Wolves Bounce Back, Beat Heat 80-71

Wolves Bounce Back, Beat Heat 80-71

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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This was more like it.

The Wolves suffered through two heart-breaking losses over the past four days—dropping a contest on Saturday against the D-League Selects in which they once led by 11, then the 24-point collapse against the Phoenix Suns happened on Monday night. But this time around, against the Miami Heat at Cox Pavilion, Minnesota started fast and responded when tested in the second half. The result was a 80-71 victory, handing the Wolves their first Summer League victory of the season.

The first two losses haven’t been a matter of effort. Coach David Adelman stressed there hasn’t been a drop off in energy regardless who has been on the floor in Vegas. The difference was being able to take the punches the Heat threw in the second half and responding in kind.

On Tuesday, the Wolves succeeded.

Minnesota shot 60 percent from the field in the first half and took a nine-point lead into the break, but Miami made its move to start the third. After an 8-0 run that put the Heat up 47-45, the Wolves regrouped and attempted to reverse the late-game trend of failing to get defensive stops.

It worked. Minnesota put together a 14-2 run that put the Wolves back in control, and even when the Heat started making another run late in the fourth Minnesota came up with ways to get stops.

“Going through the last couple games where it happened to us, we realized how long an NBA game is even though it isn’t the regular 48 (minute),” Adelman said. “The way they call it, the 24-second shot clock, it’s a long game. If you’re up 15 early, that’s nothing. So they made a run and I thought a lot of different guys stayed composed, and we took care of what we had to take care of.”

The Wolves once again benefitted from a healthy dose of 3-point shooting, this time hitting 11-of-18 from behind the arc and beginning the game with 9-of-12 shooting in the first half. Throughout the game, the Wolves were able to benefit from good ball movement, indicated by the number of players who scored on the night. Minnesota had 12 players get into the scoring column with eight of them scoring six or more.

The problem, again, was not how shots fell. It was making sure shots were attempted. The Wolves had 28 turnovers on Tuesday against Miami, bringing their three-game total to 75 at Summer League.

And throughout the night, the Wolves were far more likely to send Miami to the line than vice-versa. The Wolves shot just 10 free throws on Tuesday to Miami’s 21, bringing Minnesota’s opponents’ free-throw attempts this Summer League to 80 in three games.

“We’ve got to stop bailing guys out. That’s one thing, guys are shooting more free throws than we are,” guard Brandon Paul said. “And our guards have to do a better job of taking care of the ball. Our bigs are putting us in position to be successful. We just have to try and make sure we’re not handing it to the other team.”

Paul was the team’s leading scorer, dropping 13 on 4-of-7 shooting while hitting 3-of-6 from distance. He also had three steals and a block all while coming off the bench. John Holland also had a productive game, scoring 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting and hitting a pair of 3s. Chris Johnson had nine, Kee Kee Clark had eight, Othyus Jeffers had seven and Demetri McCamey had six.

For the Heat, James Nunnally scored 12 off the bench and James Ennis had 11.

The Wolves will now enter into the championship bracket, likely playing in the group of games Wednesday reserved for teams ranked 11th through 22nd in the Summer League standings. Heading in, the Wolves understand they could have a better record than 1-2 and are coming off a momentum-building win over Miami. They’re hoping this win over the Heat springboards them into a successful championship tournament run.

“It’s huge,” Clark said. “Anytime you lose two close games, you get down on yourself and for us to be able to come back and bounce back and play against a good Miami Heat team and get a win like this, it only helps build the confidence going into the next game.”

Leader of the Pack

The Wolves had a collection of players who could fall into this category since 12 different guys scored and only two players reached double figures against the Heat. But Brandon Paul was a bright spot off the bench and gets the nod. He finished with a game-high 13 points and hit 4-of-7 shots—including three 3-pointers—in 22 minutes as a reserve. He also hit both of his free throws, which was a big deal considering the Wolves only shot 10 in the game and no other player was perfect from the line. He also had three steals on the defensive end and collected one of the Wolves’ seven blocked shots.

Highlight of the Game

With the Heat on an 8-0 run to start the second half and taking a 47-45 lead, the Wolves were looking for a spark to get back on track. They got it on an offensive set in which Robbie Hummel snagged an offensive rebound, kicked it out to Demetri McCamey who hit a cutting John Holland for an explosive back-door alley-oop. That play would set the wheels in motion for a 14-2 run that shifted the game into the Wolves’ favor.

The Numbers Game

  • The Wolves opened up the game again shooting lights out from distance, hitting 9-of-12 shots from 3-point range during the first half. Combine that with Monday’s first half against the Suns, and Minnesota hit 17-of-27 3-pointers in back-to-back first halves at Summer League.

  • The Wolves gave up an 8-0 run to start the third quarter as Miami took a two-point lead, but they responded with a 14-2 run of their own to take a 59-49 lead late in the second.

  • Minnesota’s weaknesses this week continue to be at the line and in the turnover department. Minnesota allowed their opponents to shoot 80 free throws in these first three games, including 21 on Tuesday, and they’ve also turned the ball over 75 times in that three-game span.

  • Quote of the Night

    “We have enough guys that can make plays at the end of the game. We just have to stop turning the ball over. We’re giving them easy baskets out in transition. Once we settled down and controlled the ball better, we controlled the pace the rest of the game.” — Wolves guard Brandon Paul

    Next Up

    After wrapping up their three games in pool play, the Wolves will enter the championship tournament that begins Wednesday. The 11th through 22nd seeds will play on Wednesday, while the teams that were seeded in the top 10 will play their first game of the championship round on Thursday.

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