Big 2nd Half Lifts Wolves Past Maccabi Haifa, 114-81
Web Editorial Associate
It took a quarter to get rolling, but the Minnesota Timberwolves kept their feet on the gas pedal in the second half en route to a 33-point win over Maccabi Bazan Haifa.
The starting lineup struggled at first, shooting only 1-for-11 from the field to begin the game. But success at the free throw line kept the Timberwolves in control—Minnesota made 14 foul shots in the first half while Maccabi Haifa did not attempt a single one.
“The first half was ugly,” Kevin Love admitted. “The first half, we weren’t playing hard, we weren’t executing our sets. We weren’t playing defense. The second half was just overall better in every way.”
The Timberwolves raced out of the gates in the second half and enjoyed an especially efficient third quarter—one where Brandon Roy scored 14 points and the team shot 61 percent from the field.
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“I’m coming out of the game in that third quarter,” Roy said. “And I feel really good. I didn’t want to come out.”
Roy’s points totaled 19 while Love led the squad with 24. Nikola Pekovic was a rebound away from another double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds. J.J. Barea and Dante Cunningham provided energy off the bench with 11 points each.
The most well rounded stat line might have come from Andrei Kirilenko; the veteran forward scored 13 points—shooting 9-10 from the free throw line—along with logging seven rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block. He ran the floor well and showed intelligence while running the fast break.
“He’s not necessarily going to contend for a quadruple-double,” Love said of Kirilenko, “but he’s going to affect you in every single way in the game.”
For Maccabi Haifa, Pat Calathes and Paul Stoll led the scoring efforts with 17 points each. Cory Carr also poured in 11. Donta Smith—an athletic forward who scored 28 against Golden State on Thursday—was held to eight points on 3-13 shooting.
“We played hard,” Maccabi Haifa coach Brad Greenberg said. “We just struggled to score, and they got out on the run and scored in a couple of spurts; we could not stop them. We turned it over in the third quarter too many times, and that fueled the fast breaks for them."
Leader of the Pack
Kevin Love led all scorers with 24 points, shooting an efficient 50 percent from the field (8-of-16). He also made all of his free throw attempts (7-of-7) and racked up eight rebounds off the glass.
“We want to take advantage of the talent we have,” coach Rick Adelman said. “They really didn't have anyone to guard Kevin, so we went to him a little bit more in the second half."
Highlight of the Night
At about the four minute mark in the first quarter, Kirilenko started a fast break and lobbed the ball up to Love. Love was caught up by his defender and barely reached a hand up; he tipped the ball towards Pekovic, who raced towards the hoop for an open dunk.
Only a couple of possessions later, Kirilenko had a behind-the-back assist, again to Pekovic.
“Andrei makes a big difference when he is on the floor,” Adelman said. “He is a very good passer. We just have to get used to playing with each other.”
The Numbers Game
Quote of the Night
“Overall, it was a fantastic trip. Our guys played hard. We played basically 72 minutes of really good basketball against two NBA teams. We ran out of a little gas and they played well in the 2nd half. They (Minnesota) are a good team.”—Maccabi Haifa coach Brad Greenberg, who returns to Israel with his team tomorrow afternoon
The Timberwolves travel to Chicago on Friday, October 19 to face the Bulls—a team who Minnesota has already beaten this preseason [82-75 in Fargo]. From there, coach Adelman and crew head north to Winnipeg to play the Detroit Pistons on October 24.