GameDay LIVE Blog: Wolves vs. Heat | Dec. 7, 2013

GameDay LIVE Blog: Wolves vs. Heat | Dec. 7, 2013

 



Final: That's the ballgame, folks. The Wolves fall 103-82 tonight against the Heat despite 19 from K-mart, 18 & 12 from Pek, 13 from Brewer and 11 from Mbah a Moute. For the Heat, James finished with 21 points, 14 boards and eight assists, while D-Wade had 19, Allen had 11 and Lewis had 10. More to come tonight on Timberwolves.com, so stay tuned. MIA 103, MIN 82

Q4 5:39: The Wolves announced tonight's crowd is a sellout of 19,888. Very nice crowd on hand to watch the Wolves take on the Heat. MIA 92, MIN 70

Q4 8:33: The Heat just bumped this lead up to 22 after a couple nice trips down the floor by Norris Cole. James now has 21, Wade 17, Allen 11 and Lewis 10. The Heat's bench is out-scoring the Wolves' 28-6 tonight. MIA 86, MIN 64

End Q3: That's two straight quarters in which the Wolves were held under 20 points: 17 in the second and 18 and the third. And it's hurting. Minnesota is down 16 after 3, but they had a chance midway through. They were down five at 61-56 before Miami closed out the quarter on a 15-4 run. K-Mart has 17, Pek has 16 & 10 and Brewer, who hit a 3 at the buzzer, has a 13. LeBron has 21 points, 14 boards, eight assists. MIA 76, MIN 60

Q3 2:38: LeBron and D-Wade just did some Uncle Drew ballin' on that last fast break. D-Wade threw it off the backboard to James, who threw it down with two hands. That brings the Heat lead back up to 14 with 2:38 left in the third. The Wolves had it down to five, but then Miami kicked it up a notch and really took control of this game. MInnesota needs a run right now at the end of the third to make this a ballgame in the fourth. MIA 71, MIN 57

Q3 5:54: The Wolves entered the third down 13 but have continued chipping away. They're down by five right now as LeBron James picked up his third foul. They're getting the defensive stops they're looking for, and they're getting their shots to fall a bit here this quarter. Funny though, even though Pek has a double-double at 15 and 10 (which was a key for the Wolves tonight), they are getting beat 29-27 on the boards and 36-24 in the paint. They've also turned the ball over 12 times, yet they are still only down five. That's a good sign at this point, because they are weathering the storm. MIA 61, MIN 56

Halftime: The Wolves are struggling right now from the field--they're down to 30 percent shooting--and are trailing by 13 at the break. They knew scoring was going to change without Love, but they hoped the defense would be able to pick up. They've had their moments, but overall the Heat are shooting 56 percent and are getting better looks and more fast break opportunities than the Wolves would like to give out. K-Mart currently has 17 on 5-of-10 shooting, while Mbah a Moute has nine and Pek has eight. For the Heat, LeBron has 13 points, 10 boards, six assists and five turnovers. D-Wade has 11 points, and Rashard Lewis has seven on 3-of-4 shooting off the bench. MIA 55, MIN 42

Q2 5:58: Take this as you will, but the Wolves are shooting 33.3 percent compared to the Heat's 53.6 percent, are 1-of-6 from the 3-point line, have turned the ball over nine times in 18 minutes but are still down just six to the Heat. You can either look at that as tough stats or encouraging that they're competitive despite shooting at that clip. MIA 38, MIN 34

Q2 9:23: Miami just put together a 14-4 run and took a 33-27 lead. The latest was a transition basket by Wade, who was fouled by Gorgui Dieng and sent to the line for the old-fashion 3-point play. Dieng has been in for three minutes and have two fouls, so it looks like Pek is heading back in. Miami overcame its deficit and extended its lead back up to six with James on the bench. MIA 33, MIN 27

End Q1: The Wolves hold a 25-24 lead after 1 led by K-Mart's 12 points and Pek's six. Mbah a Moute has five. The Heat are led by James' six points, four boards and three assists. Miami is trailing despite shooting 55 percent and Minnesota shooting 36.8 percent. The Wolves weren't able to extend their lead with James sidelined with two fouls during the end of the first, but he's not coming out to start the second, either. For the Wolves, Barea, Martin, Brewer, DC and Gorgui start the quarter. MIN 25, MIA 24

Q1 2:51: LeBron just picked up Foul No. 2 trying to snag an offensive rebound with 2:51 left in the first. Meanwhile, K-Mart is doing his part offensively. He's already got 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including 3-of-3 from the line. Pek has six, and Mbah a Moute has five thanks to some aggressive play around the rim. MIN 23, MIA 19

Q1 6:13: The Heat took a 14-6 lead but the Wolves countered w/ a K-Mart baseline jumper and a steal and flush by Mbah a Moute. It's 14-10. Now, we're headed into a timeout because D-Wade just looked like he hit his knee and was on the floor. He is, however, back on the court. The scorers table just said one of Martin's previous shots was actually a 3, not a 2, so it's now 14-11. Heat 14, MIN 11

Q1 9:34:Heat 7, MIN 4

Starters:

Heat:
PG-Mario Chalmbers, SG-Dwyane Wade, SF-LeBrono James, PF-Shane Battier, C-Chris Bosh

Wolves: PG-Ricky Rubio, SG-Kevin Martin, SF-Corey Brewer, PF-Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, C-Nikola Pekvoic

Pregame 7:00 PM: Forgot to post this earlier, but Michael Beasley is expected to be out tonight because of a sore hamstring. He's been playing some of the most efficient basketball of his career, so that does help the Wolves' second unit tonight.

Pregame 6:40 PM: So the Wolves will are going with a defensive approach in their starting five, and that makes a lot of sense considering how much damage LeBron and D-Wade can do if given time and space. But the problem is scoring. With Kevin Love out, there will be about 17 shots and bout 24 points a night missing in the starting lineup. Yes, the Wolves are averaging over 100 per night, but Love is a big part of what makes this offense functional. Now, the Wolves are in position where they need to manufacture offense from different areas.

"My biggest concern is, with Kevin out, how are we going to score enough points?" Adelman said. "We've got to be able to score points. The guys are going to have to step up."

Miami shoots 50 percent from the field as a team, so efficiency is incredibly important tonight. The Wolves need to hit shots. Part of that will come inside, where the Wolves do need to take advantage of a mismatch at center while controlling the paint.

"Pek and Kevin Martin are two guys we have to have score," Adelman said. "So, they do a great job..they're very quick, they're very athletic. They take things away from you. And so, we're going to try and go with Pek. We'll see how much we can go."

Pregame 6:30 PM: I asked D-Wade a couple questions tonight about Kevin Love (even though he's not playing tonight) and Kevin Martin, who he will see as the opposing shooting guard tonight. Wade said K-Mart is doing what he's done his whole career, and that's put the ball in the basket.

"You've got to be aware of him," Wade said. "He's a guy who you know, gets a lot of free throws as well. He's aggressive. He doesn't just shoot, he goes to the basket, so he's a versatile player who can score the ball and is not afraid to shoot the ball at no point, you know, at all from anywhere. So, it's always a tough cover."

As for Love, Wade said he's continuing to be a productive player in the points and rebounding category but is also upping his assists.

"You look at that guy and what he’s able to accomplish and you know, in a short period of time," Wade said. "As a fan of the game, you want him to stay healthy. As a competitor, you know you’re in for a long night with him, so he’s made himself into a very, very, very amazing player in this league. And you know, he’s tough. So, we know they are going to miss him tonight and they got guys who are going to step up and it’s going to be a tough matchup for us tonight.”

Pregame 6:25 PM: Quick update here, Dwyane Wade confirmed he will play tonight. He missed the last two games and was ruled out against Chicago with an illness. He said, "I'm going to have to get out there and run it out of me early. It's going to be rough early, but I'm going to be all right."

Meanwhile, coach Rick Adelman confirmed he will start Luc Richard Mbah a Moute in place of Kevin Love tonight. With the Heat generally using a smaller lineup and their two wing players being arguably two of the top five in the league, having Mbah a Moute and Brewer on the court side-by-side gives the Wolves their best two perimeter defenders on LeBron and D-Wade.

Pregame 4:15 PM: I talked with Shane Battier a bit this morning about Kevin Martin, because he’s a guy in this league that can really attest to K-Mart’s value on this Wolves team. Battier played with Martin in Houston for parts of the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, both under coach Rick Adelman, and as a 13-year veteran himself he has played against Martin in the league since 2004-05.

So Battier provides a unique perspective having played against Martin since K-Mart’s rookie year, has played alongside him as a teammate and has spent 3 ½ years himself in Rick Adelman’s system.

So fast forward to 2013-14 and K-Mart, at 30, is having one of his best statistical years. He’s averaging 23.2 points per game—his highest since 2010-11 with Adelman in Houston—and he’s shooting career-highs at the free-throw line (93.9 percent) and beyond the arc (44.1 percent).

None of this surprises Battier.

“He’s as efficient a player as there is in this league,” Battier said. “He gets fouled a ton, and he shoots 90 percent from the line. And he hits 40 percent from beyond the arc…There’s every few players who are as efficient as Kevin Martin.”

What makes him so effective? For one, he understands what Adelman asks out of his players. Martin is able to move freely around the half court sets, and with guys like Ricky Rubio using his court vision he’s able to get open looks. Fundamentally, Battier said Adelman’s offensive vision simply gives guys like Martin more creativity to do what they want to do.

He said he loves Adelman as a coach because he allows his team to be basketball players, not just guys labeled shooting guards or point guards. He allows guys like Martin or Rubio or Chase Budinger to flourish within the system by tailoring to their strengths.

That’s why it’s so tough for a guy like him, who knows the offense and what it tries to do, to guard it in games like this.

“So many coaches make you play robotic on offense,” Battier said. “Here, it’s really free-wheeling on all of our reads. It’s an adjustment period to get used to his offense.”

For Battier, that’s why Martin has been so efficient this year. And efficiency is such an important quality to have in this league.

“It’s great to have scorers in this league, but the guys who take a lot of shots and score a lot of points aren’t doing their teams a whole lot of favors,” Battier said. “Its’ nice to have, but when you can do it efficiently, that’s a huge bonus for your team.”

Pregame 3:45 PM: Welcome back to Target Center, folks. It seems like it’s been a while since we’ve been here getting ready for a Wolves game, and in all seriousness it has. We hadn’t gone more than four days without a game at Target Center between Oct. 30 and Nov. 27, but it’s been 10 days since our last Timberwolves home contest.

Welcome back to Minnesota, Wolves. You’re homecoming gift is negative temperatures outside and the Miami Heat indoors. Happy Holidays.

A few quick pregame notes before we get into the nitty-gritty tonight. If you haven’t heard, Kevin Love’s grandmother passed away this week and he has an excused absence tonight to be with his family. That means the Wolves will need to find a way to make up for his offense and rebounding against the Heat, and they’ll need to do it by inserting bench player into the starting lineup. Odds are the Wolves will either roll with Dante Cunningham, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute or Robbie Hummel in the starting five, but Minnesota has not announced what they’re going to do yet. Coach Rick Adelman does not talk at shootarounds, and he was absent yesterday as his son, assistant coach David Adelman, and his wife welcomed their first child. We’ll likely find this information out at 5:45 or later.

For the Heat, they could very well be without All-Star shooting guard Dwyane Wade. He missed the last two games—both Miami losses—but was reportedly at shootaround this morning. I did not actually see him, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said everyone made it through shootaround OK. He did not say, however if Wade would be available: “We’ll find out tonight.”

It is tough to lose Love, but the Wolves can make up for it by taking advantage of their significant physical advantage inside. Nikola Pekovic should be able to bruise his way to the hoop in games like this. The Heat have trouble with teams that can work inside out—see the Pacers and the Spurs series in last year’s playoffs. If the Wolves can get Pek established inside (and benefit from his offensive rebounding), then get Kevin Martin hitting his shots on the perimeter, the Wolves could be able to cause some issues for Miami defensively. The big key, as assistant coach Terry Porter said yesterday, is making sure the Wolves take care of the basketball and don’t feed Miami’s transition game. If that happens, it will be a major problem.

A couple last thoughts before we get into the pregame notes: The Heat were out-rebounded 95-48 over the past two games in losses to Detroit and Chicago, and they were edged in the paint 104-82. They also shot 43.9 percent and 41.6 percent, respectively, despite shooting 50 percent as a team for the year. If you make the Heat one-dimensional by not giving them transition baskets and high-percentage looks in the paint, you put yourself in good position. Also, according to ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst, the Heat are 2-3 without Wade this year after going 25-5 the last two years.

Here are tonight’s pregame notes:

  • The Wolves trail in the all-time series 19-27, but are 12-12 at home. Miami has won the last six in the series, with the Wolves last win coming at Miami on Feb. 23, 2010. Minnesota last home win vs. Miami was a 101-91 victory on Jan. 8, 2008.


  • Wolves Notes

  • The Wolves are 6-3 at Target Center this year -- 4-0 against Eastern Conference teams -- outscoring their opponents by an average of 9.5 points per game (108.7 - 99.2).

  • The Wolves are outscoring their opponent by 108 points in the first quarter this season, the largest point differential in the NBA (Houston 2nd-best at +67). Conversely, Miami has been outscored by 15 points in the first quarter, ranking 20th in first quarter point differential. Minnesota leads the NBA with a first-quarter scoring average of 30.5 points.

  • Kevin Martin has connected on 47 of his last 48 free throw attempts and ranks 2nd in the NBA in free throw accuracy at 93.9% and 7th in free throws made (108). He is averaging 26.7 ppg in his last three games and ranks 8th in the NBA in scoring (23.2 ppg).

  • Nikola Pekovic is averaging 17.6 points on 59.5% shooting (88-for-148) over his last 12 games. He had averaged 12.0 ppg on 40.3% shooting (31-for-77) in his first seven games of the season. Pekovic has eight double-doubles this season, including three in the last four games.

  • Ricky Rubio ranks 2nd in the NBA in steals with 2.95 per game, 4th in assists with 8.5 apg and 19th in free throw percentage at 86.0%. Rubio and Corey Brewer have combined for 93 steals this season -- the top duo in the NBA.

  • Kevin Love ranks 1st in the NBA in rebounding (13.6 rpg) and 6th in scoring (23.7 ppg). He has a league-leading 18 double-doubles this year. Love has recorded a double-double in 13 straight road games -- the longest active streak in the NBA.

  • The Wolves rank 4th in the NBA in free throw percentage at 80.5%. Minnesota is 2nd in steals with 9.42 spg and 6th in rebounds at 45.4 per game. The Wolves are allowing their opponents an average of just 17.4 FTAs per game -- the 2nd fewest in the league (San Antonio 16.6).


  • Heat Notes

  • Miami has lost its last two games, which was preceded by a 10-game winning streak. Tonight is the Heat's first road game against a Western Conference team. Miami is 13-0 when holding its opponent under 100 points.

  • The Heat ranks 1st in the NBA in field goal percentage (50.8%), 4th in 3-pt field goal percentage (41.1%), 4th in steals (9.28) and 5th in assists (24.3).

  • LeBron James ranks 2nd in the NBA in scoring (25.7 ppg) and 3rd in field goal percentage (58.4%). He is averaging 24.6 points and 9.4 assists in his last five games vs. Minnesota

  • Dwyane Wade is averaging 30.0 points in his last 11 games vs. Minnesota. His overall scoring average of 27.5 ppg vs. the Wolves is second-best to Michael Jordan's 29.2 ppg.



  • For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.