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Well that was fun! The Timberwolves walked into Houston Monday night and stormed to a 120-108 victory riding a red-hot 3rd quarter. A franchise record 42 points in the quarter and a sizzling Michael Beasley have once again brought the Timberwolves within a game of .500. This following another close loss at home to the Lakers, a game the Wolves led late before Kobe Bryant took over down the stretch. The Wolves won their 5th road game of the season, already equaling their season totals for road victories from last year.
Before we get to Houston and what lies ahead, let’s take a peek back at the Lakers on Sunday.
Minnesota has struggled at home against L.A. as much as they have against any team in the league. Kobe Bryant certainly has a lot to do with that. He’s still the premier clutch player in the league and he proved it again Sunday with a couple of quick baskets that gave the Lakers the separation they needed late in the 4th quarter during their 106-101 victory.
While the Wolves were close in the end, an Achilles Heel so far this season has been slow starts. Poor shooting in the 1st quarter and the inside play of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum dropped the Wolves to an 18 point deficit at one point. Coach Rick Adelman has preached to the team that they need to come out with energy and play that way all through the game.
Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love Talk About the Slow Starts
It took a rare zone defense to break the Wolves out of their funk. Coach Adelman switched to the zone, something the team has barely practiced, in order to slow down the Lakers dominant inside game. He did it with a lineup that has also barely played together: Ricky Rubio, Martell Webster, Michael Beasley, Kevin Love and Anthony Randolph. By the end of the 3rd quarter, the Wolves were getting stops, out running again and chipped away with a 19-6 run. Eventually, they grabbed the lead late, 94-93 only to succumb to Bryant, Gasol, Bynum and the Lakers.
Ricky Rubio Talks About Switching to the Zone Defense
So, in a season where there’s no rest for the weary, the team had to quickly regroup for a trip to Houston to face the streaking Rockets, winners of 9 or their last 10. It was a return to Houston for Rick Adelman. He spent the last three years coaching the Rockets before coming to Minnesota. Houston, of course, is coached by former Wolves General Manager and Coach Kevin McHale.
A hot team facing a young, inexperienced team on the road in the second game of a back-to-back plus, the Rockets had beaten Minnesota at Target Center the previous Monday. So, naturally, the Wolves would come out red-hot and shoot Houston right out of the building. Makes sense. Right.
Kevin Love Talks About the Back-To-Back Games
For once, the Timberwolves came out with energy and solid shooting. They actually led at the start of the 1st quarter. A 2nd quarter spurt by the Rockets gave them a 2 point lead at the half.
Then the Wolves ran them out of the building. Here’s your Timberwolves’ 3rd quarter: 42 points, 63% shooting, 8 assists (after only 6 in the 1st half), 4-7 from 3 point range and a 42-25 advantage in the quarter. A 2 point deficit at the half turned into a 15 point lead to start the 4th. Not bad.
Here are a few numbers to share for a team that it seems daily comes up with another way to show improvement. The Wolves are 10-11, the closest they’ve been to .500 since the 2006-07 season (yes, Kevin Garnett). More impressively is the road record of 5-4. Five road wins ties the season total for the team the last two seasons. They are 4-1 on the road against the Western Conference. You could dig for quite a while to find the last time that happened. The Wolves, by the way, have played the 3rd most difficult schedule in the league so far (based on opponents winning percentage).
Next up is the surprising Indiana Pacers back at Target Center. The Pacers are off to a 13-5 start and are winners of 7 of their last 10. It’s the first in a series of “Hardwood Classics” for the Wolves. They’ll be wearing the Minnesota Muskies throwback uniforms from 1967-68, their only season in existence (if you don’t know much about the Muskies, you’re not alone….more here for your internet perusal).
Then it’s back on the road to New Jersey Friday and home again Saturday for guess who, the Houston Rockets. The blur of this NBA season continues for your suddenly hot Minnesota Timberwolves!
Ricky Rubio Postgame with Al Horton on WCCO Radio
Coach Rick Adelman Talks to Reporters Following Houston Win
This week’s schedule of broadcasts on WCCO Radio includes the Indiana Pacers Wednesday, Mike Max and Timberwolves Tip-Off at 6:00 with gametime just after 7:00. Friday in New Jersey, the Wolves have the pregame show at 6:00 with tip-off at 6:30. Saturday the Rockets are in town, Timberwolves Tip-Off with Steve Thomson at 6:00, gametime at 7:00.