That was unusual. The Wolves actually controlled tonight's game from start to finish in a 112-101 win over the Pistons in Detroit. It marks the Wolves' first three game winning streak of the season, and they accomplished this one without Ricky Rubio who sat out tonight to avoid playing in back to back games.
This win was led by a well-balanced offense that featured significantly better ball movement than we are used to seeing without Rubio on the floor. The Wolves were able to generate open shots throughout by passing and cutting as well as they have all season.
It helps when the big man has it rolling too: Nikola Pekovic dominated tonight, going for 29 points on 9-16 from the floor and getting to the free throw line 12 times (making 11). Neither Andre Drummond, who finished with a nice line, nor Greg Monroe could stop Pekovic, who used his strength and touch in the paint to control the game. When the inevitable double teams started coming, the ball actually moved effectively, resulting in open looks for others.
Overall, the Wolves shot 51% from the floor while making 29-34 from the free throw line.
Also enjoyable was Andrew Wiggins' overall performance. He didn't dominate offensively, but did finish with 18 points on 6-12 from the field, and was able to draw several fouls due to his aggressive attacking in the paint. But it was a terrific all around performance, as he was significantly more active on the boards than we are used to seeing and had several nice passes as well. He finished with an 18-8-5 line, and was able to have a big positive impact on the game without taking a ton of shots.
He also keyed the vital sequence in the game early in the 4th quarter. Following a run spanning the 3rd and 4th, the Pistons had cut the lead to 4 when Wiggins gathered in a loose ball on the wing off a Wolves miss. He drained his only three attempt of the ball game pushing the lead back to seven. Back to back baskets by Pek on the following two possessions gave the Wolves back control of the game, and they really were not challenged after that.
It was as solid a game as we've seen from the Wolves, especially without Ricky, in quite a while. It helps when the shots are going in, but the Wolves were consistently aggressive and moved the ball particularly well tonight. It was a good win as they head into a brutal stretch in their schedule.
- Awfully heavy minutes for some veterans tonight, especially with another game tomorrow: Martin played 42, Young 40, and Mo 34, not to mention Wiggins' 39 minutes.
- Zach LaVine had some nice moments going 5-6 from the floor and finishing with 10 points. He generally looked OK out there splitting his time between guard spots tonight. Still, things bogged down when he was running things over the last few minutes of the third quarter, but it was a better outing than we've seen from him mostly.
- Anthony Bennett deserves a mention as he played a quiet but useful 17 minutes. Only took 2 shots, but grabbed 5 boards and moved the ball much better than usual. He's so often sticky fingered that it was nice to see him move it, and he had one nice assist to Pek on a wrap around.
- Thad Young continues his good play of late, finishing with 16 points on 6-7 from the field. Made both his threes and also chipped in 4 assists.
- The Wolves as a team assisted on 26 of their 39 baskets.
- Last two games before the All-star break at at home to the Hawks and Warriors tomorrow and Wednesday.