Wolves Fall To D-League Selects, 83-81

Wolves Fall To D-League Selects, 83-81

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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This is not the same Summer League team the Wolves brought to Las Vegas a year ago. Perhaps more talented, and a few garnering overseas and previous Vegas experience, this club has the potential to produce guys that stick in the NBA—led by 2013 first round picks Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng.

But overall this team does lack some of the experience with the pace and physicality of an NBA game, and on Saturday night at UNLV’s Thomas and Mack Center the Wolves fell victim to that reality. Minnesota started fast but dropped an 83-81 decision to the NBA D-League Selects due to a style of play that forced the Wolves into a physical game, created turnovers and ultimately put them into a crunch time situation that they’ll develop more preparation for in time.

“It’s easier to play young guys to start off, and this is more of a challenge because you’ve got seasoned vets who play professionally all over the world,” Summer League coach David Adelman said. “It was a good first game in that respect, a bad one in other respects. You kind of want to get your feet wet. They played a style that was physical, they hit the boards, they got into us bringing the ball up the court. So I actually thought in a way we took a lot of positives from it.”

The Wolves jumped out to an early double-digit lead and led by as many as 11 in the contest, but early in the second quarter the D-League began making adjustments that forced the Wolves into a physical game. That turned into a battle of turnovers, and Minnesota wasn’t able to keep up as they had 25 miscues on the night.

Both Muhammad and Dieng got the most minutes on the team, putting in more than 24 minutes each in the 40-minute contest. They each showed flashes of the reasons why the Wolves dealt for them on Draft night, namely Muhammad hitting a couple early shots and also draining a little baseline spin and lefty finish in the final minutes to tie the game. But he also had a stretch of four straight misses and put up quick shots early in the shot clock that ended up being quick one-and-done empty possessions. Dieng had two blocks and showcased moments of nice ball movement, but he’s also learning the speed and quickness of the game and showed that in some defensive moments.

Overall, Saturday night was a learning experience that the Wolves hope will give them a base for moving into Monday’s game against Phoenix.

“We know what we can do, it’s what the positive are,” Adelman said. “We’ve got to find out what the negatives are from playing against pros. And so I think over the course of the week, you’re going to see some really big highs and some really big lows. That’s what this is for.”

Robbie Hummel and Kee Kee Clark each led the team with 12 points each, finishing a combined 10-for-19 from the floor. Chris Johnson scored 11 points and added 10 rebounds on the night, and Lorenzo Brown had nine points off the bench.

The D-League got a monster effort out of guard Stefhon Hannah, who really made the difference down the stretch. The 6-foot-1, Santa Cruz product scored all 23 of his points in the second half, going 8-for-10 from the field in the final two quarters and hitting 4-of-6 shots from behind the arc. His play down the stretch iced the game for the D-League, particularly a basket-and-1 that put the NBADL up by four with 18.6 on the clock.

Brian Butch had 13 points and five boards, and Elijah Millsap had 11 for the D-League Selects. Leader of the Pack

Chris Johnson hauled in 11 points and brought down 10 rebounds—four on the offensive end—during the contest and produced the game’s lone double-double. Johnson did have his share of mistakes—he had four turnovers and five personal fouls on the night—but he also finished 4-of-7 from the field and led the team at the free-throw line (3-of-4). Johnson is a former D-Leaguer who spent half of last season in the NBA, so he was familiar with the type of play the D-League squad brought on Saturday night. He also collected two assists and a blocked shot.

Highlight of the Game

Robbie Hummel got the game –and the Summer League season—started out right. Less than two minutes into the contest, he picked up a steal near mid court and threw it down with a two-handed fast-court jam. “It was unexpected—if you would’ve told me I’d get a dunk tonight I would’ve been like, ‘Yeah, right,’” Hummel said. It set the tone for a strong first quarter, but the Wolves weren’t able to hold onto that momentum as the D-League took control in the second.

The Numbers Game

  • Minnesota opened up the contest shooting 7-of-11 from the field through the first seven minutes. They held the D-League Selects to 4-of-12 shooting during that same span. But the Wolves went cold the rest of the half, shooting 6-of-19 the rest of the way.

  • Chris Johnson had seven rebounds in the first half.

  • Stefhon Hannah put together 8-of-10 shooting and 23 points in the second half alone. He was 0-for-1 in the first half. His four 3-pointers were a game-high.

  • The Wolves turned the ball over 25 times in the game, leading to 23 D-League points. The D-League Selects had 17 turnovers leading to 18 Wolves points.

  • Minnesota shot just eight free-throw attempts in the game. The D-League shot 19-for-25 from the line.

  • Quote of the Night

    “To me this was more fun than last year, because last year we had more seasoned guys. I kind of knew going into the last three minutes we were going to win the game. We had a lot of guy who were 25 and above and played overseas in big games. These guys haven’t done that yet. The 24 second shot clock, the multiple possessions with two minutes to go. They need it, and I think it’s good to watch them get better.” — Wolves Summer League coach David Adelman

    Next Up

    The Wolves have an off day on Sunday before taking the court Monday at the Thomas and Mack Center against the Phoenix Suns. That game will take place at 5:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on Tuesday at 11 a.m. They’ll play their final game of the preliminary round on Tuesday, a 3 p.m. CT game that will be televised live on NBATV.

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