Just in time...
That's what Monday night's victory in Cleveland was, a fourth-quarter victory that was just the kind of victory the Wolves needed for their collective mental health.
"I think it's really important, the things we did down the stretch," Rick Adelman said after the Wolves ended a four-game losing streak and won for the just the third time in their last 18 games. "I thought we defended them good. We executed. We still turned it over way too many times, way too casual and tried to make the home-run play and not the simple play."
They hadn't won a road game since Jan. 3, which incidentally is the last time Kevin Love played in a game for them.
The Wolves had lost eight straight on the road since Love broke his hand again in the third quarter of that game in Denver and then his teammates produced that big win without him. I think Miami and Washington remain the only other teams that have beaten the Nuggets at home this season.
Adelman brought Ricky Rubio back with his fifth foul and went with three guards again -- Rubio, Alexey Shved and Luke Ridnour -- for the final 2:48 and the Wolves held off an improving Cavs team down the stretch.
They did so thanks mostly to Ridnour's fourth quarter, when he scored 13 of his 21 points and got free on a well-executed play with a double screen including one from big Nikola Pekovic after a timeout for a three-pointer with 1:43 that repelled the Cavs after they had gotten within 92-89.
The Wolves had six players score in double figures, including all five starters for only the fourth time this season.
Big Pek got back in his double-double ways with a 16-point, 10-rebound game he credited with his teammates making shots. The Wolves made eight threes (on 14 attempts) and shot 52 percent from the field.
"Game's a lot easier when you make shots, I found that out," Adelman said.
There's a reason he's won nearly 1,000 games...
J.J. Barea played nearly 15 minutes on that sprained foot, but only 95 seconds in the fourth quarter. Adelman praised him for trying, but said he wasn't moving very well, particularly in the second half so he kept him out. Barea was sullen in the locker room afterward, waved off Pek's attempt to play with him in an otherwise joyous locker room and declined when I asked to talk about the game and that foot.
Pekovic was accompanied by team athletic trainer Gregg Farnam down the corridor after tonight's game toward the Cavs' locker room, which usually means he was needing to have something examined. Adelman said he was fine, mentioned he might have gotten hit in the head. Pek said he was fine after the game.
And just for a change of pace, here's my colleague Chip Scoggins story on former Wolves forward Gary Trent's transformation from lost soul to changing children's lives at Dayton's Bluff elementary school in St. Paul.
Wolves flew home after the game and play their final game before All Star break Wednesday night against big Al Jefferson, Randy Foye and Utah at Target Center.