It's just game #3, and here the Timberwolves have already played perhaps their most remarkable game of the year. In case you missed it, they hammered the host Brooklyn Nets 32-10 in the 4th quarter to roar back from a 15-point 3rd quarter deficit and defeat the Nets 110-103.
3 quick buckets by Chase Budinger, Alexei Shved (a 3) and Andrei Kirilenko got the Wolves within 10, forcing a Brooklyn timeout. The Nets increased their lead to 12, but 3 more buckets by Dante Cunningham (off the offensive glass), Budinger (a 3) and Shved (another 3) made it 99-93 with still 6:29 remaining. Then a Cunningham block forced a shot clock violation, and a Cunningham bucket from Shved made it 99-95, forcing another Brooklyn timeout.
Still the Wolves kept coming, mostly with Pekovic, Cunningham, Budinger, Barea and Shved on the floor. A Nikola Pekovich 2 finally tied it up at 1:32, a Budinger 3 not quite a minute later gave the Wolves the lead at 106-103, and 2 FT each by Luke Ridnour and Shved iced it. Inside of 5 minutes it was 13-2 Minnesota.
Shved contributed 10 points, a rebound, an assist and a steal during the 4th quarter, Budinger 8 points, 3 boards and an assist, and Cunningham 6 points, 6 boards and a key block. None of the 3 is a starter for coach Rick Adelman. Pekovich was the only starter on the floor through the heart of the 4th quarter.
After 3 Games
The Wolves are 2-1, and who could ask for more after 3 games with Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, and during which both point guards have had injury problems. Well, did they really have to stink it up that bad in game #2 at Toronto? But anyway, here's the scouting report after 3 games.
Pekovic 29 minutes per game, 15 ppg, 50% FG shooting, 7 boards
Stiemsma 14 minutes, 5 points, 46%
Stiemsma was the star of game 1 but Pek has reasserted his claim to being number 1 at the position. 20 points, 10 boards and C+ defense between 'em is an acceptable contribution.
D. Williams 22 minutes, 9 points, 29% shooting, 9 boards
Cunningham 23 minutes, 7 points, 42%, 7 boards
Cunningham is a pretty good back-up. Other than that, Kevin Love, please hurry home. Not only will Kevin give the Wolves' offense a boost but the defense, too.
Kirilenko 31 minutes, 14 points, 68%, 8 boards, 5 assists
Budinger 23 minutes, 11 points, 48%, 5 boards
Budinger is now getting some time at the off guard. Both can play. Kirilenko is Minnesota's best overall player so far.
Ridnour 24 minutes, 9 points, 56%, 3 boards
Barea 22 minutes, 12 points, 50%, 2 boards, 4 assists
Barea would have more minutes but for getting bounced out of the Toronto game after only 8-and-a-half minutes of play. He has been a solid contributor. Ridnour less so, though both are shooting out the lights. Defense is not good.
Roy 26 minutes, 7 points, 29%, 2 boards, 4 assists
Shved 18 minutes, 6 points, 29%
Budinger starting to get a lot of these minutes. Roy is not working out, though the guy, remarkably, given his knees, can and does play D.
The Wolves are mostly shooting well except for the 29 per centers--Williams, Roy, Shved. But they're giving up a nice percentage, too, and especially they're getting hammered from 3 point range. We're getting to the FT line--27 times per game to just 17 for the opponents.
And they're losing the possession game, though by a slim margin. They're turning the ball over 15 times per game, the opponents 11.
Strengths--2 point FG shooting, getting to the FT line, Kirilenio, Budinger, Barea
Weaknesses--3 point shooting, turnovers, Williams, Roy
I picked the Wolves to be right around .500. It won't take too many 4th quarters like that to exceed my expectations. A good start but, again, Kevin Love, please hurry hurry hurry home.