Wolves Storm Pacers, 104-91
All-Star Kevin Love didn’t get much of an All-Star Break, as he was a starter for the Western Conference on Sunday.
Apparently Love is just fine with little rest as he had a huge first quarter that led the Wolves to a 104-93 win over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night at the Target Center.
The win put the Wolves a little closer to the eighth seed in the West, but there’s still a lot of work to do.
Wolves vs. Pacers
The Wolves jumped out to an early 36-30 lead with 8:41 left in the first half thanks to some great play from Love. Love was 4-of-6 at that point, and nearly had a double-double, having 12 points and nine rebounds.
Minnesota eventually took a 20-point lead, but thanks to 15 first-half points from Paul George, the Pacers reeled back within 52-39 at the end of the first half. But still, leading the Eastern Conference’s best team by 13 was pretty impressive. Wolves head coach Rick Adelman knew though, that a run was coming from Indiana.
And that’s exactly what happened. The Pacers got within five points in the third quarter.
“My back was hurting when they got within five,” Adelman joked after the game. “We’ve done that before.”
The Wolves were able to close the quarter out, leading 82-72 and would outscore the Pacers 22-19 to clinch the victory.
Love led Minnesota with 42 points and 16 rebounds while shooting 14-22 from the field and 5-of-10 from the 3-point line. Ricky Rubio had a career-high 17 assists. Corey Brewer and J.J. Barea had 12 points each. Ronny Turiaf and Dante Cunningham had 11 and 10 points respectively, although Turiaf did leave the game in the second half due to a right leg injury.
George led Indiana with 35 points and 11 rebounds, but did commit seven turnovers. George Hill added 10 points while Lance Stephenson added 10 points and 10 rebounds. No other Indiana player scored more than six points, though.
The Wolves are now 26-28, 5.5 games back from eighth place in the Western Conference.
“This is the first one,” Adelman said. “I’m not looking past tonight.”
Leader of the Pack: Kevin Love
As stated earlier, Love got things going… but the thing is, he didn’t stop. Love led all players in points (42) and rebounds (16) and was extremely efficient from the field. If anyone needed vindication that Love was an All-Star starter, they got in on Wednesday.
But only one assist? Well, you can’t pass it to yourself, can you?
Adelman summed it up pretty well after the game.
“Kevin Love was amazing.”
No arguing here, coach.
Highlight of the Night
Talk about setting the tone early on national TV… Minnesota did exactly that and jumped out to a 23-10 lead early after a big Corey Brewer dunk. Indiana coach Frank Vogel was forced to call a timeout. The Wolves went on to win the quarter 30-18 thanks to some fantastic play from Love, Brewer and Rubio. Love finished the quarter with a game-high 12 points, shooting 4-of-5 from the field in the quarter. He also hauled in a game-high eight rebounds. Brewer had eight points, six coming off the fast break. Rubio had eight assists, compared to Indiana’s three as a team.
The opening 12 minutes set the Wolves apart from the Pacers, and ended up being the difference in this game.
The Numbers Game
Wolves 104, Pacers 91
“I was looking up and I was like ‘how much does Love got already?’ It was in the 30s already so you know, I’m looking at Kevin, I’m not really looking at George but Kevin, yeah, he did a great job out there.” Wolves backup point guard J.J. Barea on watching the back and forth battle between Kevin Love and George Hill on Wednesday night.
On the road they go. The Wolves start a five-game road trip that starts on Saturday against Utah at 8 p.m. The team plays the very next night at Portland to take on the Blazers at the same time. Both games will be aired on Fox Sports North and WCCO 830-AM.