Wolves Finish Comeback, Top Sixers 106-99

Wolves Finish Comeback, Top Sixers 106-99

Well, they waited a while, messed with the emotions of fans and probably stressed coach Rick Adelman out to the max, but the Minnesota Timberwolves came away with a 106-99 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night at the Target Center.

After playing subpar basketball for the first 24 minutes of the game, the Wolves came out firing in the fourth quarter, erasing a 19-point lead and outscored the 76ers 28-18 in the fourth quarter to put their record back to .500.

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Wolves vs. Sixers

The win over the 76ers (who were without rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams), moved the Wolves to 11-11 and gives Minnesota its second consecutive win. Many have pointed out that the Eastern Conference is having a down season. It looked like Brett Brown’s squad ignored that early on.

Whether it was the cause of a back-to-back or just an off night, the Wolves came out of the gates struggling, trailing 39-20 after the end of the first quarter. The Wolves were able to get the score to 23-20 with 3:02 left, thanks to nine points from Ricky Rubio, but the Sixers went on a 16-0 run to close the quarter thanks to 10 points from Evan Turner and nine points courtesy of James Anderson. Philadelphia shot an amazing 77.3 percent (17-of-22) in the first quarter compared to Minnesota’s mark of 30.8 percent (8-of-26). Rubio led the Wolves with nine points while Nikola Pekovic added six points and three rebounds.

“Obviously the first quarter was awful,” Adelman said. “A young team, we know exactly what they are going to do, they are going to run it down the court and try to attack the basket as quickly as they can and they just got it going and got us on our heels.”

The Wolves made up some ground in the second quarter, but Philadelphia didn’t back down. Minnesota looked like it was making a comeback, trailing 44-32 with six minutes left in the first half after a Kevin Love layup and a Pekovic tip in. Not so fast, said Philadelphia. The 76ers outscored the Wolves 17-16 the rest of the quarter, to go into half with a 61-48 lead. Turner went into the break with 13 points, while Thaddeus Young added 12. Center Spencer Hawes finished with 11. The Sixers kept their hands hot, finishing the half shooting 63.4 percent while having 18 fast-break points compared to Minnesota’s seven.

Love led Minnesota with 15 points and six rebounds, while Rubio had 14 points. Pekovic added 10 points and six rebounds. Those three were a combined 14-of-24. The rest of the Wolves were just 3-of-22. Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer were a combined 0-for-11. Minnesota went into half shooting 37 percent.

The third quarter was a different story. The Wolves outscored the 76ers by 10 in the quarter and they were able to cut the deficit to 81-78 thanks to big quarters from Love (7 points) and Rubio (5 points). The fourth quarter was more of the same for the Wolves, as they outscored the 76ers 28-18, in big part to Robbie Hummel, who played in just 48 seconds before the fourth quarter. Hummel finished with 10 points while hitting 2-of-3 3-pointers in the quarters and hit the dagger to give the Wolves their first lead, erasing a 19-point deficit.

“He made shots but he also made a nice job defensively on the boards, too,” Adelman said about Hummel. “He gave us the spark we needed.” The win wasn’t how the Wolves drew it up, but at the end of the day, in a tough Western Conference, a win is a win.

“It was a really tough first half, we didn’t really show how we wanted to play,” Pekovic said. “…I think from the very first moment in the second half, we stepped it up and you know, played good defense and it was the result of this win.”

Tony Wroten and Hawes each scored 20 points for the 76ers. Young and Anderson added 16 each, while Turner struggled in the second half, finishing with 16 points. Despite their second-half collapse, the 76ers still shot 52.7 percent from the field.

Love led the Wolves with 26 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. Rubio had a season-high 21 points (the six time he’s had 20 or more points in a game in his career) to go with seven assists, five rebounds and three steals. Rubio was 2-of-3 from the 3-point line. Pekovic had his 10th double-double of the season, scoring 20 points while hauling in 10 rebounds. Brewer had a nice second half, scoring 10 points.

Leader of the Pack: Kevin Love

Postgame Podcast

with John Focke

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At the beginning of the season, Flip Saunders asked Love if he wanted to be apart of the 20 point, 10 rebound and five assist club. If Wednesday night’s game was any indication, Love’s answer was yes. Love finished with 26 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. He also added two steals. This season, Love is averaging 23.8 points, 13.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists.

Highlight of the Night

With 8:27 left in the game, fan-favorite Robbie Hummel nailed a corner 3-pointer to give the Wolves an 87-86 lead, their first lead of the night. Philadelphia at one time led by 19 points. The Wolves went on a 19-13 run to close the game out.

The Numbers Game

  • The Wolves came into the game 1-5 on the second game of back-to-backs this season. With Wednesday’s win, they moved to 2-5.

  • It was Love’s 19th 20/10/5 game in his career, third most in Timberwolves history. Kevin Garnett had 230, while Tom Gugliotta had 25.

  • Evan Turner had nine turnovers. The Wolves had just 13 as a team. The Wolves forced 26 turnovers, a season high.

  • Quote of the Night

    “It was pretty obvious, you shouldn’t have to say much. The way we started the game, we have to learn a lesson, when you get a nice win last night it means nothing tonight and you better understand that.” — Wolves coach Rick Adelman on what he said at halftime to his team

    Looking Ahead

    The Wolves take a two-day break before heading to San Antonio to play the Spurs. You might recall, the Wolves were supposed to play the Spurs last Wednesday in Mexico City. This is not the rescheduled game, however. Minnesota will host San Antonio later in the season. Friday night’s game is set for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff on Fox Sports North and WCCO 830-AM.

    For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com