Maybe a week off is exactly what they needed. Their first game in 8 days, the Timberwolves came away with a 104-89 victory tonight over the Boston Celtics in Montreal's Bell Centre.
The Wolves got off to a hot start, going on a 12-0 run early in the first quarter and jumping out to a quick 18-7 lead. The Celtics quickly responded, getting the game back to a reasonably close margin. From there, it would remain close throughout most of the game, until the fourth quarter where the Wolves were able to hold onto their double digit lead. They would lead by as many as 22 points.
Returning tonight was Kevin Martin, who had sat the previous 3 contests due to issues with a sore achilles. It was Martin, Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, and Nikola Pekovic who played the most minutes for the Wolves tonight, and collectively played well when they were on the floor together.
Love led the way for Minnesota in the scoring column, finishing with 22 points (6-14 from the field, 2-8 from the arc) and 9 rebounds in 32 minutes of action. Martin wasn't far behind, finishing with 21 points, including a clinic from three-point land, notching 5-8 from downtown. Rubio had a nice all-around game, finishing with 15 points, 4 rebounds and 7 assists (including this one to Pekovic). Much to the enjoyment of Wolves fans, Rubio shot the ball well tonight as well, going 5-8 from the field and 2-3 from downtown. Pekovic had 12 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks in 27 minutes.
Derrick Williams got the nod at starting small forward tonight. Only playing 23 minutes, he was virtually silent throughout the game, finishing with only 5 points on 2-5 shooting. His most notable play was the first play of the game when he completed an and-1 opportunity off a Kevin Martin pass.
His biggest, and likely only current competition for the job, Corey Brewer also struggled offensively. In only 21 minutes he managed a 2-9 night from the field for 7 points, but also came away at a +17 for the game. Williams was only +3 on the evening.
For Boston, it was Gerald Wallace that led the team in scoring, finishing with 16 points in 26 minutes. The Celtics distributed their minutes much more evenly than Minnesota, not allowing any of their starters to clock in more than 26 minutes. It was a homecoming of sorts for rookie Kelly Olynyk tonight, returning to his home country. A Toronto native, Olynyk finsihed the game with 4 points on 2-4 shooting, and 6 rebounds.
The Wolves were able to put together a solid game offensively, but struggled throughout the game with both transition and interior defense. The Celtics came away victors in the paint, beating Minnesota 50-38, and also had the edge in fast break points at a 12-9 clip.
The Timberwolves used this game to play what will likely be close to their regular rotation when the regular season hits. Still, we did see a small stint of the end of the bench, including the long-awaited preseason debut of Chris Johnson. It didn't go well for Johnson. In just over 3 minutes, Johnson didn't take a shot, but notched 4 fouls. Joining Johnson to end the game were Robbie Hummel, Shabazz Muhammad, Othyus Jeffers, and A.J. Price. Only Hummel scored from that group.
They now set their sights on Philadelphia. They'll face the Sixers on Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center. It won't be televised locally, but will be featured on CSN in Philadelphia.