Wolves Hold Off Pelicans, 88-77

Wolves Hold Off Pelicans, 88-77

Anthony Davis. Jrue Holiday. Ryan Anderson. Nikola Pekovic.

Those are some pretty talented players. Too bad neither the Pelicans or Wolves had them available on Wednesday night at Target Center as the two faced off against each other.

While the performance from the Wolves isn’t going to warrant them a feature on ESPN Classic anytime soon, they were able to muster out an 88-77 win, putting them over .500 for the first time since Nov. 23.

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Wolves vs. Pelicans

“It was just one of those games, just no energy in the game anywhere,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. “They were shorthanded, they did a nice job of controlling it and making sure we didn’t get out and make any runs, but you know, we grinded it out.”

With so many missing pieces, the start of the game wasn’t exactly pretty. The Wolves jumped out to an early 6-0 lead with 8:46 left in the first, but the Pelicans answered back going on a 7-2 run. Minnesota left the first quarter with a 23-16 lead, but shot just 40 percent from the field, 16.7 percent from the 3-point line and 66.7 percent from the free-throw line. Luckily for the Wolves, New Orleans was worse, shooting 29.4 percent from the field. Kevin Love led Minnesota with 10 points and eight rebounds. Kevin Martin added six. In his first start of the season replacing Pekovic, Turiaf had three rebounds.

“Yeah, you know, I do my thing,” Turiaf said on his performance after the game. “Just trying to protect the rim, trying to set some screens for the guys… I felt like I did a great job.”

Turiaf was impressive and ended up with eight rebounds and altered a few shots in the process.

The second half was rocky until late in the second quarter. The team’s 12 point lead slowly dwindled to just a 39-35 lead with 2:22 left. The Wolves, thanks to made baskets from Martin, Love and a free throw from Corey Brewer, went on an 8-0 run to close the half, putting their lead at 47-35. Love led Minnesota with 18 points and 10 rebounds at the break. Martin added 13 while shooting 5-of-9 from the field. Eric Gordon had seven points in the quarter, and at nine at the break. Al-Farouq Aminu entered the break with eight points and seven rebounds.

Again, the Pelicans battled back and got the lead to 67-62 at the end of the third, in part due to the seven combined points from Jeff Withey and Austin Rivers. To make matters worse, big man Turiaf entered the fourth with four fouls, forcing the Wolves to start J.J. Barea, Chase Budinger, Luc Mbah a Moute, Dante Cunningham and Love in the final quarter.

That group of five played incredibly well early in the fourth to ice the game, going on an 8-0 run in the first two minutes and nine seconds. Love scored six of those points.

“I told them at halftime, these guys are just trying to hang around and steal one in the fourth quarter from you just like some other teams did,” Adelman said. “We couldn’t allow that to happen.”

Love led the Wolves with 30 points, 14 rebounds and five assists. Martin added 18. Cunningham led the bench with 12 points, while Barea pitched in 10 with six assists. Despite missing Pekovic, the Wolves outrebounded the Pelicans 50-48.

Aminu led New Orleans with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Gordon scored 14 and Evans finished with 11. The Pelicans shot just 35.4 percent from the field and 9.5 percent from the 3-point line.

The Wolves are now 23-22 overall, two games back from the Dallas Mavericks for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.

Leader of the Pack: Kevin Love

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Same old for Love. He finished 30 points, 14 rebounds and five assists, which seems like an every night kind of thing for the big man. What might have been most impressive was Love taking two charges, giving the Wolves two more possessions. There’s a reason why he’s an All-Star starter, folks.

Highlight of the Night

After a missed alley-oop attempt from Brewer to Turiaf, Martin snagged the rebound and went back up for it. It wasn’t very easy as former Minnesota center Greg Stiemsma was hanging all over him. Martin threw it up and banked it in while being fouled in the process.

Unfortunately, Martin missed the free throw, but it did give the Wolves a 61-54 lead with 3:26 left in the third quarter. It was Martin’s 16th point of the game.

The Numbers Game

  • Finishing with 30 points and 14 rebounds, Love has his league-leading 27th 20+ point and 10+ rebounds game.

  • New Orleans matched their season low for first half points with 35 (previously at ORL, Nov. 1). The Pelicans season low for points is 82 set at Indiana on Jan. 4.

  • Postgame Podcast

    Wolves 88, Pelicans 77

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  • Tonight was Stiemsma’s second consecutive game with 10+ rebounds, the first time in his career he’s accomplished the feat.

  • Quotable

    “It’s not something that just happens now or like 10 days ago. I think it’s the results of the adversity that we went through where we had that sour taste that you was trying to get rid of and you’re just trying to get better and understand what you’re trying to accomplish out there.” — Wolves center Ronny Turiaf on his team getting back into a winning groove, having won five of its last six games.

    Next Up

    The Timberwolves stay at home for Friday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North and WCCO 830-AM. The Wolves hit the road the very next day, as they play the Atlanta Hawks. The game is at 6:30 p.m. on Fox Sports North and WCCO 830-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