Wolves End 6-Game Skid, Beat Hornets 115-86
Minnesota needed this one.
After a tough stretch where the Wolves lost 11 times in 12 games, they jumped out to an early lead and controlled the rest of the contest, beating the New Orleans Hornets 115-86 on Saturday night.
“It feels great,” J.J. Barea said. “It’s awesome to win like that. I think it’s good for the team, to have fun out there, play a good one for 48 minutes. The starters did a great job and then the bench did a great job. We have to use this one to get some confidence at home and keep it going.”
Wolves vs Hornets
The win came just a day after a deflating loss to the Los Angeles Lakers the night before.
“We learned a lot from yesterday,” Ricky Rubio said. “We learned that we have to start a game aggressive. Not only that, players coming from the bench did an amazing job today.”
The Wolves held the Hornets back in the first quarter and went up 33-14—a 19-point lead after only 12 minutes. Minnesota shot 75 percent from the field and outscored New Orleans in the paint by a 18-2 margin.
“I just kept telling them every timeout, 'you have to keep your concentration,’” Adelman said. “When you have a lead like that sometimes it's hard to maintain it. But I thought they did a pretty good job.”
Minnesota built their lead up as high as 30 in the second quarter, as Dante Cunningham hit an efficient 5-of-5 shots for 10 points to lead his squad. He finished the game with a perfect 9-of-9 for 18 points.
“He’s been doing a good job all year,” Barea said of Cunningham. “He misses a couple in a row here and there, but mostly he’s been consistent and he does a good job of screening and getting to the open spot.”
After halftime, the lead was maintained for the rest of the game. Adelman, however, who has certainly seen his fair share of NBA games, noted that no lead is safe in this league.
“Still at halftime I was really nervous,” Adelman said. “I have seen it happen too many times. It's not like you won anything at halftime. With our team we better keep going. We better learn to keep playing.”
The Wolves continued to roll, especially after key contributions off the bench, including 12 points from Alexey Shved and 11 from Mickael Gelabale. Minnesota’s bench scored a whopping 68 points tonight on 66 percent shooting.
“Players coming from the bench did an amazing job today,” Rubio said. “Everyone coming from the bench was giving a little bit more.”
Besides Cunningham’s 18 points, other key contributors were Nikola Pekovic with 14 and Andrei Kirilenko with 12. The Wolves outrebounded the Hornets by a 44-28 margin and controlled the points in the paint, 58-32.
Anthony Davis led the Hornets with 18 points and was supplemented by 16 from Robin Lopez.
Leader of the Pack: Dante Cunningham
In what might be the most efficient game of his career, Cunningham came off the bench to contribute 18 points on 9-on-9 shooting. He did it all, scoring from midrange, inside and even on a furious alley-oop dunk finish sent from Rubio.
When asked which of his alley-oop passes was the most impressive, Rubio smiled and said, “I think the one with DC looked pretty good because it was high, and he can jump.”
Highlight of the Night
At about the 5:10 mark in the third quarter, Ricky Rubio drove the lane and executed a perfect behind-the-back pass fake, only to dish the rock off the Pekovic for a lay-up.
“I’m just glad he didn’t hurt himself,” Adelman said of all of Rubio’s flashy plays.
The Numbers Game
“A win is a win and it always feels good. But winning like that where everyone feels happy, everyone has their own role and especially our defense, it was amazing. Everyone coming from the bench was giving a little bit more today."— Wolves guard Ricky Rubio
The Wolves’ homestand continues next week, as they host Portland on Monday and then play San Antonio and New York later in the week.