Mullens, Press Too Much As Wolves Fall To Bobcats 81-78

Two main components factored into the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 81-78 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday: The Bobcats pressed all night, and Byron Mullens hardly missed.

Mullens scored 33 points on 13-of-24 shooting, stretching the floor with his 3-point game (he was 3-of-5 from beyond the arc) while connecting with equal efficiency in the paint. He tacked on eight rebounds, three on the offensive end, and gave Minnesota fits all night with his play.

He was a big part of Charlotte’s 36-26 points in the paint advantage.

“He can really shoot it, use his left or his right hand, really athletic,” Wolves forward Derrick Williams said. “We’re not too big on the inside there, but at the same time he had a great game.”

Both team struggled to control the tempo all night. Minnesota alone committed 22 turnovers that led to 25 Bobcats points. But while Charlotte made their runs, the Wolves continued to respond. When Charlotte opened up a 10-point lead in the second, Minnesota went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 33-30. When the Bobcats extended the lead back to 10 in the fourth, Minnesota responded again and, with 30 seconds left, cut the lead to 77-76.

That fourth quarter burst had a lot to do with guard/forward Wes Johnson, who exploded for 14 points in the frame and finished the game with 24 overall. He got hot, nailing shots from the perimeter and also penetrating to the basket, keeping the Wolves within striking distance down the stretch.

“I got in a groove,” Johnson said. “I think I was in a little bit of a rush at the beginning of the game, so I just had to slow down and let the game come to me. In the fourth quarter I guess I started heating up.”

But Charlotte hit its free throws down the stretch, led by a pair by Kemba Walker with 20.7 left. Minnesota got one last look, a 3-pointer by Johnson that rimmed out, and the Bobcats iced the game at the line.

Williams had 17 points and seven rebounds on the night, Zabian Dowdell had 11 points and Paulo Prestes had 10 for the Wolves. Other notables off Minnesota’s bench were Robbie Hummel with six points and Corey Fisher and Coby Karl with three apiece.

For the Bobcats, Mullens led the way with 33 points and Walker added 15 of his own. Othello Hunter had 12 points off the bench.

Built Ford Tough Leader of the Pack

Wes Johnson had a breakout game on Tuesday against the Bobcats, pouring in 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting. He finished off the game with 14 points in the fourth quarter—connecting on 6-of-10 shots including a string of four in a row down the stretch that helped keep the Wolves close. Charlotte tried to pull away late and held a 10-point lead midway through the fourth, but Johnson’s collection of drives to the hoop and perimeter shooting kept the Wolves within striking distance, including a 3-pointer with less than a minute left that brought Minnesota within one at 77-76.

Highlight of the Game

With the Wolves down by two early in the third quarter, guard Zabian Dowdell lobbed a pass to Derrick Williams who was mid-air near the basket. Williams tried to lay the ball in, only to watch it rim out. But center Paulo Prestes, collecting one of his four offensive rebounds on the night, was there for the put-back lay-up that tied the game at 37-37. Prestes has 15 rebounds in his two Summer League games, eight of which have come on the offensive end. He finished with 10 points and seven boards on the night.

The Numbers Game

It was not a pretty game for either team when it comes to controlling the basketball or keeping the opposition off the line. The Timberwolves (22) and Bobcats (18) combined for 40 turnovers in the game, and Charlotte capitalized on Minnesota’s miscues to the tune of 25 points off turnovers. Additionally, the teams committed a combined 54 fouls (Wolves 28, Bobcats 26) on the night. The main beneficiaries of those Bobcats fouls were Derrick Williams and Wes Johnson. Williams was 7-of-12 from the line, while Johnson was a perfect 5-for-5 from the stripe.

Wolves Summer League coach Shawn Respert said many of those miscues have to do with the team needing to be composed while the Bobcats rolled out its full-court press.

“I think our guys just have to understand that when they have one turnover, and all teams are going to have bad plays, try not to stack it on top of each other,” Respert said. “We have one, try not to have two or three consecutive bad plays. I thought we did a good job of limiting the times we had 2-3 bad possessions in a row. We had a few times and they made their runs, but we answered back by chipping away with small plays.”

Quote of the Night

This is the Wesley Johnson we wanted to see consistently last year. The thing about this summer is he has to play through mistakes, not put pressure on himself to play spectacularly flawless games. His game is going to have some mistakes because of some of the skill sets he has to continue to improve on. But we liked that he’s being aggressive. He’s been aggressive all Summer League, and we want him to continue to be aggressive and take the ball to the basket. And when he has the chance to take his time on those perimeter shots, we want him to take them and feel confident taking them.” --Wolves Summer League coach Shawn Respert

Next Up

The Timberwolves have their first off day of the Summer League schedule on Wednesday before returning to the court on Thursday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CT. Cleveland has played before Minnesota each of the past two nights, beating the NBA D-League Select squad on Monday and the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.

For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.