MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – It was a clank-fest at Target Center on Friday night.
The misses only seemed to make the Timberwolves hungrier, and Minnesota devoured the rebounds and turned up the defensive pressure on the Milwaukee Bucks to compensate.
The Bucks, on the other hand, hung their heads and wilted as they watched shot after shot miss the mark.
Michael Beasley had 21 points and 10 rebounds and the Timberwolves outrebounded Milwaukee 62-39 in a 96-85 victory on Friday night.
Kevin Love added 17 points and 16 rebounds for the Timberwolves (1-1), who certainly needed a win with a daunting road trip to Memphis, Miami and Orlando on the horizon.
“It’s an attitude and the way we approach the game on the defensive end,” said Love, whose Wolves bounced back from a disappointing home loss to Sacramento on Wednesday. “At every position we have guys that can play.”
Corey Maggette scored 23 points for the Bucks, who shot just 36 percent, including 3 for 20 from 3-point range.
The Timberwolves weren’t exactly sharp shooters themselves at 38 percent, but their 26-9 advantage in second-chance points made all the difference.
“It was almost like (the Timberwolves) just said ‘OK we’re not making shots tonight, so we’re just going to go to the board.’ And they absolutely dominated us,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. “(We were) very soft, nailed to the ground. I looked at a bunch of clips at halftime, we were just, you know _ really, really poor effort.”
Luke Ridnour had 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds against his former team and put the exclamation point on the victory by hooking up with Corey Brewer for a jaw-dropping alley-oop with 1:30 to play.
Ridnour spent the previous two seasons in Milwaukee, and Bucks coach Scott Skiles lauded him before the game for the work he did mentoring Brandon Jennings during his rookie season last year.
The Wolves signed him to a four-year, $16 million deal in the offseason in hopes that he could do the same for second-year guard Jonny Flynn. But Ridnour has been forced into a starting role early because of Flynn’s hip surgery, which is expected to keep him out well into November.
The teacher went at the student early on Friday night. Ridnour scored six of the first nine points for Minnesota. The young Buck didn’t take long to respond, blazing to the basket and getting to the line to score 10 points in the first quarter.
After that initial burst, though, Jennings disappeared. He scored just four points the rest of the way, and the Bucks fell behind by 17 points midway through the third period.
“He’s a great player,” Ridnour said of Jennings. “He’s going to have a great career and season, but we did a good job just maintaining on all their guys.”
Milwaukee started the third period with 11 misses in its first 12 shots and were 0 for 12 from 3-point range through three quarters.
Skiles went small with Jennings and Earl Boykins to encourage his team to attack the rim instead of settling for jumpers. Maggette got the message, converting two three-point plays to close the third period and cut Minnesota’s lead to 74-64.
They got as close as six in the final period, but Beasley and Ridnour came through with clutch shots to hold them off.
“It’s hard to get a run going when the ball is shot and there’s three to four T-Wolves jumping up and down for it, and two or three Bucks players standing there looking at them,” Skiles said.
Now 0-2, this is not the start the Bucks envisioned coming off their first playoff appearance in four years. Even more troubling for them, they were out-hustled and out-worked, two big no-nos under the demanding Skiles.
Jennings finished 4 for 15 with seven assists and Andrew Bogut had eight points and 10 rebounds.
Officials Ron Garretson, David Guthrie and Marat Kogut called things awfully close, hampering the game from getting into any kind of flow. They called 32 fouls in the first half, many of the nickel-dime variety, which led to 43 free throws.
“They killed us tonight on the boards,” Jennings said. “They just seemed like they wanted it more than we did tonight. I think right now we’re in like cruise control, and we need to change that. Fast.”
Notes: Wolves rookie Wes Johnson had 12 points. … Wolves C Kosta Koufos played despite battling a bout of food poisoning. … Bucks F Luc Mbah A Moute played after being listed as questionable with a right ankle injury. … Bucks F Jon Brockman played with a left ankle injury. … Wolves C Darko Milicic was 0 for 6 from the field, but tied a career high with five blocked shots and had nine rebounds.