Wolves Knock Off Blazers 120-109
Wolves Knock Off Blazers 120-109
To say that Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love “got it going early” wouldn’t be doing him justice.
We could say that Love finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. That would be a good game for a lot of players. But Love had that just 14 minutes and 28 seconds into the game. The Wolves learned later in the game that they needed every bit of Love’s first half magic.
Wolves vs. Blazers
Love needed just one assist to get his first career triple-double.
“You know, he almost had a triple-double at halftime,” said Wolves head coach Rick Adelman. “So, it’s, he’s been playing just great. Tonight was another example of that.” Portland looked like it might have the edge going into the game with Kevin Martin (knee) and Dante Cunningham (ankle) both being questionable. Plus, at 22-4, Portland had the best record in the league.
Both Martin and Cunningham played and Wolves came out of the gate hot, having all five starters score in the first seven minutes of the game. That helped the Wolves get out to 31-22 first quarter lead, ending it on an 11-4 run.
Martin led all Wolves at the end of the first with nine points. Kevin Love finished with a line of six points, nine rebounds and five assists, putting the crowd on triple-double alert. Nikola Pekovic scored eight points while shooting 4-of-4 in the quarter.
The Wolves shot 14-25 from the field, despite going 0-for-3 from the 3-point line.
Nicolas Batum led Portland with nine points, but the other Blazer starters combined for just nine points in the quarter. Portland had nine rebounds in the quarter compared to Minnesota’s mark of 15.
That really seemed to set the tone in the second quarter thanks to a group effort and some more magic from Love. With 4:51 left in the first half, the Wolves took a 62-30 lead, leaving the Target Center on its feet and the Portland bench in awe. The Wolves ended up outscoring the Blazers 38-21 in the quarter, taking a 69-43 lead going into half.
Love and Pekovic led all scorers with 17 points. Love nearly had a triple-double at the break, adding 11 rebounds and eight assists. Martin added 11 points. At the break, the Wolves shot 58.8 percent.
Damian Lillard, who had 10 points, led the Blazers. The trio of LaMarcus Aldridge, Batum and Wes Matthews had nine points each. In the first half, Portland’s bench scored just six points.
The true test for the Wolves would come in the second half, though.
After a Lillard 3-pointer with 3:27 left in the third, the Blazers got within 10, 80-70. The Wolves then went on an 18-8 run, thanks to two 3-pointers from J.J. Barea. The Wolves knew the third quarter run was coming, but it was just about surviving it and the Wolves did that, leading 98-78 at the end of the third.
There was another run coming, though.
The Blazers continued to chip away at the Wolves in the fourth quarter and finally got within five with 49.7 seconds, in big part from the play of Lillard who scored 26 points in the second half.
Thankfully, for Wolves (and the stress level of their fans), they were able to survive the comeback effort to come away with the win.
“It gives us confidence that we got this win,” said Wolves wing Corey Brewer, who had a big steal at the end of the game. “They are the best team in the league if you look at it record-wise. For us to come in and get a win and sustain that run in the third quarter is big for us.”
Pekovic was just one point off his career-high, finishing with 30 points and nine rebounds, while shooting 14-of-19 from the field. Martin scored 22 points while playing nearly 37 minutes.
Wolves 120, Blazers 109
With the win, the Wolves not only made a statement across the league, they also moved back to .500, sitting at 13-13.
Leader of the Pack: Kevin Love
While Love couldn’t get the triple-double, he still showed why he is one of the most versatile players in the league, hauling in a game-high 15 rebounds, while dishing out a game-high nine assists. He was also 4-of-7 from the 3-point line, opening things up inside for Pekovic.
Highlight of the Night
With 5:59 left in the first quarter, Ricky Rubio stole a Nicolas Batum pass, dribbled through Batum’s legs at half court before passing it to a wide-open Kevin Martin who finished with an easy dunk, giving the Wolves a 16-11 lead.
The Numbers Game
Quote of the Night
“When you pull up at 45 feet, you know, you don’t expect that and usually if a guy does that, when he misses one or two, that’s about it. He’s got a nice variety to his game. He’s got a really nice first step… In that fourth quarter he was just drilling it, we were on him trying to bother the shot, but it didn’t seem like it was bothered too much.” – Wolves head coach Rick Adelman on trying to stop Damian Lillard, who had nine points in the fourth quarter while making three 3-pointers.
The Wolves will head out to Los Angeles for the second time this season on Friday when they play at the STAPLES Center against the Lakers at 9:30 p.m. Two days later, they will play the Clippers in the same building at 8:30 p.m.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com