Wolves Handle Bucks 95-85
Web Editorial Associate
After a string of losses, the Timberwolves might be feeling like they’re back on track as they beat the Milwaukee Bucks 95-85 at Target Center Friday night.
Following five straight defeats, the Wolves have now won two of their last three contests.
Wolves vs Bucks
“I thought it was just a really solid win for us,” coach Rick Adelman said. “After coming off that road trip and everything, we really defended well all night long. Even when they made their run in the third quarter, we defended well enough to keep the lead and then made some plays in the fourth quarter.”
The first half was back-and-forth with the lead changing 15 times, but Minnesota assumed a 10-point lead at half with the help of Kevin Love (12 points), Nikola Pekovic (12 points) and JJ Barea (11 points). All three players shot over 50 percent before halftime, contributing to a solidteam rate of 48 percent.
“Just trying to score whenever they give it to me,” Pekovic said. “That’s what I was doing.”
After the halftime break, Minnesota maintained their lead—although the path to victory was not without its speed bumps. Milwaukee came within a single point midway through the fourth quarter, but rookie Alexey Shved ignited for the Wolves and helped them on an 11-0 run. Shved scored 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter.
“That guy just plays,” Love said of Shved, who also pitched in five assists. “Sometimes he can be unconscious. We’re happy to have him on the team. He has supreme confidence out there, he can seem like a shy guy, but when he gets out there it’s like he’s a whole different person. Tonight’s one of those nights where you see he’s growing up.”
The Wolves finished with two players earning double-doubles (Love had 15 points and 14 rebounds, Pekovic had 14 points and 16 boards), and Barea (15 points, five assists) and Ridnour (16 points) both had good nights as well. With five players in double-digit scoring, Minnesota had a diverse offensive attack to go along with an effective defense.
“I was happy because we won the game,” Pekovic said, “and other players stepped up. You could see the points, everybody was there. It was good.”
Milwaukee was led by bench forward Larry Sanders who recorded a triple-double with 12 rebounds, 10 points and 10 blocks. Monta Ellis led the Bucks in scoring with 18, supplemented by John Henson and Brandon Jennings who had 10 each.
“He did a good job of clogging up the lane,” Love said of Sanders, who had collected five blocks by the first quarter alone. “But we were able to get the job done.”
Minnesota’s victory came after Love made a game-time decision to play, having been ill for the last two days with a stomach virus.
“Yesterday was the worst plane flight I’ve ever been a part of in my life,” Love said. “I was contemplating playing or not, even out there in warm-ups. I figured I’d give it a try, and I’m just happy we won. On my behalf, it wasn’t a good game.”
Leader of the Pack: Alexey Shved
Shved was the talk of the postgame interviews, as he scored 16 points—including 10 in the fourth quarter alone—shooting 5-for-9 in the contest. The rookie also passed five assists and nabbed two steals.
“He made good plays and the three there with the clock running down was huge,” coach Adelman said. “He has been in big games and you can see that. He is not afraid to make plays.
“I thought he was really good defensively, and he challenged shots. He is long, and I don't think the guys in this league realize that. He bothered (Monta) Ellis a few times because of his length, and the effort was there to contest the shot and not just give the shot up.”
Highlight of the Night
The score was 89-81 with 1:31 left, and Milwaukee was trying to put together a comeback. Adelman called a timeout, and Love ended up with the ball near half court, receiving defensive pressure. He tossed the ball over to Shved, who dialed up and launched a 29-foot 3-pointer just as the shot clock ran out—putting the Wolves up by 11 and ending any hopes Milwaukee had to close the gap.
The Numbers Game
Quote of the Night
“Everybody worked for this, not just me making points. Everybody won.”—Minnesota guard Alexey Shved describing his team’s total effort in their win tonight.
The Wolves resume play Tuesday in Philadelphia as they take on the 76ers. The next day they make the short trip to Boston and face Kevin Garnett and his Celtics. After that, Minnesota returns home to home a two-game home stand.