For the first time this year, the Wolves went undefeated on a back-to-back, and are now back to .500.
A 58-38 second half and good production from both the starters and the bench launched them to a 106-99 victory tonight against the 76ers at the Target Center.
With the win, the Wolves get back to the .500 mark at 11-11, and have now won consecutive games for the first time since the second week of November
The Wolves looked out of sorts in the first quarter on both sides of the ball. A 16-0 Philly run to end the quarter allowed the Sixers to get off to an absurd 39-20 lead in the game's first 12 minutes. The Sixers shot 77 percent in that quarter, and the Wolves did not do much defensively to try to lower that figure.
"He was mad," Nikola Pekvoc said, describing coach Adelman's mood at halftime.
Poor defense in transition (15 Philly fast break points to the Wolves' 1) and in the half court made their road to victor an uphill climb the rest of the way. That climb didn't really start until the close of the second quarter, when the Wolves' starters finally started to show some life on both ends, cutting the lead down to 61-48 to end the half.
"It was pretty obvious that you shouldn't have to say anything. I told them you shouldn't have to say much after the way we started the game," coach Rick Adelman said as he described his feelings at the half. "You have to learn a lesson that when you get a nice win last night it means nothing tonight. You better understand that. If you want to build anything, get any type of streak going, night after night you have to come out and play."
That momentum picked up into the second half, starting off with a Corey Brewer three pointer to open the third quarter. They got Philly's lead within 3 to end the third (89-86), and the pattern continued into the final quarter. It wasn't until 8:25 left in the fourth when Minnesota finally took the lead away from Philly, when Robbie Hummel hit a go-ahead two to put them up 87-86.
From there, the Wolves never looked back, and held onto the lead for the rest of the game.
Evan Turner was huge for the Sixers early on, but completely disappeared in the second half. In fact, virtually the entire Sixers team seemed to disappear in that fourth quarter, with the exception of Tony Wroten.
Spencer Hawes had 4 three pointers as well, but it was Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic controlled the paint all night, both finishing with double doubles. The Sixers and Wolves split with 42 points in the paint each, but in the half court, it seemed as though the Wolves had the advantage.
Love had 26 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists for the Wolves, while Pek finished with 20 points on 9/15 shooting, including two midrange jumpers that had me going crazy at the Target Center.
The Sixers and Wolves split with 42 points in the paint each, but in the half court, it seemed as though the Wolves had the advantage.
"He can make that shot," Adelman said. "You don't seem him shoot it, but when you see him working out and taking shots he can make a 15 foot jumper based on the basket."
Kevin Martin was noticeably off all game long, finishing just 1-9 from the field, and his only field goal coming in the second half. In his absence of sorts, Ricky Rubio put in an extremely efficient night from the field, and seemed to be one of the few players capable of finishing a layup attempt early on. He also had 5 boards, 7 dimes and 3 picks to round it out.
Robbie Hummel was the star of a Wolves bench that propelled the Wolves to their first lead. His 10 point performance off the pine, along with some solid play by Dante Cunningham and J.J. Barea (Adelman said he loved his leadership and control of the game, despite the shaky numbers) got the Wolves in a position for the starters to come back in and close the game off.
"I think it's just used to being out there. My whole basketball career I've got to play in situation like that," Hummel said. "Even though it's the NBA and it's a different stage it's something that I've been comfortable with my whole life. It's something you just have to get use to."
The Wolves are off tomorrow, but will finally see the defending Western Conference champs in San Antonio on Friday, when the play the Spurs at 7:30pm. The game will be on FS North.