You know what they say: Shooters keep shooting. Even when their shots aren't falling. Or, in Kevin Love's case, sometimes aren't even coming close against a tough Philadelphia defense.
Hello. Kent Youngblood here. I was lucky enough to cover a very entertaining game between two hard-working teams at Target Center tonight. Love was 2-for-14 through three quarters. But nobody wanted him to stop shooting. Not the coaches, not Love's teammates, not Love.
And look what happened: Love scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, including two free throws with 0.1 seconds left on the clock, to give the Wolves a 92-91 victory. It was the Wolves third-straight victory -- the third time they've done that this season -- and the team is back to .500 and on the way to Denver.
I think this was a big win. The Wolves had struggled at home, playing just well enough to almost beat good teams. And while Philly (which lost for the third straight time for the first time this season) is struggling a bit, this is still a good team that plays hard and plays good defense.
"We've needed a good victory at home," Luke Ridnour said. "A win against a good team. Philly is one of the best. At this point in the season, this is a big win for us."
But back to Love, who was guarded mainly by Elton Brand, but by a number of folks late, includingThaddeus Young, who had Love on the final possession, which began with just 3.6 seconds left.
He said after the that he was having one of those nights when the ball just didn't feel good in his hands. It doesn't happen often, he said, but when it does? "I've learned from those situations," he said. "I've grown from them. Sometimes it just takes half of a good quarter of basketball. I wasn't going to let my teammates down.I was going to continue to play, continue to make the right plays, and on the defensive end as well."
I remember watching the Houston game the other night, when the Wolves stayed the course after the Rockets made a late run. I thought that was a step. And think this game was, too. On a night when their best player couldn't hit the broad side of a barn for most of the game, the Wolves played hard enough to be close when Love finally showed up.
This was such a team effort: Rubio scored 14 in the first, J.J. Barea scored 8 in the second, Nikola Pekovic scored 11 in the third. Then it was Love's turn.
"I hope so," coach Rick Adelman said when asked if his team had taken another step. "You know, the bottom line is going to be, do we continue to make this happen all the time. That's what we have to do. This is the first time in a while it seems like we've beaten a good team here. That's why it's good to get one."
Here are some other impressions from the game
--I continue to be impressed with Rubio's ability to give the team just what it needs when it needs it. To wit: He scored 14 points in the first quarter when the 76ers came out daring him to shoot and packing the heck out of the lane. True, he didn't' have a first-half assist -- heck the team only had five by halftime -- but Rubio finished with 22 points -- the most since he scored 25 while playing in Spain in 2007 -- with five assists, six rebounds and a steal.
--How does J.J. Barea continue to get into the lane and get those shots off? He was big with eight second-quarter points. Though, I must say, he sometimes gets a little out of control.
--Here is a testament to hard work and good defense down the stretch: The Wolves won despite hitting on just three of 16 three-pointers and shooting 38.8 percent for the game.
--Big Nikola Pekovic just keeps going. He had 17 points and 9 rebounds, getting to the line 10 times -- making nine.
--Luke Ridnour continues to shoot well of late. He hit on five of 10 shots for 10 points tonight. In his last three games Ridnour has hit 14 of 28 shots.
--Martell Webster played some very good defense tonight. He only scored three points -- on a three-pointer -- but he had five rebounds, two steals and a block.
That's about it for now. Jerry will get back to you tomorrow.