After not having beat the Lakers since the Ricky Davis-era (sadly, that was kind of an era), the Wolves rode a franchise-record 47-point first quarter to victory at Staples Center. Ricky Rubio had his second career triple-double while Kevin Love had a monstrous first quarter in the big win.
Unfortunately, the Wolves needed every last point from their explosive start to the game, as they lost the second quarter and, after pushing their lead to 29 points midway through the third period, allowing a huge Lakers run that whittled the Minnesota lead all the way down to 90-76 at the start of the final period.
The Wolves were able to pull away fairly easily late, but the heavy, heavy minutes played by the Wolves starters will make tomorrow night’s tilt against the Clippers a tall task.
It was something that we’ve seen with frequency over the first two weeks of the season. The Wolves starters got out to a fast start. Adelman kept the bench minutes short, in order to keep the pedal on the gas and accrue a huge lead, hoping to rest his stars for much of the second half.
Well, it kind of worked. Except he probably left those starters in the game too long in the third quarter. A noticeably-gassed Kevin Love was on the floor during the Lakers big run to close out the frame, and the Lakers rode Steve Blake’s hot hand from three-point range as they closed the gap.
Love stayed on the floor to start the fourth quarter, and once the lead ballooned back to 100-80 with just under 9 minutes remaining, he and Kevin Martin finally saw some pine. A lineup consisting of Rubio, J.J. Barea, Corey Brewer, Dante Cunningham, and Nikola Pekiovic added to the lead through the middle of the final frame, allowing the Wolves’ two leading scorers to rest up for tomorrow night’s showdown.
– Kevin. Love. Again. He finished the first quarter (the first quarter!!) with a gaudy line of 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 1 assist. He had his double-double by halftime, and played the entire third quarter and the first part of the fourth until he finally saw the bench for the remainder of the game. Love finished with 25 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal in 37 minutes.
– Ricky Rubio had his second career triple-double, posting 12 points (5 of 9 shooting, 2 of 2 on three-pointers), 10 rebounds, and 14 assists. Oh yeah…he also chipped in 5 steals. He did turn the ball over 5 times, but his defense was altogether a beautiful thing to watch.
– The bench issues have already been well-documented, but they cropped up yet again on Sunday night. Love, Rubio, and Corey Brewer all played 37 or more minutes. In the playoffs, fine. That’s doable. On the first night of a back-to-back? Not ideal by any stretch of the imagination.
– As mentioned, the Wolves will remain in Los Angeles and be back on the same floor tomorrow evening. The game will tip-off at 9:30 p.m. CST.