Pekovic Leads Way As Wolves Top Bulls, 82-75
Web Editorial Associate
The Timberwolves came away with a tightly contested 82-75 victory over the Chicago Bulls Saturday night and improved to 2-1 during this young preseason slate.
“Both teams had a lot of fouls the first half, but we stayed with it,” coach Rick Adelman said after the game, “and I thought in the fourth quarter we were really good defensively. It's was a good teaching game being an exhibition, but it was good to get the win."
[Related Content: CLICK HERE for a running blog with updates throughout Saturday's 82-75 win against the Bulls]
Despite shooting just 32% from the floor, Minnesota outscored Chicago 24-15 in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Nikola Pekovic led the Timberwolves with 16 points and 17 rebounds, both marks that led the team. Alexey Shved scored 15 points off the bench—including 12 in the second half.
“He made some big shots and made nice drives,” coach Adelman said of Shved. “It's good to have two guys that can handle the ball. He got a good experience there. I think it's a different arena for him. I thought tonight he stepped up and made some shots and made good plays.”
The good news for Minnesota was that as much as they struggled to score the basketball, Chicago had it just as tough. Led by Kirk Hinrich (15 points) and Joakim Noah (14), the Bulls felt the absence of inactive scorers Derrick Rose, Rip Hamilton and Luol Deng. Chicago, who drops to 1-2 during the preseason, shot 23% from the three-point line and gave up 21 points off of 23 turnovers.
Kevin Love and Andrei Kirilenko rested up tonight, but the Timberwolves insist that it’s nothing to worry about. Roy explained that preseason is the best time to ease a player back into the NBA grind.
“You want to start getting into your rhythm,” Brandon Roy said. “You have to be ready to step in. The good thing about it is that we can afford to rest guys.”
Leader of the Pack
Nikola Pekovic racked up 16 points and 17 rebounds in a game where baskets were hard to come by. While the Timberwolves shot 32% as a team, Pekovic converted 5 of 9 attempts and added six more points via the free throw line. He did the dirty work that needed to be done in a game that was far from pretty.
“Pek was huge, not just tonight but all three games,” Brandon Roy said after the game. “He’s done a good job of sealing up the paint. They had some big dudes who crashed the boards—I thought he did a good job of banging with them.”
The 17 rebounds that Pekovic collected were the most from a Timberwolves player in the preseason in five years.
“Yeah, and also in my career probably, most rebounds,” Pekovic said after learning of his milestone. “Yeah, it’s a good feeling to win every game, especially against the Chicago Bulls. They’re a great team, but they were missing Derrick Rose. We were missing players too, but it was a great win.”
Highlight of the Night
In a 10-second span with three minutes left in the game, Lou Amundson blocked Chicago forward Taj Gibson at the rim and raced down to the offensive end. J.J. Barea launched a corner three-pointer that bounced off the rim, only to have Amundson tip slam the ball with two hands. Chicago proceeded to call a timeout with the score at 77-68, and Minnesota held on to claim the victory.
“Those are the kind of things that I do,” Amundson said afterwards. “We made a couple big plays to really seal the deal. It was a tough game all night—no rhythm. We kept our composure and kept fighting. We made a few plays, and that was the difference.”
The Numbers Game
- With the Wolves down 66-65 at the 8:15 mark of the fourth quarter, Minnesota went on a 16-4 run over the next seven minutes to take an 81-70 lead.
- At one point in the fourth quarter, Chicago missed 11 straight shots.
- Rick Adelman started his third different lineup in as many games tonight; Ridnour, Roy, Budinger, Cunningham and Pekovic made up Minnesota's starting five. Only Roy and Pekovic have started all three preseason contests.
- Bulls guard Jimmy Butler played the entire game, scoring nine points and grabbing eight rebounds throughout his 48 minutes of playing time.
Quote of the night
“Last year I was working to get minutes, and this year I must work. I earned those minutes so you know I can stay there. I can’t just say, ‘coach, get me to play 35 minutes, that’s fine, I’ll stop working.’ I will work even more so that the coach can see he didn’t miss why he gave me the minutes to play. That’s what I’m doing, that’s how I’ll keep doing it.” — Nikola Pekovic
Next Up The Timberwolves will take Sunday off and then begin preparing for Maccabi Bazan Haifa, an Israeli team that will play against Minnesota at the Target Center on October 16. Tipoff is set for 7 P.M.