A fourth quarter surge by the Knicks ended the Wolves' attempt at a second half comeback, as the Wolves fell 118-106 tonight at the Target Center.
The Wolves were looking to keep up their best stretch of the season, where they had gone 6-1 over their previous 7 games, including a pair of impressive wins wins against Indiana and Phoenix. Tonight, Kevin Love showed everyone that he was human, having his first off game in quite some time. The Wolves, limited in options after Love, weren't able to keep up with Carmelo Anthony and crew.
"He [Love] isn't going to have 35 points every game, let's be realistic," Rick Adelman said following the game. "He is going to have some nights where they just, have Chandler down there to guard him they were going to stay with him all the way. If he was going on the inside they were going to stay on him. It happened. We had no one else making any shots. We couldn't get open, we couldn't get anything going. I thought in the first quarter we had good shots we just couldn't make anything."
The first quarter was as poor of a quarter as we've seen all year. The Knicks got out quickly on a 9-0 run to open the game, a run that ended on a pair of Kevin Martin free throws after a questionable foul call.
The Knicks' run got as large as 16 in that quarter, as the Wolves struggled to put forth any defensive effort. On top of that, their shoddy rebounding and sloppy offense gave the Knicks every bit offensive confidence that the Wolves were trying to avoid.
Aside from a little run midway through, the 2nd quarter wasn't much better. New York's bench didn't produce much in the scoring column, but their starters kept up their onslaught from the first quarter, ending the half with 60 or the team's 66 points.
The Wolves went into the locker room down 66-55 without much of a push for the lead. Finally, in the third quarter, the Wolves got on a run.
Heavily featuring a much more aggressive Ricky Rubio passing to a much more open Nikola Pekovic, the Wolves got off to the hot start they needed. Their bench (Shabazz(!!!!!), in particular), helped keep the comeback alive. By the end of the 3rd quarter, the Wolves had cut the lead to 88-86.
Just as things started to look promising, an opening 4th quarter lineup of Barea/Budinger/Muhammad/Cunningham/Pekovic struggled to score the ball. With that, their momentum from the previous quarter disappeared, and the Knicks opened their double digit lead back up.
Adelman admitted after the game that he wanted to keep Pek in longer and go with what was working, but Pek's minute limit forced the Wolves' head coach to sit him early. Combine that issue with Kevin Love only scoring 1 point in the second half, along with Carmelo Anthony having a big night in the scoring column, it's going to be tough to pull out a win.
The Wolves now fall to 30-30 on the year. For what it's worth, the Grizzlies and Mavericks both lost tonight as well. It's a near-impossible task at this point, but Coach Adelman isn't looking at it like that.
"Other teams are losing, we are behind them," he said. "We can't give in to say this and this is a killer. We just have to go out and beat Detroit. We lost this game and it's not going to be perfect. I'm not worried about the damage we've done I'm worried about the way we played. I'm worried about the way we are going to play against Detroit, that's what I'm worried about. Getting these guys to responding, get back at it on Friday"