Tonight's game was one that both teams really wanted. The Wolves wanted it to get out a recent funk they've gotten themselves into, losing four of their last five games. Denver, on the other hand, wanted it not only to pick up their fourth straight win, but to pick up their seventh win in their last nine games.
The hot team stayed hot tonight, as Denver was able to hold onto their lead and beat Minnesota tonight 117-110 at the Target Center. The Wolves fall below .500 for the first time at 8-9, while the surging Nuggets are now 8-6 after a 1-4 start.
Rick Adelman, not surprisingly, was upset.
"There's been all this talk about what kind of team we can be," he said following the loss. "I told them, I don't care what people talk about or what it looks like on paper. We haven't done nothing."
The arrival of the recently-acquired Luc Mbah a Moute (who did not play tonight) was quickly trumped by the sight of sleeves. The Wolves are the newest team to take on the look, and by my estimation, have pulled it off better than any other team so far.
Denver started the game off hot, their lead getting as high as 15 by the second quarter. That start essentially propelled them to a victory, as Minnesota was never able to mount enough of a comeback to retake the lead.
Still, the Wolves did make their run. With just under 4 minutes to go, a Kevin Love 3-pointer cut Denver's lead to 113-112. But from there, three Denver dunks got their lead right back up to 7. The Wolves would follow with a 5-0 run, but Denver was able to put the game away fairly comfortably following the blur of a dunkfest.
"I think we just came out without energy," Nikola Pekovic said. "I just think we didn't play tonight like we did in previous games where you could see we were really trying. We just need to stay with it and keep playing hard."
Until the last few minutes hit, it never really felt like the Wolves were actually "in it". What they did do was hang on the entire game, and keep it close enough to make their final attempt at a comeback. Turnovers (Rubio had 7), especially in the first half, along with complete ineffectiveness defensively on the drive buried the Wolves out of a hole they couldn't get out of.
"Defensively, we allowed them to do everything they wanted to do," Adelman said. "Everything we had on the board, they did. We've got to figure out what we're going to do from this point forward."
The bench wasn't much help either. Only J.J. Barea (4 points) and Dante Cunningham (6 points) scored off the pine for Minnesota, and Adelman cited a lack of urgency for both his bench and his starters.
"It's like they weren't ready," Adelman said of his bench.
Here is the box for tonight's game.
The Wolves will now go on the road for over a week, not returning to the Target Center until Saturday, Dec 7 when Miami comes to town. They do have a "home" game in that stretch, when they'll face off against San Antonio in Mexico City.
Their next game will be this Saturday at Dallas at 7:30pm, and will be broadcast on FS North.
In other news, I was seated next to our friends over at Punch Drunk Wolves tonight. Good guys, they are.
Have a happy Thanksgiving, everyone.