Greetings for a final time from Target Center.
Youngblood here, with the question: When was the last time really good defense was the reason the Wolves won a game?
That's what happened tonight. Now, yes, we all know the Pistons are one of the league's most offensively-challenged squads this season. But the Wolves couldn't hit a basket for much of the first half. But defense and a very good game from the Wolves bench allowed Minnesota to hang in until the offense finally kicked in.
Some defensive highlights: Nikola Pekovic's play in the post, Wayne Ellington's play on the perimeter and Anthony Tolliver shutting down Tayshaun Prince down the stretch in the fourth quarter.
With that in mind, here are some impressions:
--I continue to like how Rick Adelman adapts to how people are playing. He liked what he saw in Pekovic, so the big guy started the third quarter. He was impressed with Ellington's play, so Ellington played the entire fourth quarter. It's interesting that, at crunch time, Adelman had Rubio playing with Ellington and not Luke Ridnour or J.J. Barea. That's because of how well Ellington was playing defense.
--Wes Johnson played pretty well. He attacked the basket for three of his four hoops, scored 11 points with three rebounds.
--What an interesting line for Rubio. He, like many Wolves players, struggled with his shot. Rubio went 1-for-8 (although that one was pretty spectacular. He drove to the hoop, going behind the back on his way up. Rubio finished with nine points, eight assists, seven rebounds and six steals.
--Pekovic continues to earn himself quality time. He played a season-high 23:39 and scored 11 points. He is a tough man to move.
--Barea returned after missing three games and played well. He was a little rusty in the first half, but very good in the second.
It was a pretty contented locker room after the game. Love joked how he wasn't going to give the ball to Rubio for his signature toss into the air after a victory, but finally relented after making a late steal.
Now the Wolves get a very tough two-game road swing against the Clippers and Utah. Does this team have it in them for a three-game winning streak? Jerry Zgoda will be there to find out. Until then, have a good night.