GameDay LIVE Blog: Wolves vs. Nuggets | Feb. 12, 2014
Final: Ballgame, folks. The Wolves head into the All-Star Break on a good note, beating the Nuggets 117-90 tonight at Target Center. K-Love finished with 32 points, 11 boards and eight assists, while Rubio had 11 and 12. Brewer with 22, plus Barea with 18 off the bench. All-around great night and much-needed win. Minnesota is 25-28 heading into the All-Star Break and will have a week to get ready for their next contest. More to come on Timberwolves.com in tonight's postgame access, so stay tuned. MIN 117, DEN 90
Q4 6:44: That should be the end of the night for the starters, who put on a nice showing tonight against the Nuggets. Love led the way with his 32-11-8, but Rubio also had 11 points and 12 assists. Corey Brewer with 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting, and Budinger added 12 of his own. Should be smooth sailing from here on out as the Wolves started inserting their bench players up 33. MIN 104, DEN 71
Q4 9:51: I think the starters will be done pretty soon here as the Wolves are up 34, but Love has 34 points, 11 boards and seven assists. Very close to that elusive triple-double. Rubio has 11 points and 12 assists--he just found Brewer underneath the hoop for a wide-open basket that put Brewer at 20 for the game. Love and Rubio are still in after this timeout. How much longer will they get run tonight? MIN 98, DEN 64
End Q3: Kevin Love with another ho-hum performance: He's got 32 points, 10 rebounds and five assists tonight. Corey Brewer brought the energy throughout the third with his breakaway dunks and has 16, while Budinger has 12 and Rubio/Barea each have 11. Rubio also picked up a double-double with 11 assists. For the Nuggets, not a lot is going right tonight. They're led by Hamilton's 12, Chandler's 12 and Hickson's 10. But fans at Target Center are getting a chance to see former Wolves forward Anthony Randolph getting some run, so there's that. MIN 89, DEN 64
Q3 2:43: Kevin Love has another double-double here tonight as he just tallied 27 points and 10 boards on the evening. Another great night for Love. Rubio right now has 10 points and nine assists, so he's nearing in on a double-double. But if you take Barea and lump his 11 points in with the five starters, that group of six has scored 77 of the team's 79 points. We'll see if that changes in the final 15 minutes of this game. MIN 79, DEN 60
Q3 5:54: Still smooth sailing for the Wolves here in the third as they lead by 19. Love is rolling with 25 points, nine boards and four assists. He's 10-of-17 from the field and 5-of-9 from 3-point range. Looks like that stroke is getting warmed up for All-Star Saturday Night. Brewer has 13 points, Budinger has 12 and Barea has 11. MIN 74, DEN 55
Halftime: Much-needed half for the Wolves jumping out to an early lead and never looking back. They led by as many as 24 late in the second, and they take a 20-point lead into the break led by Kevin Love's 17 points and eight boards. Both J.J. Barea and Corey Brewer have 11, Budinger has nine and Rubio has eight. They're shooting 55.3 percent from the floor and 53.3 percent from 3. The Nuggets have nine from Hamilton, eight from Hickson and six from Faried and Mozgov. They're shooting 38.6 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from beyond the arc. One area to watch right now that they normally excel in is getting to the line. They have three free-throw attempts tonight, while Denver has four. We'll see if that factors in later in this game. MIN 61, DEN 41
Q2 2:12: Just a couple notes here. One, the Wolves are leading by 20 and at one point had it up to 22. Two, Love is up to 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting and has eight assists. Ronny has eight assists, too. And Minnesota is shooting 57.1 percent overall tonight (50 percent from 3). The Nuggets are shooting 36.6 percent hand have 10 turnovers. MIN 55, DEN 35
Q2 5:10: Rubio is back in the game and playing in the back court side-by-side, which is a good thing because they're both having really good games. Barea has 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting and two assists, while Rubio has eight points on 4-of-4 shooting and six assists. Also, the "Strictly Spanish" videos used in game are phenomenal. Ricky just translated "honeycomb" in Spanish, just so you know. MIN 47, DEN 29
Q2 8:19: Fear not, ladies. Ricky is back. He must've gotten fixed up in the locker room after cutting his chin, but he's back on the bench now as the Wolves continue to harbor a 17-point lead. Love stepped up in Rubio's absence--he's got 12 points and seven boards on 5-of-9 shooting. And he hit 2-of-4 from 3-point range. Meanwhile, Barea stepped in and added four points and two assists. Nice to see Barea keeping Rubio's production up from the point guard spot. Last time these two teams played, the Nuggets got 48 points from their three point guards. This time around, it's the Wolves' point guards that are taking control. MIN 40, DEN 23
End Q1: Nice quarter for the Wolves, who forced eight turnovers and got off to a really fast start. Minnesota at one point had a 16-point lead, and it's still a sizable 31-19 advantage as we head into the second. Rubio leads the team with eight points on 4-of-4 shooting and also has five assists. Of the 13 Wolves field goals, Rubio had a part in nine of them. But he did leave the game late in the first with a chin laceration, and his return is probable. Love has seven points and five boards, Budinger has six points and Brewer has five. For the Nuggets, Hickson has six points while Foy and Hamilton each have five. MIN 31, DEN 19
Q1 3:57: Rubio is 4-of-4 with eight points and five assists in the first eight minutes, but he just took some contact to the face and started bleeding. Trainer Gregg Farnam just brought him back to the locker room as J.J. Barea checks in for him. MIN 26, DEN 14
Q1 4:58: The Wolves started this game on a 19-3 run. Denver cut it down a bit, but the lead is still double digits early on. MIN 22, DEN 10
Q1 7:41: Chase Budinger is doing some very Chase Budinger things here tonight. He's got six points on 2-of-2 shooting from behind the arc. Budinger had a 19-point and a 15-point performance this week, so it's good seeing his shot starting to fall consistently. The Wolves need that to continue throughout the second half. MIN 17, DEN 3
Q1 9:42: The Wolves came out running and playing active defense. They're up 7-0 on 3-of-5 shooting to start the game highlighted by a Chase Budinger 3-pointer and a pair of field goals by Ricky Rubio. The Nuggets are 0-for-2 from the field and have three turnovers that led to five Wolves points. MIN 7, DEN 0
Nuggets: PG-Randy Foye, SG-Wilson Chandler, SF-Darrell Arthur, PF-Kenneth Faried, C-J.J. Hickson
Wolves: PG-Ricky Rubio, SG-Chase Budinger, SF-Corey Brewer, PF-Kevin Love, C-Ronny Turiaf
PREGAME 6:30 PM: Wolves shooting guard Kevin Martin spoke to the media pregame for the first time since fracturing his left thumb in New Orleans last Friday night. Martin said it was a clean break and he has not resumed basketball activities. He plans to be re-evaluated on Friday, Feb. 22, before the team leaves for that long road trip out West.
"I hate sitting out so this is a tough time for me right now," Martin said. "But I’ll support my teammates any way I can and help the young guys through an NBA game, whatever help they need but when I go back in a couple of weeks and he says I’m good to go, then I’m okay to go.”
The injury happened with about 40 seconds left in that 98-91 road loss to New Orleans--he said the ball caromed off Corey Brewer's hand during a jump ball. At this point, he said there's not much he can do besides put it in a splint and let it heal.
As for the team's chances to keep their playoff hopes alive, Martin said it's been a tough stretch but he has belief in the club.
"We've got other guys. I think that Flip’s done a great job of building this team," Martin said. "Guys go down and step up. We know what we’re faced with right now. Reality is that the NBA doesn’t wait for anybody so guys have to step and I think they’re doing a good job.”
PREGAME 6:15 PM: Wolves coach Rick Adelman is back tonight. He missed Monday's game and Tuesday's practice due to personal reasons that were family-related. He spoke to the media minutes ago and was very much focused on the game at hand more than the missed time. With him back, the Wolves are looking to try and start momentum toward what will be an incredibly important stretch of games to begin the second half of the season. Minnesota needs to get on a run quickly here to get back on track. A win today would put them three games under .500 with 29 to play. A loss would put them five under.
"We’ve had a rough stretch. We have to have the mental toughness and the discipline to understand that this is a different game," Adelman said. "We put those behind us and we have to get this one before the All-Star Break and move on after that. I think it’s always a tough game when you’re going into the break, but this is a game that we really need, and hopefully our guys will be ready to play."
Part of that equation tonight is trying to slow the Nuggets down. They're banged up, no doubt about it, but they're by no means unable to push tempo like they always do. And coach Brian Shaw said pregame that since Denver has been struggling--they've lost three straight and eight of 12--they're trying new things all the time. He's not a big proponent of the zone defense, but he's been dabbling lately to try and get back on track. The point is the Nuggets still have a strong desire to compete and get back on track themselves, and the Wolves need to be ready.
"They’re going to attack you, I mean they still play the same way, I know they have the point guards out," Adelman said. "We have to be able to do that, but we’ve got to slow them down, you know. One of the things that happens when you lose a couple stars, you move guys into the starting lineup, you go to the second unit. I watched the game the other night, three minutes we don’t score and they just blow it open. That’s been a huge problem for us. So you start playing different people, the starters in the second group, it changes the way you play."
PREGAME 3:15 PM: Well, folks, we've arrived. It's Game 53 of the Timberwolves' season, which is their final contest before the All-Star Break. And it couldn't come at a better time for either of these squads. The Wolves have lost four of five and are still battling the injury bug with Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin. The Nuggets, as my colleague Kyle Ratke wrote in this morning's shootaround story, are dealing with Ty Lawson (ribs), Andre Miller (personal), Nate Robinson (knee), Danilo Gallinari (knee) and JaVale McGee (leg) missing time.
Which prompted Nuggets coach Brian Shaw to respond:
"Thank the Lord (the All-Star Break is here)," he said.
Denver beat Minnesota twice this year, and both times Minnesota felt like it could have walked away victorious. Coincidentally, the Nuggets and Wolves are a game apart in the Western Conference standings and currently hold the 10th and 11th places, respectively. The second loss, a 117-110 loss at home on Nov. 27, was probably the more devastating of the two given it happened at Target Center and dropped the Wolves under .500 for the first time this season. That started a tango with the .500 mark that lasted two months, and the Wolves have not been above .500 since.
In that particular game, Ty Lawson, Andre Miller and Nate Robinson combined for 48 points.
As for the Wolves, Shaw said at shootaround Love is still healthy. And when Love's still healthy, you can't underestimate the impact he can have on scoring, rebounding and passing the ball in transition and half-court sets. And they still have Corey Brewer and Ricky Rubio pushing tempo and setting the tone.
Long Corey Short: The Wolves still present matchup issues.
"They still have Corey Brewer is one of the best lane runners in the league," Shaw said. "He’s going to get out and try to create havoc defensively. You know, Budinger is a good all around player and you know, Rubio who can actually distrute the ball and get everyone involved and get everyone involved and make you pay for mistakes and then my biggest concern is probably Barea and Cunningham off the bench. Barea in the first game in Denver hurt us a little bit with his ability to score… Cunninham’s abilty to pick and pop.”
Here are some game notes for tonight's game: