There are a few patterns that NBA games tend to follow. There's the "Trading runs" game, the "Go up big and cruise" game, the "Hard fought throughout" game, the "comeback win" game, and then there is the "Build a big lead and hang on" game.
Last season's Wolves visit to Madison Square Garden resulted in a "Comeback win" game-for the Knicks, as the Wolves blew a double digit lead and lost. It looked like the same thing might happen again tonight, but the Wolves staved off the Knicks in a chaotic 4th quarter.
Tonight was a "Build a big lead and hang on" game for the Timberwolves, as they dominated the first quarter to the tune of 40-19, and more or less hung on from there, as the Knicks got as close as 100-98 on a three pointer with about 4:00 minutes left. Big plays from Kevin Love and Kevin Martin, however, sealed the win. After making a huge shot to put the Wolves up eight, Love got some begrudging dap from the world's most famous Knicks fan:
The story of tonight's game was the Wolves' running game, as they were able to get out on the break via Knicks turnovers, as well as from Love's outlet passing, especially early. This led to easy baskets and the Wolves shot 66% in the first quarter as they put up 40 points. This is the third straight game they have had big offensive first quarters, as the starting unit is getting off to terrific starts.
For the 2nd night in a row, the Wolves did an admirable job slowing down a big scoring small forward, following up their containment of Kevin Durant with an excellent job on Carmelo Anthony, who scored 22 points but needed 21 shots and a big fourth quarter to get there. Credit again must be given to Corey Brewer, who did not allow Melo to get open looks and get into a rhythm early. Derrick Williams also worked hard on Anthony during his stint guarding him.
Once again, though, it was a team effort, as the Wolves regularly swarmed Anthony (who turned it over five times) and forced the ball out of his hands. Once again, the Knicks were unable to make the Wolves consistently pay, as they missed the resulting shots through most of the night.
Offensively, the star (along with Kevin Love) was Kevin Martin, who had struggled from the field the first two games. Tonight he scored 30 points on an incredible 12 shots, as he made nine of them including all five of his three point attempts. It was only a matter of time until the shots went in for him, and one of the great things to see through the first three games is that he's back to drawing fouls and getting to the line.
It was another great night for the Timberwolves, as they extend their start to 3-0 and get the first road game under their belts. It's early, but they are looking like a different team. They have their first back to back of the season tomorrow night in Cleveland at 6:00 pm Central time. Should be a good one, and Kyrie Irving is always fun watch.
- The Wolves have now shot 105 Free throws in their first three games. That is 35 a game, and completely nuts. The league leader last season (Lakers) averaged 28 a game.
- Kevin Love's line: 34 (on 19 shots), 15 and 5. Ho-hum.
- Ricky Rubio was in double figure assists for the third consecutive game, but failed to post his 3rd double-double of the year with only 8 points. He took some ill-advised shots in the 4th quarter as the Knicks were charging.
- It was not a great night for the bench, as that unit struggled in the 2nd quarter and again early in the 4th. As a result, the starters played heavy minutes, with Love, Pekovic, and Rubio all over 40 minutes. We'll see how that effects them tomorrow.
- This is the first Wolves 3-0 start since 2001. Let's enjoy that.
- In the absence of Ronny Turiaf, Gorgui Dieng did not play. This is likely because the Knicks only play one center (Chandler). Instead, Love shifted over to be the nominal five when Pekovic went out.