It’s been a nonstop barrage of quick athletic point guards for the Timberwolves lately. Philadelphia would be no different; in fact, the Wolves were facing a quick athletic team in the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night. Philadelphia has defied odds so far this season posting a 10-7 record, without the prized off season acquisition Andrew Bynum. The Wolves entered the game 7-8 and fresh off of 3 days’ rest.
Andrei Kirilenko was out of the game tonight with back spasms, in his place was Josh Howard again tonight. The Wolves were blessed with some practice time before taking on the Sixers, which allowed for some players to get healthy, and for others, it allowed the team to get a little more acquainted with each other. Malcolm Lee was back in the lineup for the Wolves tonight, rounding out a starting 5 of Pek, Love, Howard, Lee and Luke. The Wolves would be tested early on by the quickness of the Sixers, providing a sense of what to expect in the contest. The Wolves not only were able to battle the quickness, they stifled it, pacing the Sixers and actually building a lead midway through the first. Shots were falling for the Wolves who were shooting 60% with 3 minutes to play in the 1st quaerter and held a 10 point lead. The Wolves were efficient with the ball, limiting turnovers and aggressive on the defensive end. Josh Howard really showed to be finding his grove and scored 10 points on 5-7 shooting in the 1st quarter helping propel the Wolves to a 34-21 lead. The 34 is the most points scored by the wolves so far this season in a quarter.
The Wolves started the 2nd quarter with Barea, Shved, Williams, Cunningham and Stiemsma. The time off really seemed to help the Wolves, as they not only opened a lead they dominated the Sixers. The Wolves bench looked sharp as they were moving the ball allowing for great open looks, and for a change the Wolves were knocking them down. The Wolves were able to open up a 44-24 lead with 8:26 to play in the 1st half. More impressive with the Wolves 2nd unit, was the quickness they displayed on the defensive end. Adelman was able to keep the bench on the floor until 7 minutes left to play in the 2nd quarter, when he had to bring Pek back in due to foul trouble on Steimsma. The Wolves defense was so dominant they held the Sixers to 3 field goals over a 10:35 span in the 1st half. With the Wolves bench able to keep their foot on the gas, allowing the starters to stay on the bench keeping them fresh. The bench of the Wolves was so good; they outscored the Sixers 32-4 in the 1st, half helping propel the Wolves to a 65-47 lead going into halftime. The Wolves were 13-19 from the field in the 2nd quarter. The 65 points, on 59.5% shooting, were the most points scored in a 1st half all season by the Wolves. The 65 points were also the most points allowed in a half all season for the Sixers.
With such great play from the bench only Love and Pek played in the 2nd quarter, allowing the Wolves starting 5 to come back to start the 3rd quarter fully rested. The Sixers came out aggressive to start the 2nd half and managed to whittle away the lead, and close the gap to 14 on a drive by Thaddeus Young. The Wolves tightened up the defense and got back to what was working in the first half, ball movement, waiting for shots to come to them, rather than force shots like we’ve seen them do this season. By allowing shots to happen, the Wolves opened the lead back to 21 with 8 minutes to play in the 3rd. The momentum of the game turned quickly, as the Wolves quickly committed 2 consecutive turnovers and missed 2 shots which allowed the Sixers to go on a 7-0 run, and again close the gap to 14. With 5:51 the Wolves called a time out leading 75-61, Adelman left the starters on the floor, the time out seemed to slow both team down as neither hit a shot over the next 2 minutes. After such a hot shooting first half the Wolves really struggled in the 3rd quarter. Trying to get some energy on the floor, Adelman brought in Shved and JJ. The timely substitution gave the Wolves just what was needed, a big 3 from Shved, which was the 11th made 3 of the game. It was the energy the bench brought to the floor which allowed the Wolves to open the lead back up to 20 with 95 seconds to play in the 3rd quarter. The bench played so well, they outscored the Sixers bench 39-6 and maintain a 20 point lead 87-67 after 3 quarters of play.
With the energy of the bench starting the 4th and holding on to a 20 point lead, it was clear Minnesota was in the driver’s seat as they looked for their first victory in Philadelphia in 6 years. With 9:44 left in the game the Wolves were shooting 55% from the floor. The 3 point parade continued as the game wore on, seeing Alexey Shved continue his torrid shooting night. Derrick Williams also hit 3-4 from beyond the arc on the night, helping the Wolves go 13-25 as a team (52%). With a commanding lead for the Wolves, the bench finished off the game taking a 105-88 victory over the Sixers.
Every Wolves player with 4 minutes played (10 players) in this game had a positive +/-, and scored at least 6 points.
This game could have been the best performance all season for JJ Barea, he played within the system and it allowed it to shot 50%, scoring 11 points, and dish out 10 assists.
Alexy Shved continues to get his offensive game on track, going 5-8 from the field and 4-7 from beyond the arc.
For as great as the shooting was (53.2% from the field, 52% from 3) they shot a miserable 58.8% from the free throw line.
The Wolves bench ended with 53 points on the night.
With such a large lead all game for the Wolves, it gave the starters a lot of rest before their second half of their back to back tomorrow night against Boston at TD Bank Garden with a 6:30 tip