Big Third Quarter Lifts Wolves Past Pelicans, 124-112

Big Third Quarter Lifts Wolves Past Pelicans, 124-112

The Minnesota Timberwolves started 2014 off right, as they defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 124-112 on Wednesday night at the Target Center.

The win, which was a complete team effort as seven players hit double-digits in the scoring column, moves the Wolves back to .500. After scoring just five points during Monday’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the bench combined for 42 points on Wednesday night, led by the trio of J.J. Barea (17 points), Alexey Shved (10) and Dante Cunningham (10).

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Wolves vs. Pelicans

“We did a good job,” Barea said. “We did a good job moving the ball. I think we need that. We need that from the bench for this team to take the next level… The starters got to do their job and the bench got to have a role and we just have to get in a rhythm.”

The Wolves were hot in the first quarter, as they have been all season long, thanks to a strong showing from the bench. Minnesota led 33-28 after the first 12 minutes, with the bench scoring seven points. Minnesota made 15 trips to the free-throw line, making 12 of them.

The bench continued their strong production in the second quarter, as did Minnesota big man Nikola Pekovic. The bench finished with 17 points at the break, while Pekovic scored 14 while shooting 5-of-8 from the field. Four of the five team’s starters finished in double-digits with Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and Kevin Martin all scoring 10 at the break, helping Minnesota to a 61-47 lead. New Orleans didn’t make it easy for itself in the first half, committing 16 turnovers that resulted in 14 Minnesota points. Jrue Holiday led the Pelicans with 11 points at the break.

That momentum carried into the second half as the Wolves outscored the Pelicans 36-26 in the third quarter, thanks to 11 points in the quarter from Love, eight from Martin, six from Pekovic and four from Rubio.

With the 24-point lead, the Wolves were able to rest a few of their starters and get the bench players a chance to get some extended playing time, something that’s happened only a few times this season. Cunningham, Barea, Shved and Luc Mbah a Moute saw more than 15 minutes of play, while Robbie Hummel, Gorgui Dieng, Shabazz Muhammad and A.J. Price all saw playing time. Their time on the court wasn’t the best, as they were outscored 39-27 in the quarter, but it was enough for Minnesota to hold onto the win.

“It was a good win for our guys,” said head coach Rick Adelman. “We played well, came out and won the third quarter which we wanted to do. It’s a good team we played and one we had to get.”

Pekovic led Minnesota with 22 points and seven rebounds. Love scored 21 points, but struggled a bit form the field, shooting just 7-for-19. Martin finished with 20, while Rubio had a nice all-around game, scoring 14 points while dishing out nine assists and hauling in eight rebounds.

Ryan Anderson led New Orleans with 25 points. Holiday finished with 19 points and Tyreke Evans added 16. Big man Anthony Davis was somewhat quiet, scoring 13 points. He did finish with a game-high four blocks, though.

With the win, the Wolves move to 16-16, three games back from the Dallas Mavericks for eighth place in the Western Conference.

Leader(s) of the Pack: Minnesota’s Bench

After a very frustrating game on Monday, Minnesota’s bench did a very nice job of responding against the Pelicans. The second unit shot 16-of-24 from the field, 5-of-10 from the 3-point line and 5-of-5 from the free-throw line. Not a bad bounce-back game at all. And that’s without Chase Budinger and Ronny Turiaf. We know what this bench is capable of, but now it’s about consistency.

Highlight of the Night

With 2:01 left in the first quarter, with the Wolves trailing 23-22, Love stole the ball from former teammate Greg Stiemsma. He dished the ball up court to Shved. Shved gave the ball right back to Love for a nice throwdown to give the Wolves a 24-23 lead. It was Love’s six point of the game. That started a 10-5 stretch for Minnesota to close the quarter.

Postgame Podcast

Wolves 124, Pelicans 112

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The Numbers Game

  • Tonight was Minnesota's league-leading 14th 30+ point first quarter. Houston also has 14, Dallas has 12. MIN is 10-3 when scoring 30+ in 1st.

  • With three steals, Rubio finished with his league-leading 19th game with three or more steals in a game.

  • The Timberwolves shot a season-high 55.7 percent and tied their season-high with 124 points.

  • Wednesday marked the seventh time this season that the Wolves have had three players score more than 20 points in a game.

  • Quotable

    “I think it’s the first time that Kevin (Love) had a, as he said a bad game for him, but we won so I think that’s good for us.” – Guard J.J. Barea on the complete team effort from the Wolves during Wednesday’s win.

    Next Up

    The Timberwolves remain at home on Saturday, as they host Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder at 7 p.m. The Wolves hit the road after that to play the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday at 6 p.m.

    For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at