The Wolves’ victory over Milwaukee Friday was not pretty, but there were some attractive signs of improved team play. Consider:
--The Wolves, even with Andrei Kirilenko (back) our and Kevin Love (flu) ailing, had a season-high 56 rebounds.
--A Wolves team that had been victimized by backcourts much of the season did a wonderful job on Milwaukee’s tandem of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, forcing that duo to take 41 shots in order to score 36 points.
--The Wolves played so well defensively they were able to go for six-plus minutes without a score in the third quarter and never lose their lead.
And then there was Alexey Shved. A rookie in name only, he continues to show a mettle that allows him to play well in tough situations. Friday he had 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, keying a huge 11-0 run that turned a one-point game into a breeze for the Wolves, who have now won two of their last three games.
Shved has now scored in double figures in consecutive games, and has scored 84 of his 156 points this season in the fourth quarters of games.
I know this is not necessarily news, but I can hardly wait to see Shved and Ricky Rubio playing together. “He’s one of those guys, he has the same face, down 20, up 20, tie game,” J.J. Barea said. “He’ll always play the game the same way.”
Friday Shved hit two three-pointers in the fourth quarter – one from downtown with the shot clock about to run out – and made two very nice passes.
--In a statistical oddity, the Bucks got a triple-double out of backup forward Larry Sanders, who tied a Bucks franchise record with 10 blocks to go with his 10 points and 12 rebounds. The Wolves went at him all night and he blocked shots in droves. But it wasn’t enough to stop an ailing Kevin Love (15 points, 14 boards) and center Nikola Pekovic (14-16) to combined for 29 points and 30 of the team’s season-high 56 rebounds.
--Ridnour scored 7 of his points in the fourth quarter on 2-for-4 shooting from the field and three free throws.
--Wolves guards Ridnour, Shved and Barea combined to shoot 17-for-32, score 47 points and dish out 12 assists.
That’s about it for now. The Wolves are not practicing Saturday, so Rubio’s first full-contact practice will come Sunday. Jerry Zgoda will be on hand to bring you the news from that practice.
Have a good night.