GameDay LIVE Blog: Wolves vs. Knicks | Mar. 5, 2014

 

Final: That's the ballgame, folks. The Wolves breathed life into the Knicks at least for one night and let New York get out of town with a 118-106 win. That snaps the Wolves' three-game winning streak and really puts a damper on what the Wolves hoped would be a big four-game home stand. Love finishes with 19 and 8, Pek had 17, Brewer had 16 and Rubio had 11. Shabazz had 10 off the bench. Melo had 33 for the Knicks, while Felton and Stoudemire had 18, Chandler had 15 and Smith had 14. Tough loss fore Minnesota. More to come tonight. NYK 118, MIN 106

Q4 4:19: Say what you will about Carmelo Anthony, but the fact is the guy can score. And when he's in a rhythm, he's hard to stop and he looks like he's operating so effortless. He's got 33 here tonight. Meanwhile, Hardaway, Jr. has 11 off the bench and is showing flashes of why he was part of the BBVA Compass Rising Stars event over All-Star Weekend. He's going to be a nice player in this league--he can shoot the lights out, and he's also very athletic. These guys are keeping the Knicks up double-digits here late, and it will take a fast and furious comeback by the Wolves to get them back in this one. NYK 105, MIN 92

Q4 7:40: The Knicks just pushed this back to 11. Adelman calls another timeout to get Love and Martin back in the game and see if the team can't settle down a bit. The Wolves are shaken a bit, missing out on loose balls under the basket and getting rejected at the rim. But I'll tell you that Shabazz continues to look good. He's 5-of-5 with 10 points here in the game, and he's still able and willing to hit big shots at the buzzer. NYK 99, MIN 88

Q4 9:54: And we're back to eight. The Wolves came out flat in this fourth quarter and all of a sudden the Knicks are back up eight. Adelman calls a timeout and is sending Barea, Budinger, Muhammad, DC and Pek back out after the break to see if they can get something going while Love and Rubio rest. NYK 94, MIN 86

End Q3: The Wolves have life, and the fans love it here at Target Center as Minnesota pulled to within 88-86 heading into the fourth. They actually cut it to one at one point, but the Knicks came back with a three to put it back to four on the next possession. The Wolves are getting their energy boost from Rubio (9 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds) as well as Shabazz Muhammad (8 points, 4-of-4 shooting) here in the second half. Rubio is getting to the rim and not only scoring but drawing fouls. Muhammad has been fearless in pulling the trigger, and in one instance he did it as the shot clock expired. Anthony has 27 points for the Knicks. Here we go. NYK 88, MIN 86

Q3 2:58: Ricky Rubio just hit a running jumper off the glass and is headed to the line after this timeout to try and close out the old-fashioned 3-point play. If he succeeds, the Wolves will be down two with about 15 minutes to play in this one. Very nice comeback for the Wolves here in the third. So far they're outscoring the Knicks 23-15 in the third. NYK 81, MIN 78

Q3 5:52: All right, all right: I see you, Timberwolves. Minnesota and New York spent much of the first five minutes of the third quarter trading baskets and keeping that deficit somewhere between 10 and 12 points, but since the Wolves trailed 75-63, Minnesota has gone on a 12-4 run to pull within four. The exclamation point on this run was a big put-back and 1 from Pek. The old-fashioned 3-point play brought this game back to a four-point deficit. NYK 79, MIN 75

Halftime: We saw a couple things at the end of that half--one was a tale of the first half, and hopefully for the Wolves the other is a glimpse of what's to come. First, Carmelo Anthony hit a 3-pointer that put the Knicks up 13 with 5.5 seconds left. That's a pretty indicative look at the first half in a nutshell, as Melo has 20 and the Wolves are shooting 51.1 percent from the field and 46.7 percent from 3. But right after that, Love sent a full-court inbound to Corey Brewer, who snuck behind the Knicks' defense and answered with a layup. Nice to see that energy, hustle and know-how late in the second to at least get a couple points back after that big 3. Minnesota is shooting 45.5 percent but just 31 percent from 3. Love has 18 points and four boards. Brewer has nine points and Pek has six points. Along with Melo's 20, Felton has 11 and both Stoudemire and Smith have 10 for the Knicks. Big half coming up here for Minnesota, which can't drop this first game on this home stand. They need a win. In order to do that, they need a comeback. NYK 66, MIN 55

Q2 2:59: Scratch that last message. The Wolves are down 17 all of a sudden after giving up some 3-point plays and really letting Tyson Chandler do some work under the hoop. He's been receiving alley-oops and lob feeds from Raymond Felton, and that last trip under the basket ended in a basket and one. NYK 59, MIN 44

Q2 5:05: We're starting to see a little change here on both sides--Minnesota is starting to play a little more like we saw during that road trip, and New York is starting to play more like their record indicates. That last Knicks possession included a missed jumper followed by a missed STAT put-back, then J.R. Smith got the rebounded at the top of the key and immediately jacked up a 3. Meanwhile, J.J. Barea hit a 3-pointer and Dante Cunningham has hit 2-of-3 from that midrange sweet spot. We'll see if things continue to change as Love and K-Mart check back in with Barea, Shabazz and DC. NYK 51, MIN 42

Q2 8:36: Minnesota is trying to mount a comeback here. They trailed by 16 at one point, but after a Budinger layup followed by a Budinger 3-pointer and a Shabazz floater, they're down 9. Minnesota's bench was 1-of-9 before Budinger's pair of baskets. But still very little energy here tonight. Shabazz Muhammad is doing his part. He's 2-for-2 with four points in three minutes since checking in. NYK 44, MIN 35

End Q1: The Wolves struggled through those first 12 minutes. New York did exactly what it was trying to do: They controlled the pace, forced turnovers and kept Minnesota from having a big first. It was New York that ended up having the big first frame. They led by double figures for most of the quarter and ended up putting up 38. Melo has 13 on 6-of-11 shooting, and Raymond Felton has eight points and a couple assists. Love has nine points and four boards, Brewer has five points, Pek and Martin each have four and Barea has two off the bench. Minnesota shot 7-of-20 from the field, while the Knicks shot 15-of-27. NYK 38, MIN 24

Q1 2:18: The Wolves have turned the ball over five times resulting in seven Knicks points. They've also had nine fewer field goal attempts. Melo is doing Melo things early on. He's 5-of-9 from the field with 11 points to lead all scorers. The Knicks are shooting 12-of-23 from the field and 4-of-6 from 3-point range. NYK 31, MIN 18
Q1 6:43: Not exactly the start the Wolves were looking for. Minnesota let New York go on a 9-0 run to start the game, then continue the edge by shooting 8-of-10 right out of the gate. Melo is the catalyst so far with seven points on 3-of-5 shooting, but Raymond Felton has six points on 2-of-2 shooting. Love has five to lead the Wolves, who are actually shooting 57 percent from the field but have just seven attempts. New York has not turned the ball over yet and is shooting 9-of-13. NYK 22, MIN 12

Starters:

Wolves:
Wolves: PG-Ricky Rubio, SG-Kevin Martin, SF-Corey Brewer, PF-Kevin Love, C-Nikola Pekovic

Knicks: PG-Raymond Felton, SG-J.R. Smith, SF-Carmelo Anthony, PF-Amar'e SToudemire, C-Tyson Chandler

PREGAME 6:45 PM: It’s not exactly a new storyline that Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic are imposing players side-by-side up front. They’re the Bruise Brothers for a reason, right?

The Knicks are well aware.

“You’ve got to match their strength and physicality,” Woodson said. “I mean, that’s why we’re going big tonight with Amar’e and Tyson. They’re a load. I mean, Pekovic is great in terms of ducking in and receiving the ball and making plays at the rim with either hand. And he’s a hell of a rebounder. So I mean, he clogs it in there. You’ve got Love outside, inside, the double threat. They have a good team. I like what they’re doing.”

Love, who was a Western Conference Player of the Month candidate, continues to shine. And keep his opponents’ heads scratching on how to stop him.

“You just don’t find too many 6-9, 6-10 guys that can shoot it like that and shoot the hell out of the ball,” Woodson said. “It’s been fun to watch him play and develop over the years. He’s just gotten better every year for this team. I can’t help but think he’s going to continue to grow as a player. He seems like he’s a true pro. I don’t know him that well, but just from the outside looking in, he’s had a hell of a career.”

PREGAME 6:20 PM: Wolves coach Rick Adelman was asked pregame if the team had been looking ahead too much earlier in the season, neglecting to put enough emphasis on the present game at hand. Adelman didn't buy it, or at least he didn't understand why his team would have that mindset.

"What are we looking ahead [for]?" he asked? If you're looking ahead, you're going to be looking ahead to the summer."

Fitting words as the Wolves host the Knicks tonight.

New York on paper is struggling mightily, and in their body language and words you can tell this a team begging for a win. It's survival mode at this point. Sitting 6 1/2 games out of eighth in the East, every game is important. And this Knicks team is still dangerous. When you have a core consisting of Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire--who is back in the starting lineup at this point--you have a chance to get hot on any given night.

The Wolves, who have won six of seven, are trying not to fall victim to this squad at home. Looking ahead is not an option tonight.

"This is a team that has players that you really don't understand what they're going through, you know, from afar," Adelman said. "I know a few weeks ago they lost 3-4 games where they got way ahead and then they let them get away in the end. Dirk hit that shot to beat them at the buzzer. Lately, they've been blown out pretty good. But I just don't, you can't expect that they're going to have an off game. You have to be ready for them. Those three guys present a real problem for you at the basket."

A couple other notes:

On last game's 64 free-throw attempts against Denver, Adelman said it was just one of those games: "I think it was aggressiveness. We got to the line; they did foul a lot," Adelman said. "And we took advantage of them being out of position, and of course they had to foul down the stretch. They were giving up two free throws for a 3-point shot. And it worked for a while there. I think it was just aggressiveness, though."

And when it comes to the transition game, Knicks coach Mike Woodson said it's essential to get back against Minnesota. "It’s very important," Woodson said. "When they’re rebounding the ball, they outlet at almost halfway up the court and Rubio and Martin and guys, Brewer, they’re pushing it. So we’ve got to make sure that we do get back in transition and match."

PREGAME 4:00 PM: Welcome back to Target Center, folks, as the Wolves return home to take on the New York Knicks tonight. Seems like a long time since the Timberwolves have played a home game, doesn’t it? That’s because it has been. Their last contest here in the Twin Cities was Feb. 19 in their win over the Indiana Pacers. That was two weeks ago.

A lot has happened since then. Minnesota went on a 4-1 road trip, and they’re all of a sudden a game over .500 with a chance to really climb in the wins column with the games coming up over the next week. Four games at home against four Eastern Conference opponents—only one of which is currently in the postseason. That should tell you something right there.

And tonight, they’re getting a Knicks team that really is pretty dejected. They’ve lost seven straight and 13 of 15 games heading into tonight after a pretty solid January. Minnesota, playing its best basketball of the season, is looking for a season sweep of the Knicks—and they’re getting New York at possibly its most vulnerable point of the year.

This morning at shootaround, coach Mike Woodson really looked like he was going through a rough time. He keeps getting questions from the New York media about the team’s struggles, and he’s having a tough time finding the right answer for the situation.

What’s for certain is this season, with all the aspirations of being a division champion and a playoff contender, has become one of the most trying of his career.

“We all still talk, and we’re just not getting it done right now on the basketball floor,” Woodson said this morning. So I think guys are OK, but they’re not happy about losing and I’m not happy about losing—not at all.”

If they want to stop their seven-game losing skid tonight, they’ll need to up their game in a couple areas that are definite mismatches against this Wolves squad. For one, the Knicks are not a strong rebounding team. They’re 27th in the league, while the Wolves are second with 54.9 boards per night. The Wolves are also eight in fast-break points per game, while the Knicks are 30th. So much of Minnesota’s success comes from transition points that demoralize the opponent, keep the game at the Wolves’ pace and creates easy points. The Knicks don’t play that style of ball, and they’ll want to keep the Wolves from doing so.

And quick starts are key for the Wolves. They’re first in the league with 28.5 points per game in the first quarter, while the Knicks are 24th with 23.9 points per game.

“It’s very important—they showed that in the first game at The Garden,” Woodson said. “… They had built such a big lead at home right out of the start, that we had to fight to get back. It’s going to be very important.”

One other thing to consider is the Wolves shoot a lot of free throws—28.0 per game, to be exact, which is the third best in the league. Minnesota shot 64 against the Nuggets on Monday, making 52 of them. The Knicks are shooting 19.6 per game, which is last in the NBA.

Here are a few notes about tonight’s game as we get set:

  • The Wolves trail in the all-time series 20-27, but are 12-11 at home. Minnesota snapped a four-game losing streak to the Knicks with a 109-100 win at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 3, 2013. Kevin Love led the Wolves with 34 points and 15 rebounds.


Wolves Notes

  • With a 30-29 record, the Wolves are currently 10th in the Western Conference, 4.5 games behind Phoenix and 4.0 games behind Memphis. The Wolves have a chance tonight to win four consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 7-15, 2012.

 

  • A win tonight would be the Wolves' seventh win in eight games, and mark the team's best eight-game stretch since winning seven of eight games from Jan. 2-19, 2009.

 

  • Kevin Love has posted four straight 30/15 games against New York, averaging 32.5 points, on 48.8% shooting, and 20.5 rpg during that stretch.

 

  • Love is averaging 32.8 points, 14.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists since Feb. 1 (11 games). He is shooting 47.0% (31-for-66) from three-point range during this stretch and has posted nine 30-10 games.

 

  • Love currently leads the NBA in double-doubles (50), 20/10 games (39, including his last 13 games) and 30/10 games (18). He ranks 4th in the league in scoring (26.6 ppg), 2nd in rebounding (13.2 rpg) and 2nd in free throws made (400). Love is also averaging 4.1 assists -- the last player to average 25+ points, 13+ rebounds and 4+ assists over a full season was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1975-76.

 

  • Ricky Rubio averaged 10.1 assists in 11 February games. He ranks 1st in the NBA in steals (2.42 spg) and 4th in assists (8.5 apg).

 

  • Corey Brewer ranks 12th in the NBA in steals at 1.67 spg. He has recorded 2 steals in each of the last four games. With his two steals at Sacramento on March 1, Brewer (394) passed Tom Gugliotta (391) for 4th on the Wolves' all-time steals list.

 

  • The Wolves set team records with 64 free throw attempts and 52 made free throws Monday at Denver. The 64 free throw attempts are the most by an NBA team since the Los Angeles Lakers shot 64 vs. Chicago on Nov. 19, 1999. The 52 made are the most since Phoenix made 61 vs. Utah on April 9, 1990.

 

  • Minnesota is 3rd in the NBA in free-throw attempts (28.0/game) and free throws made (21.7) At the other end, Wolves' opponents are attempting just 19.3 FTs per night, best in the NBA and the 4th-lowest single-season average in NBA history.


Knicks Notes

  • At 21-40, New York is 11th in the Eastern Conference, 6.5 games behind Atlanta for the final playoff spot. The Knicks have lost seven consecutive games and 13 of their last 15 games.

 

  • Carmelo Anthony is averaging 28.0 points (2nd in NBA) and a career-best 8.5 rebounds in an NBA- and career-high 39.1 minutes per game. He is averaging 30.3 ppg and 11.0 rpg in three games vs. Minnesota as a member of the Knicks.

 

  • Tyson Chandler is averaging 17.2 rebounds in the last six games, including two games with 20+ boards.




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