The Wolves are back in familiar territory.
In high-scoring fashion, the Timberwolves made their way back to the .500 mark tonight, beating the New Orleans Pelicans 124-112 at the Target Center. The point total matches their best of the year, and they also shot a season-best 55.7 percent from the field.
Just as important as improving their own record (now up to 16-16), the win pushes New Orleans' record down to 14-16, as each team continues to chase Dallas to get back into the top 8 in the Western Conference.
"We got to the rim a lot in the first half. We were able to move the ball well enough and then they turned it over which really helped," Wolves head coach Rick Adelman said at the post-game press conference. "We wanted to make them a half-court team as much as we could and make them shoot the ball, even though they are a good three point shooting team. They get going up and down the court, they're tough."
The Wolves got off to a slow start in the first quarter, with Anthony Davis giving Kevin Love some trouble early on in the post. In a surprising turn of events, the bench provided the spark the team needed to give the Wolves a lead heading into the second quarter.
All four guys to come off the bench scored in the first half, a wonderful sight after the 5-point performance (all from J.J. Barea) on Monday night. Better yet, this continued into the second half, with Barea, Dante Cunningham and Alexey Shved all getting into double figures on the night.
It was also probably the best game we've seen from Alexey Shved all year, featuring great hustle and activity on both ends of the floor and contributions in the scoring column.
A 19-2 run in the third quarter all but put the game away, despite a couple attempts at a comeback from New Orleans in the fourth quarter.
Tonight saw production in the scoring column from both the regulars (Love, Pekovic, Martin), as well as some less-than-familiar faces. Along with the solid play from the bench, Ricky Rubio had his best scoring night in weeks, finishing 4-6 from the field with 14 points, to go along with 8 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks.
"I think we set the tone from the beginning and we won the game," Rubio said. "It was a great effort from everybody. Starting from Corey I think in the second play, going to the floor, to the bench, who had a great effort tonight to step up big too."
Kevin Love had an "off" game tonight, going 7-19 from the field for 21 points and 6 rebounds. The other Kevin, Kevin Martin, got back into a groove of sorts, drawing fouls and getting good looks. He finished with 20 points on 8-14 shooting, along with a 4-5 night from the free throw line.
Anthony Davis is already very, very good, and it will be fun to watch him grow in the coming years. Tonight, his numbers weren't anything spectacular (5-9 for 13 points, 6 rebounds and 4 blocks), but his activity on the floor was a spectacle to see in-person.
The Wolves will have a tough test to get their winning record back, when they face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night at the Target Center. It will be broadcast at 7pm on FS North Plus.
Happy new year, everyone.