Love, Martin Push Wolves Past Mavericks, 116-108
Love, Martin Push Wolves Past Mavericks, 116-108
Kevin Martin played on enough teams early on in his career where he was the primary option on offense with no scorers that could keep the defense’s attention late in games. And in this league, a team with one viable scoring option late in games doesn’t always translate into wins.
So when he went to Oklahoma City last year and saw what the combination of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook could do together, he came to a realization.
“I wasn’t going to another team without a superstar,” Martin said. “And that’s what I have in Kevin Love.”
Truth be told, it was a good night to be a Kevin.
Wolves vs. Mavericks
The Wolves showed definitively that they are not a team with one late-game option, with Martin and Love trading baskets late when it mattered and willing the Wolves to victory. The two combined for 17 points in the frame (12 from Martin) and a combined 6-of-8 shooting as Dallas tried to keep the game close but couldn’t match Minnesota’s two-man fire power.
Love set the tone from the start, putting up nine points, six boards and six assists in the first quarter alone while hitting a streaking Corey Brewer in transition time and time again in the first half. That combination of scoring and facilitating opened up opportunities for his teammates, and that all culminated in Minnesota turning a three-point game with 3:34 to play into a 12-point advantage with 20.3 to play.
Because when Love showcases his all-around ability to score, rebound and create for others, what is a defense going to do? And when that doubt starts creeping into the opponents’ minds, it opens up floor space for a pure shooter like Martin to put the game out of reach.
If the Wolves are going to make a run this season, that’s going to be a big part down the stretch.
“You can’t speak enough about just having the team that will play team ball down the stretch and not just one guy iso-ing,” Martin said. “it worked for us tonight, and we’ve got to continue to keep on building on those moments. Because those are the moments in the last two minutes where you can have a 30-50 season compared to a 50-30 season, because a lot of the games come down to the last three minutes.”
The Wolves started strong and built a 10-point lead in the first quarter thanks in part to the Montana-Rice….I mean Love-Brewer connection running the floor. Dallas made a run of its own in the second quarter, took a lead into halftime but couldn’t hold onto the lead as the Wolves took a four-point lead into the fourth. That’s when Love and Martin took over.
“We talked about getting in our two-man game in that fourth quarter, and you know we happened to be fortunate enough to knock down those shots and put the game out of reach.”
Coach Rick Adelman talked about finding out what type of team the Wolves are during these two home games and the two road contests in Los Angeles on Sunday and Monday. The Wolves proved they have some fight and some late-game ability on this night at Target Center.
“You have to have it in this league,” Adelman said. “If you don’t have somebody to go and finish a game, you’re going to have a hard time.”
Aside from Love and Martin scoring 32 each, Brewer had 17 points, Nikola Pekovic had 15 points and six rebounds, and Ricky Rubio had six points and four assists.
Monta Ellis led the Mavs with 23 points, while Jose Calderon had 21 points and knocked down 6-of-8 shots from 3-point range. Dirk Nowitzki had 14 points but was limited to just 6-fo-11 shooting. Shawn Marion and Jae Crowder each had 10 points.
Leader of the Pack: Kevin Love
I’m beginning to detect a theme here. Love continues to play incredible basketball, and it continued on Friday night right from the start. Love was really unstoppable around the basket, and it showed with his usual 32-point, 15-rebound performance. But the kicker was his passing. He had a collection of outlet assists to Corey Brewer on the night, and he ended up with eight assists on the evening. Love will always get his points and boards, but it’s encouraging to see how much he’s finding his teammates this season. All-around nice game for the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week.
Highlight of the Night
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle talked at length about Kevin Love’s ability to hit his teammates with outlet passes that soar the length of the court. So Dallas was very aware of that possibility coupled with the quick play of Corey Brewer—who played for Dallas in their championship year. So what happened? Love hit Brewer with a pair of full-court outlet passes within the first four minutes of the ballgame and sent the Wolves off to a fast 12-4 start.
The Numbers Game
Quote of the Night
“I was just going to say Brewer’s the best leak-out guy in the league. I don’t know if that’s a compliment or not.” — Wolves guard Kevin Martin joking about Corey Brewer’s transition scoring
The Timberwolves will have a practice day on Saturday before flying out to the West Coast for back-to-backs against the Lakers and Clippers in Los Angeles. Minnesota will try to snap a 22-game losing streak to the Lakers on Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. CT, then follow it up with a 9:30 p.m. matchup against the Clippers on Monday. Both games will be on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-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