Top 5 Wolves Wins Of 2013-14
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The Timberwolves had some pretty memorable victories during the 2013-14 season, some of which will be remembered well into the future. We watched the Wolves beat each of the top two playoff seeds in the East and West this year, including one in an epic road double-overtime, and we also looked on as one of the team’s longest losing streaks in franchise history came to an end. There were momentum-shifting victories, and there were clutch and historic individual efforts along the way. Here’s my take on the top 5 (and honorable mention) victories for the Wolves this season.
Let’s start with the Honorable Mentions:
Feb. 25, 2014: Wolves 110, Suns 101
Had the Wolves made the playoffs, this game would have been ranked higher. Minnesota was in the midst of a five-game West Coast trip and needed a road victory against Phoenix—a team they trailed in the Western Conference standings—as time continued to tick away on the regular season. They trailed by eight in the fourth quarter but dug in thanks to a monster effort by Shabazz Muhammad. He scored 10 of his 20 points in the fourth, creating an offensive spark for the team and securing a pivotal offensive rebound that led to a Corey Brewer basket with less than two minutes to play. Love scored 33 points while adding 13 boards and nine assists. It was a big road win in what seemed like a must-win situation.
Nov. 3, 2013: Wolves 109, Knicks 100
This one seems like a long time ago, but the Wolves opened up the season 3-0 thanks to a road win at Madison Square Garden in early November. Kevin Love put up 34 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. Of course, at the time we didn’t know the Knicks would struggle this year. The idea of beating New York on its home court—a team that went to the Eastern Conference Semifinals the year before—was incredibly exciting. Not only that, but Love had a signature moment when high-fiving Spike Lee after making a circus shot late in the game. That in itself made this night one fans won’t soon forget.
Now, onto the list:
5. Jan. 24, 2014: Wolves 121, Warriors 120
This particular win on the road was a major milestone for the Wolves. It was the first time in 2013-14 that the Wolves won a game decided by four points or less—they had been 0-11 heading into this game. They did it with a Kevin Martin step-back jumper with 8.4 seconds to play followed by a missed game-winning attempt by Harrison Barnes. Minnesota shot 50 percent from the field and got big nights out of Martin (26 points, 10-of-17 FGs), Kevin Love (26 points, 11-of-14 FTs) and 22 from Nikola Pekovic (11-of-18 FGs). And they did so by outlasting the offensive firepower that the Warriors possess. Stephen Curry had 33 points and led the way for a Golden State squad that shot 55 percent from the field. The victory gave Minnesota a quality road win against an eventual playoff team and snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Warriors.
4. Feb. 19, 2014: Wolves 104, Pacers 91
Minnesota dropped to a season-worst four games below .500 with one game to play before All-Star Weekend, and after beating the Nuggets just before the break the Wolves understood they sat three games below that .500 line and needed to come out hot in the second half. But it wouldn’t be easy: The Wolves faced the Eastern Conference-leading Pacers (41-12) in their first game after All-Star. A daunting task, but Minnesota was up to the challenge. They pounced on the Pacers from the tip and held on late in an epic dual of two All-Star talents. Kevin Love scorched Indiana’s defense to the tune of 42 points and 16 boards—notching his eighth straight 25-10 game. He made five 3-pointers in the game and shot 14-of-22 from the field. Love’s effort outlasted Paul George’s 35-point performance. This particular win makes this list because of the unforgettable scoring dual between Love and George, because of the quality of the opponent and because of the importance at the time. With this win, the Wolves climbed a game closer to .500 and looked like they were developing the type of confidence needed to put together a second-half run. That run never materialized, but it was nights like that game against Indiana that showcased the potential this team had to succeed in 2013-14.
3. April 11, 2014: Wolves 112, Rockets 110
If you would have told me what would happen in this game before tipoff, I most definitely would not have believed you. Think about this scenario: The Rockets are in the midst of a playoff positioning battle that could land them home court advantage as the third or fourth seed, or they could slip out of home court and into fifth. The Wolves were eliminated from the playoffs and playing without starters Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin, yet Corey Brewer would tie a franchise record with 51 points and rookie Gorgui Dieng would hit the game-winner in the paint. Yeah right. But that’s exactly what happened. Brewer was absolutely sensational. He finished 19-of-30 with 51—tying Kevin Love’s team record but becoming the first Wolves player to score 50 in regulation. Dieng recorded 20 rebounds for the second time against the Rockets in a three-week span, and he found himself with the ball in the paint and buries a running jumper with four seconds left. The crowd was incredible at Target Center—the loudest we’d heard all season long. Everyone was into it as Corey hit free throws to record points 50 and 51. And when Gorgui hit that last shot, the place went crazy. Such a fun, memorable night in a Wolves win.
2. Nov. 10, 2013: Wolves 113, Lakers 90
This one was a thrill in so many ways. Not only did the Wolves beat the Lakers for the first time in 22 meetings dating back to March 6, 2007, but they did it on the road at Staples Center in front of Jack Nicholson and the rest of the Hollywood crew. And they did it in dominant fashion. Minnesota opened up the game with 47 first-quarter points and never looked back. Kevin Love and Corey Brewer did their very best Randall Cunningham-to-Randy Moss impersonation with their continuous outlet pass connection, and this particular game early on in the season really set the tone for things to come in that department throughout the year. And of course, Ricky Rubio notched his second career triple-double with 12 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds—he also added five steals. All five Wolves starters scored in double figures, including 25 points and 13 boards from Love. This one felt good because the Lakers had kept that winning streak alive for so long—their 22-game winning streak against Minnesota was tied for the fourth-longest winning streak for a team against one opponent in league history. There was no doubt about this one: The Wolves dominated from start to finish.
1. April 4, 2014: Wolves 122, Heat 121 (2OT)
What can I say about this one? The Wolves, already eliminated from playoff contention and facing the two-time defending champions on the road, went into Miami and battled so fiercely. They didn’t get rattled when Miami tied the game with a Mario Chalmers free throw with three seconds left in regulation. They didn’t lose their resolve when Chalmers hit another free throw to tie the game and send it into the second overtime. And they kept their belief when the Heat went up three in double-OT and looked as though they might be able to create separation with their championship experience. Throughout, the Wolves played confident basketball and looked as though they were willing to match Miami blow-for-blow. Chase Budinger was a big factor in this one, turning in a 24-point effort on 7-of-9 shooting. Love had 28 points to lead the team, and all four other starters followed suit in scoring double figures. Overall just a great, thrilling game. It’s one of my favorite wins in the Adelman era, right up there with Love’s buzzer beater against the Clippers in 2012, Luke Ridnour’s teardrop over Al Jefferson in 2012, Budinger’s buzzer-beater over the Pacers early last season and Gorgui’s game-winner/Corey’s 51-point game against the Rockets on this list.
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