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Wolves Cruise to Road Win Over Nets 100-85

The Wolves remain in control throughout to record a rare tension-free win in Brooklyn against a poor Nets squad.

William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

The Wolves got out to an early lead in this afternoon tip-off against the Nets in Brooklyn, and other than a brief interlude in the 2nd quarter when the Nets tied the game, the Wolves controlled the action throughout and were not challenged in the 2nd half of a 100-85 win.

The Wolves were better in all phases today, and their defense in particular stood out. They were aggressive and disruptive from the start, led by Ricky Rubio and Tayshaun Prince, who does appear to make a real difference in the defensive mindset of the team to start games. Other than Brook Lopez, who had a nice touch going today and finished with 20 points on 8-11 from the flied, the Wolves shut everyone else down, anticipating what the Nets were trying to run and baiting them into bad shots. It helps when you are facing the worst three point shooting team in the league, because you can cheat off the line and have confidence it won't hurt you, as indeed it didn't with the Nets going 5-21 from beyond the arc.

The Wolves won the rebounding battle, the turnovers, and held the Nets to 41% shooting overall in a pretty complete performance.

Offensively, they were able to get both of their big men going--Gorgui Dieng in the first half when he scored 16 of his 20 points, and Karl-Anthony Towns in the 2nd, as he finished with 24. Kevin Martin finished with 16 after a strong 2nd half stint helped the Wolves blow the game open in the 4th quarter.

The real individual story of the game was Ricky Rubio, who just dominated.  When the Wolves jumpers weren't falling to start the game, he began getting guys great looks at the basket off the pick and roll, in transition, and with his driving and dishing. He kept the pace of the game high, disrupted the Nets offense (and finished with four steals in 28 minutes), and got Dieng going early on his way to the big night.

His four steals actually pushed him past 500 for his career and I believe he is now one shy of Corey Brewer for 2nd on the all time Wolves list.  His 15 assists don't tell the story of how much he controlled the action in this one especially in the first half which ended with the Wolves up nine and Rubio a +19 for the half.

Rubio seems to have upped his game a notch over the last three contests, two of them Wolves wins, and hopefully it's a sign of things to come, because when he plays the way he did today, not only does it lead to good results, but it's one of the funnest things to see in the league. When Ricky is fully engaged and firing on all cylinders, his dominance on both sides of the ball is a joy to watch.

A few notes:

  • Both KAT and Dieng finished with 20+ point double-doubles, and they are playing together more and more as Dieng has taken the role of first big off the bench to replace KG at the four spot. It seems to be working, as they are both capable of making jumpers well enough to provide spacing.
  • Speaking of KAT, amazing that a rookie can finish with 24 and 10 in 28 minutes and leave you thinking: eh, not his best game. Just awesome.
  • Dieng was a super efficient 9-12 tonight, including several nothing-but-net jumpers.
  • The 2nd unit struggled in the first half, giving up the 10 point lead the starters built, but were better in the 2nd, not letting the Nets make a run. Andre Miller's participation in the 2nd half might have helped, and Kevin Martin was able to hit a few shots as well later in the game to keep the Nets at bay.
  • Wolves are in Boston tomorrow night to take on the Celtics, so it was nice that Rubio and Towns especially didn't have to play heavy minutes today.