Tonight’s Wolves vs. Pistons tilt was entirely what one might have expected it to be — all offense, little defense, and really poor shot selection by the Detroit Pistons. The game started with exactly this recipe, with the Wolves taking a number of good, high-percentage shots and the Pistons jacking up jumpers from all over the court.
The only wrinkle in the blueprint early in the game was that Detroit’s long jump shots were, for the most part, finding the bottom of the net. The Wolves defense was seemingly active, though not productive, and Ricky Rubio’s occasionally overzealous doubling the Pistons big men in the paint helped Detroit’s perimeter players get off an array of mostly-open shots.
The Wolves offense hummed right along, and in a game that was 33-32 at the end of the first quarter, Minnesota just kept the pedal to the metal and finally pushed ahead of the home team by double digits just past the halfway point of the second frame. The Wolves reached the bonus early, and ultimately made 17 of 21 free throws by the break, while Detroit was just 1 of 3 for the entire half. Kevin Love had a monster start to the game, putting up 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists by halftime, with both Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin reaching double figures as well.
No doubt, coach Rick Adelman entered the third quarter wanting to open the game up and get his starters some extra rest in the fourth quarter, as the Wolves are flying home tonight to play a back-to-back tomorrow evening. While the third quarter started rather lethargically for Minnesota, the Wolves again picked it up in the second half of the frame, and Adelman indeed got his wish.
By the time the fourth quarter was ready to being, Love already had a crazy 26 points, 16 rebounds, and 7 assists, and Rubio had chipped in 15 points, 9 assists, 2 steals, and zero (0!) turnovers. The Pistons certainly did not help themselves by inserting the Notorious Charlie V.(illaneuva) into the game midway through the third. Not so coincidentally, the Wolves proceeded to outscore the Pistons by 10 points in the minutes that followed.
The fourth quarter entered joke territory immediately, as Adelman rode a lineup of Barea, Shved, Hummel, Cunningham, and Pekovic to a 23-point lead before the nine-minute mark of the fourth quarter. They played the majority of the period, and the deep reserves finished out a 121-94 victory for the Wolves.
All things considered, this was a very nice win for the Wolves. Detroit ultimately may not have scored a ton of points, but no doubt that Adelman would have liked to have seen a little more consistency on that end of the floor.
Offensively? After the abomination that was Saturday’s game against Miami, this was music to basketball ears. Love was fantastic, Martin and Rubio were consistent and largely efficient, and Pekovic was all over the glass and sealing Andre Drummond and Co. down low all night long.
– Love’s final line at the end of the third quarter was his final line on the night: 26 points (6-15 FG, 4-6 3PT, 10-10 FT), 16 rebounds, and 7 assists. He played great, and other than some hiccups under the rim in the second quarter, he actually had a very efficient evening.
– Rubio played as well as he has in a number of games. He put up the aforementioned 15 points on 9 shots from the field, dishing out 9 assists, grabbing 2 steals, and not turning the ball over a single time on the night. His defense on Brandon Jennings was pretty good, and it seemed as though the old Euro-to-NBA rivalry between he and Rubio may have caused him to jack up an unnecessary amount of terrible shots.
Then again, Brandon Jennings. So never mind, that would have happened anyways. He may have scored 20 points, but he shot just 2 of 7 from long range and turned the ball over 6 times.
– The Wolves carried their dominance from the charity stripe through the finish, shooting 28 of 33 (84.8%) while Detroit shot just 8 of 16 (50%). Additionally, Minnesota shot 11 of 24 from three-point range (45.8%), while they held Jennings and Co. to just 8 of 28 (28.6%).
– The bench didn’t need to do a ton in this game and really did struggle late in the first quarter and early into the second. But they did keep their foot on the gas in the fourth quarter, and kept Adelman from reinserting 4/5s of his starting lineup at all in the final frame. While they were largely facing Detroit’s very shaky bench, it was still meaningful, and a great sight to behold.
– The Wolves fly home tonight to face the Philadelphia 76ers on the second night of a back-to-back. This is probably the best chance they’ll have to pick up a win on the back-end all season, so it’d certainly be a good one to get.