Wolves Rebound, Beat Bucks 112-101

Despite slow and unenthusiastic start against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night at the Target Center, the Minnesota Timberwolves were able to come away with a 112-101 win over their border rivals. That was due mostly to a big third quarter from Kevin Martin and Kevin Love.

In the bigger picture of things, the win marked Minnesota’s 32nd win of the season, the team’s most in a season since the 2006-07 season when the team also won 32 games. The year before, Minnesota won 33 games under Dwane Casey. That’s the next benchmark in sight as the Wolves prepare to face Charlotte on Friday.

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Wolves vs. Bucks

The first quarter wasn’t great for the Wolves, down 33-28 to a 13-win team. But judging by the fact that the Bucks started out shooting 12-of-12, maybe the Wolves were a bit lucky to be down just five.

“They really shot the ball well,” said Wolves head coach Rick Adelman after the game. “… I thought they were going to set some sort of record.”

The Bucks expanded their lead in the second quarter, thanks to some hot shooting (58.5 percent) compared to Minnesota’s mark of 46.8 percent. J.J. Barea and Martin kept the Wolves in the game. Barea, after struggling as of late, led the Wolves with 17 points off the bench, going 6-of-7. Martin had 14 points. Brandon Knight led Milwaukee with 14 points.

“I was able to be aggressive,” Barea said.

And that’s when the Wolves woke up.

For most players, nine points in a half isn’t considered a “slow” half. For Love, that isn’t the case. Love got the Wolves back into the game in the third, eventually giving them an 87-84 lead. Love started the Wolves off hot in the quarter, scoring his eight points in the first six minutes. The other Kevin wasn’t so bad in the quarter either, as Martin scored 12 points in the quarter.

“The game just wasn’t going his (Love’s) way,” Adelman said. “But he persevered.”

Did he ever. Love would add on 10 more points in the fourth quarter, to help the Wolves outscore the Bucks 26-17 in the final 12 minutes. Love finished with a game-high 27 points to go with 10 rebounds and six assists. Martin added 26 points.

Barea had a bench-high 19 points, and more importantly, gained some confidence in the process. Ricky Rubio had a double-double, with 11 points and 10 assists. He also had three steals. The Wolves shot 48.2 percent from the field.

The Bucks were led by Knight, who finished with 21 points. Rookie and St. Cloud-native Nate Wolters had 14 points for Milwaukee, shooting 5-of-6 from the field. Jeff Adrien had 12 points off the bench, while Khris Middleton and Ramon Sessions had 11 points each. The Bucks shot 52.7 percent.

The Wolves are now 32-31 overall.

Leader of the Pack: Kevin Love

Love again was able to lead the Wolves in a variety of categories. If it was Barea that led the Wolves in the first half, it was Love who led the way in the second, leading the Wolves to a win and keeping them in the playoff hunt. Love had a game-high 27 points and a game-high 10 boards. Only Rubio and Zaza Pachulia (a career-high) had more assists.

Highlight of the Night

Minnesota power forward Dante Cunningham swatted an Adrien shot about five rows into the seats when Adrien tried to go up for a layup. The Wolves forced a turnover and it ended up in Nikola Pekovic hitting one of two free throws to put the team’s deficit to 40-36.

The Numbers Game

  • Barea started off the game 6-of-6 for 15 points. In his previous three games, Barea was just 5-of-25 for a total of 14 points.

  • Tonight marked the second time this season the Wolves have come back from a 10 point plus deficit to win.

  • With 11 points and 10 assists, Rubio finished with his 10th double-double of the season.

  • The Wolves forced 15 Milwaukee turnovers compared to just seven. Minnesota turned those turnovers into 30 points.

  • Postgame Podcast

    Wolves vs. Bucks

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  • Led by Rubio’s three steals, Minnesota had nine steals. Milwaukee had just three.

  • Quotable

    “I was due.” — Wolves guard J.J. Barea joked after the game. Barea exploded for 19 points after scoring in double-digits for the last three.

    Next Up

    The Wolves hit the road to play Al Jefferson and the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night at 6 p.m. The game will air on Fox Sports North and WCCO 830-AM. The Wolves come right back home on Sunday and host the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night at 6 p.m.

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