GameDay LIVE Blog: Wolves vs. Pelicans | Jan. 1, 2014
GameDay LIVE Blog: Wolves 124, Pelicans 112
Final: That's a wrap here at Target Center as the Wolves begin the 2014 calendar year unbeaten with a 124-112 win over the Pelicans. Really a nice showing from start to finish, especially coming off that tough loss against Dallas. Minnesota got 22 points and seven boards from Pek, 21 points and six rebounds from Love, 20 points from K-Mart and 14 points, nine assists and eight boards from Rubio. Huge help from the bench, too, as Barea added 17 and DC and Shved each had 10. Much more to come on this win tonight, so stay tuned and enjoy the rest of your New Years Day. MIN 124, NOP 112
Q4 2:18 Barea just hit another 3. This is one of his best games of the season--he's 7-of-9 (3-of-5 from distance) and has 17 points to go along with five assists. It looks lilke as we come out of the timeout we might see Gorgui Dieng, A.J. Price and Shabazz Muahmmad enter the game. MIN 122, NOP 104
Q4 4:36: Rubio continues to put up nice numbers across the board tonight. He's got 14 points to go along with nine assists and eight boards, and depending on how many more minutes he plays in this blowout he does have a shot at a triple-double. Meanwhile, Barea has 14 points off the bench while Shved and Cunningham each have 10. MIN 117, NOP 95
Q4 8:27: We've said it a few times in the last week but when Shved and Barea are on, it helps so much with the Wolves' bench scoring. They've got 19 combined points tonight on 6-of-10 shooting. They've also hit a combined three 3-pointers. MIN 106, NOP 86
End Q3: The Wolves put up 36 in that quarter and turned this game into a blowout session. Nice to see the Wolves respond like this after a tough loss to Dallas on Monday. Love leads the team with 21 points, while Pek has 20, Martin has 18 and Rubio has 14 points, eight assists and six boards. A legit question is how much time the starters will get in the fourth quarter. Adelman is starting out this quarter with Barea-Shved-Mbah a Moute-DC-Love. MIN 97, NOP 75
Q3 1:37: Minnesota is cruising right now. They've opened up a 91-68 lead and have led by as many as 30 here in the third. A few stat lines to pass along: Pek has 20 points, Martin with 18 (eight this quarter), Love with 17 and Rubio with 14. MIN 91, NOP 68
Halftime: The Wolves have a 61-47 halftime lead thanks in large part to 16 Pelicans turnovers and shooting 18-of-24 from the line. Most of Minnesota's opponents don't get 24 free-throw attempts in a game, which gives you perspective on how much the Wolves can affect games by getting to the stripe. Pek has 14 points, while Love, K-Mart and Rubio each have 10. The Wolves are shooting 51.3 percent from the field, including 6-of-9 shooting from their bench. For New Orleans, Holiday has 11 while Davis and Evans each have eight. MIN 61, NOP 47
Q2 2:55: We've got another impostor Pierre the Pelican at this timeout. This time it's a penguin. Thank goodness it's not the real Pierre. He haunts my dreams. That being said, if I see him at All-Star Weekend I'm going to chase him down for a photo. No question. MIN 52, NOP 43
Q2 5:42: The Pelicans are beginning to control the paint over the last 10 minutes or so and hold a 26-16 edge in the paint. Fortunately for the Wolves, New Orleans has turned the ball over 11 times. The Wolves need to take advantage of those miscues. MIN 42, NOP 37
Q2 9:23: A couple developments here. One, Barea and Shved are a combined 3-o-f3 from the field (2-of-2 from 3) for 10 points. Very nice to see that production from that duo. Second, the Strictly Spanish with Ricky Rubio segment might be a new favorite of mine in 2014. Come down to Target Center to see that. Third, Crunch just showed up on the court with a duck mascot that looks like a much friendlier version of Pierre the Pelican. Love it. MIN 40, NOP 32 End Q1: Good news in the bench department: The Wolves have seven points from their reserves (Shved w/ a corner 3, two more from Barea & Cunningham), which is two more than the five the bench scored in Monday's loss to Dallas. The bench is currently 3-of-3 from the field. Meanwhile, Love has eight points and two boards, and Pek, Martin and Rubio each have six. Davis leads the Pelicans with eight, while Holiday has six on 3-of-5 shooting. MIN 33, NOP 28
Q1 2:50: The Wolves started out the game 4-of-5 from the field but have gone 2-of-12 since. On the bright side, however, Minnesota has gotten to the line 11 times in the first 10 minutes. Free throws have been a big advantage for the Wolves this year, and it's a big reason why it's a two-point deficit. The Pelicans are shooting 10-of-19 from the field, led by eight from Davis and six from Holiday. Pek, Martin and Rubio all with six for Minnesota, while Love has three. NOP 23, MIN 21
Q1 6:16: Adelman said pregame that the Wolves should be able to score inside against the Pelicans, and if you remember last year against the then-Hornets they did just that in a few of their head-to-head matchups. So far tonight, Minnesota has scored eight of its 12 points in the paint. Unfortunately, the Wolves have missed their last five shots the Pelicans just took a 15-12 lead. All five Pelicans starters have scored, while four of the Wolves' five are on the board. NOP 15, MIN 12
Pelicans: PG-Jrue Holiday, SG-Eric Gordon, SF-Al-Farouq Aminu, PF-Ryan Anderson, C-Anthony Davis
Wolves: PG-Ricky Rubio, SG-Kevin Martin, SF-Corey Brewer, PF-Kevin Love, C-Nikola Pekovic
PREGAME 6:20 PM: Anthony Davis was the consensus No. 1 overall pick two Drafts ago--a sure thing at that top spot compared to the merry-go-round we encountered last June. And while he had a strong rookie season, we're starting to see the Pelican really reap the benefits of his play in Year 2. He's proving he really is the total package on both ends of the floor, not only being able to put up 20 points per game and grab double-digit rebounds but also protect the rim with the ferocity he showcased in his lone season at Kentucky.
For Pelicans coach Monty Williams, his maturity and work ethic in the offseason is a big part of it.
Davis added 10-12 pounds during the offseason and continues to try and bulk up. It shows. His body looks to be more fit for handling the wear and tear of a physical league, and he's taking constructive criticism about how to improve his game on a nightly basis from his head coach.
"I'll tell him after the game what I think of his play, and you know he bounces back," Williams said. "He doesn't pout or call his agent or cry about it. He comes right back the next day and gets right to work. To me, that's a sign of a guy who is a lot more mature than his age."
Williams said the work ethic he possesses has a lot to do with it, and talking with Davis you get a sense for what motivates him. He was a major catalyst for an incredibly talented Wildcats crew in college that systematically rolled to the 2012 national title. Each game, in his words, was a road block in the way of their ultimate goal. He seemed to carry that same mentality into his professional career both on the court and in his training sessions.
"I just think he put the work in in the weight room and it gave him a lot of confidence," Williams said. "And like i said, he'll have days where he doesn't play well--his numbers tell a different story. But he and I both know he could've played a lot better, and the next day he'll come back in and gets after it."
So how do the Wolves combat his play? At 6-foot-10 and 220 pounds, Davis is an athletic big who can protect the rim, grab alley-oops and play above the rim. But with the Wolves, Nikola Pekovic holds a 65-pound weight advantage. They'll need to use his physicality to break away a path to the hoop tonight.
"We have to go to out and I think you can score inside against them," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "They're better off the ball when they're coming at you, so we have to do a good job moving them around. But you're right, they do present a problem there."
Adelman, too, said Davis has improved from Year 1 to Year 2.
"He's a really active player," Adelman said. "And he's gotten better this year. He can hurt you rolling to the basket, shooting the mid-range jumpers. He leads the league in blocks. He's really become a player."
PREGAME 3:30 PM: Happy New Year to you, and welcome to Target Center for the Timberwolves’ first regular season game of 2014. Tonight we’ll see the New Orleans Pelicans for the first time since that mascot change from the Hornets last offseason—tipoff is set for 7 PM on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM.
The Pelicans are a young, scrappy and athletic team that poses issues for their opponents on a nightly basis. They’re 14-15 on the year and sit tied with Minnesota (15-16) for ninth in the Western Conference. Needless to say, this is another crucial home game for the Timberwolves as they try to keep themselves in position to make the postseason this year.
They’ll have their hands full against New Orleans. The Pelicans are benefitting from continued strong play on both ends of the floor by Anthony Davis inside. The second-year big man is showing exactly why he was worth the first overall pick last year—he’s averaging 19.5 points per game to go along with 10.5 boards and an NBA-leading 3.2 blocks per game. It’s the type of rim protection that can alter games, and the Wolves will need to find a way to combat that tonight. Minnesota has a much more bruising answer for the Pelicans, as Davis will need to deal with Nikola Pekovic throughout the evening.
In the back court, All-Star Jrue Holiday has made a big difference helping this team manage the offense. He was a big pick up this offseason in a draft-night trade that sent Nerlens Noel to Philadelphia. And tonight, shooting guard Eric Gordon will re-join him in the back court. Gordon missed the last three contests with a hip injury, but he said he’ll be in the lineup tonight.
“We’ll give it a go tonight,” Gordon said at shootaround. “It’s good to be back out there.”
When you look at this roster, you do see a lot of potential in the way Holiday, Gordon, Davis, Tyreke Evans and Ryan Anderson can work together. And it sounds as though Monty Williams’ crew is approaching things similar to how the Wolves are trying to early on in this season.
“I wouldn’t categorize anything [we’ve done] as success right now, and that’s maybe why we’ve been able to play with a chip on our shoulders,” Williams said. “We just don’t feel like we’ve done anything, and to be honest with you we haven’t. We’re a team that’s moving in the right direction, but we have a long ways to go.”
Here are a few notes to get started here as we get closer to gametime. I’ll have updates after the coaches talk later this afternoon. See you in a bit.