with 144.
“It’s cool to be in the Wolves’ history books like that, and hopefully I can get that number up here to help the team and put it out of reach for a few more years,” Love said after shootaround this morning.
Looking back now, Love’s game has been building to this level for some time. Since he made his first All-Star Game back in 2011, he’s continued to reshape his body and his game to the point of remodeling what a typical power forward does on the court.
He’s becoming the poster child for Stretch 4s around the league, and he’s been able to hit shots from deep without actually straying from his own personal strengths and the flow of the offense.
Love said the 3-point shot is something he’s enjoyed developing over the past 3-4 years both here and with Team USA, and it’s afforded him the ability to expand the floor and open up space around the court.
“Just refining my shot, continuing to work on it,” Love said. “Remembering the game is played inside out, so working my way from two feet to 22 feet, 23 feet, 25 feet—whatever it is that I keep backing up a couple feet behind the line and still have a good shooting stroke. It’s just something that I’ve been blessed with and am able to have a pretty good touch from outside. It’s something I’ll continue to work on.
Love attempted just 19 3-pointers as a rookie and made just two. That’s a .105 clip for those keeping track. He upped his total to 35-of-106 as a sophomore, then increased to 211 attempts in his third year and 282 in his fourth—both of those seasons he was an All-Star. After spending most of the 2012-13 season injured, Love bounced back with his most makes, attempts and highest 3-point percentage this year.
During his past two trips to All-Star Weekend, he’s been good enough league-wide to be a contestant in the Foot Locker 3-Point Contest. He won it in 2012.
“Since Day 1 he’s been making shots,” said guard Ricky Rubio on the time he’s spent playing with Love in Minnesota. “He’s been even better, making step-backs, and it’s something unbelievable how a guy like him can do a lot of things, can make shots like he’s making.”
The most impressive part of Love’s game is that when it comes to his skill set offensively, it only continues to evolve. Each year he comes back with something different.
The 3-pointer is an example of that.
“It’s been a great tool for me,” Love said. “Something that we’ve been able to put different wrinkles into the offense. And it’s fun.”
More to come on the pregame blog, so stay tuned.
PREGAME 1:15 PM: Welcome to Target Center for tonight’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s the final game of this four-game home stand before Minnesota hits the road to take on the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night. They’ll return home on Sunday against Sacramento before big back-to-back games in Texas against Dallas and Houston on Wednesday and Thursday.
We’re winding down on this 2013-14 season, folks. After tonight, Minnesota has just 10 home games left and 19 games overall. Tonight’s game in particular is exciting for us as an organization because it’s our Social Media night on Timberwolves.com. Be sure to watch our Pre-Pregame Show highlighting our #WolvesMadness campaign at 6 p.m. tonight right here on the website. We’ll be taking questions from fans, previewing the game, talking social media and much more. Just log on to Timberwolves.com at 6 and we will redirect you to the video page. Bridget Anderson, Kyle Ratke and I will be hosting the show, and we love the participation.