The Timberwolves' last 6 games looks like this:
12/28- Blowout win in Milwaukee
12/30- Close loss to Dallas
1/1- Blowout win vs the Pellies
1/4- Close loss to OKC
1/6- Blowout win in Philadelphia
1/8- Close loss to Phoenix
Guess what happened tonight?
Because the Wolves like to stick to what they know, they followed up a tough 1-point loss to the Suns on Wednesday by handily defeating the Charlotte Bobcats 119-92. The victory marks the 8th Wolves victory of 20 points or more, a number that tops the entire NBA. The win improves their record to 18-18 on the year. For Charlotte, the loss puts them at 15-22.
"It was an important game to just win," Rick Adelman said following the game. "If we keep going back and forth and somehow we have to get a couple wins in a row. I think it's the way we are playing, people talk about not winning the close games and there are things that happen to us in close games. It's what I told them at halftime, if the game is on the line there are things that we making the same mistakes over and over."
It was an efficient shooting night for just about everyone in a Minnesota uniform tonight. Through the first three quarters, they shot 58.5 percent from the field and 63.6 percent from deep. The numbers dropped a bit when the starters were pulled, but when you shoot the way the Wolves did tonight, it's going to be tough for any opposition to keep a game competitive.
It started off fairly close in the first quarter, with a balanced Charlotte scoring attack making it tough for the Wolves to pull away, despite a perfect 5-5 start for Kevin Martin. A 39-20 second quarter, ignited by the now-healthy bench, put the Wolves in great position going into the tunnel at halftime, when they led 68-48.
"Our bench was great," J.J. Barea, who had 7 points and 5 assists on the night, said following the game. "I think it's something we can do and if we can be consistent this team is going to be great. Got a little rhythm there and Ronny helps and Chase spreading the floor helps, Alexey driving to the lane and DC creates the energy that group could be good for this team."
Perhaps even more impressive than their outburst in the first half was the fact that they never wavered and never gave Charlotte a real chance to get back into the game in the second. They built on their lead in the third quarter and gave their starters a break in the fourth, giving the end-of-the-bench guys (Dieng, Price) a chance at some minutes.
Nikola Pekovic won the center matchup over former Timberwolf Al Jefferson. Pek dominated all night, dropping 26 points on 10-14 shooting to go along with 6 rebounds. Big Al could only muster 8 points and 7 boards on 3-9 shooting.
Kevin Love bounced back nicely from his rough shooting night on Wednesday, when he shot 4-20 in the loss to the Suns. Tonight, he went 6-10 for 19 points and 14 rebounds (9 of them coming in the first quarter).
This team has shown the capability to look very good on several occasions. But at this point, it's obvious what needs to come next: a winning streak, and come consistency.
Fun fact: Tonight was the first game since March of 2012 (Rubio's rookie year, Adelman's first year) that Minnesota went into a game with no injuries.
This win puts the Wolves back at .500, and back with yet another opportunity to play for a winning record. Their opponent? The defending Western Conference champs. On top of that, it's on the road. They'll play the Spurs Sunday night at 6pm CST. It will be broadcast on FS North.