Tonight was a blowout night for the Wolves against a pretty abject Sixers team. The Wolves dominated offensively behind a great night from the arc, shooting 16-26 from 3.
They also kept the Sixers off the glass, forced 22 turnovers, and had more free throws.
In particular, the 2nd and 3rd quarters told the tale tonight, as the Wolves took those quarters by a combined 73-45, at the end of which the game was decided. It was a short night for the starters, as none of them appeared in the 4th quarter, and Kevin Love led the team in minutes with 29.
The bench played the entire 4th quarter, but also had a successful stint in the 2nd quarter to help propel the Wolves to a big lead. Dante Cunningham, J.J. Barea, and Alexey Shved each scored 8 points in their first half shifts, something we don't often see.
Tonight also marked the return of Ronny Turiaf to rotation following his elbow injury. He showed his usual energy, grabbing 9 rebounds in 23 minutes of play, as well as blocking a couple of shots. On the one hand, it was great to see him back out there, and I think it helps the rotation. On the other hand, it's another excuse for Rick Adelman to play stretches of the game with an all-bench lineup, something that has hurt them throughout the season. Obviously not tonight, as the Wolves were in complete control of the game, but in closer games, it might become an issue again.
Luc Mbah a Moute was missing tonight with a strained groin; it doesn't appear to be anything serious, and I expect he'll be back in there shortly. Chase Budinger also appears close to a return. It would be nice to have a full complement of players available; it will be very interesting to see what happens to the rotation once those players are all back. Hopefully, more injuries won't derail things.
But tonight is a good night. The Wolves were on fire from behind the arc: Love made four and Brewer, Barea, and Martin each had three. Nikola Pekovic had some problems making shots tonight, but dominated the glass with 14 rebounds, five on the offensive end, in his 23 minutes of playing time.
Ricky Rubio struggled from the field (2-8), but had 8 assists and only one turnover, and forced the Sixers into several mistakes.
The key is to finally build on this and put some wins together. Once again, the Wolves have gotten to .500. They have to push past that mark to get into the playoff race. They haven't had more then 2 wins or losses in a row since losing their third straight game the day before Thanksgiving. Since then, it's been one step forward, one step back for well over a month.
The return home for the next two games: Wednesday against the surprising Suns and Friday against the Bobcats. Those are both winnable games, and the Wolves need them. They are now 4-2 post-Christmas, and can't afford many more bad losses.