That was fun. The Wolves were much crisper on the offensive end tonight, moving themselves and the ball effectively throughout.
After an up and down first half in which the Wolves controlled the first quarter but fell apart defensively in the 2nd while allowing the Raptors to score 37 points and take a four point half-time lead, the Wolves seized control with a strong third quarter and were not threatened in a fourth quarter played entirely by the benches.
One of the positives of tonight's game is that everyone who played did some things well.
Pre-season though it was, it was nice to see Kevin Love have a Kevin Love performance; though he only went 1-4 from three, he still scored 20 points on 14 shots because he got to the free throw line eight times. He also snared nine boards in his 26 minutes.
Nikola Pekovic didn't quite have his regular season touch, but was still physically dominant and finished with 12 and 8, while the third member of the Wolves bleached three, Ricky Rubio had 9 and 7, on 3-5 shooting. He had his usual array of passes, but most notable might have been his third quarter three pointer off the dribble that looked smooth and confident. He clearly is much more comfortable shooting off the dribble, and we'll need to see more of that during the season.
Alexey Shved looked much better and more in control tonight as he finished with 10 points and four assists. Which brings us to the only bad news of the evening: Shved started the 2nd half in place of Kevin Martin who played only 6 minutes before leaving with what was later termed a sore achilles tendon. He was on the bench in the 2nd, and didn't seem to be in too much distress, so hopefully this is no big deal.
J.J. Barea and Dante Cunningham got their first action of the pre-season and looked like themselves. Barea sealed the game with two late three pointers to put it out of reach for the Raptors; it was classic Barea.
Lorenzo Brown and Gorgui Dieng also saw their first action in Wovles uniforms, and made positive contributions. Dieng clearly has a lot of work to do offensively, but he was fairly effective at clogging the lane on defense, while Brown was active and forced a couple of turnovers.
Offensively, it was a good night for the Wolves. They shot the ball well, got to the foul line, and only turned it over 10 times, while also getting 10 offensive rebounds. Their defense was much more problematic, as there were stretches of the game when Toronto was getting pretty much whatever they wanted. Figuring out how to guard in the paint with the personnel they have is going to be a big task for this coaching staff.
But is was a good night. Their three most important guys looked healthy and like themselves, and in the long run, that's the most important thing.
What did you take away from tonight's tilt?