Postgame: What a win, but Love needs a rest
- Blog Post by: Jerry Zgoda
- February 23, 2012 - 2:48 AM
Luke Ridnour hit the game-winner at the buzzer Wednesday night for an improbable comeback victory over Utah at Target Center, but Kevin Love sure didn't look like a winner afterward.
Ridnour's running floater from the lane as time expired gave the Wolves their third last-second victory this season, and their second in four days after Love's two free throws with one-tenth of a second left beat Philadelphia on Sunday.
The victory came after the Wolves trailed by 18 points in the second quarter and by 16 with fewer than 10 minutes left and it sends them into All-Star break at .500 with a 17-17, which, you might notice, is the same number of games they won all last season.
The striking scene in a joyous locker room afterward was Love sitting at his locker, his feet soaking in a tub of ice, his posture and voice looking and sounding like he had just gone 20 rounds with a bruising heavyweight and had lost everyone of them.
If you watched the game from the start tonight, you might have wondered if he was injured or ill.
"I thought I was going to die in the first quarter," he said.
He survived, well enough to just reach yet another double-double -- only 10 and 10 this time -- but it looked like the last thing wanted to do was get up early Thursday morning and fly to Orlando for All-Star weekend.
"Exhausted," he said. "Yes, I need a break."
He plans to get as much rest as he can in Orlando, where he will participate in Saturday's three-point contest and Sunday's game.
He'll be going with rookies Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams.
Williams is headed for the Rising Stars game and the slam-dunk contest following the most meaningful performance of his young career.
He played just 20 minutes, but 12 of those came when he played the entire fourth quarter after Rick Adelman went small in an attempt to finally stop Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, who clobbered the Wolves inside for the three quarters.
Williams provided the kind of lively, athletic body that limited Millsap to just four fourth-quarter points after he had scored 21 up until then, and he scored five straight points in the final minute that tied the game and then gave the Wolves a brief lead before Al Jefferson tied it again with a jumper over Love with seven seconds left before Ridnour won it with that floater.
"That's the type of shots he takes," Jazz forward Josh Howard said of Ridnour. "Those one-leggers. I've seen it."
Williams helped the Wolves keep the Jazz without a field goal for six minutes down the stretch, and just one field goal in eight minutes. Afterward, Adelman particularly praised his rebounding in traffic. He had six of his nine rebounds in that fourth quarter, including two offensive rebounds. One of those was the putback basket he turned into a three-point play and a 93-93 tie with 56 seconds left.
Asked what the fourth quarter means for him heading into All Star break, Williams said, "A lot, especially for my confidence. I know what I can do. I know capabilities."
A few other things from tonight:
* The Wolves won while not having to rely on Rubio down the stretch when it really mattered.
Yes, he didn't play all that much in the fourth quarter against Charlotte last week, but the Wolves have that one pretty well in hand coming home in that game.
Wednesday, he played just 3:32 in the fourth quarter after Adelman stuck with Ridnour and J.J. Barea, who led the comeback by tying a career-high with five 3-pointers. Three of those three came in the fourth quarter alone, which the Wolves ended with a finishing 33-15 flourish.
"That's why we're a team," said Rubio, who was one of the first players to rush to Ridnour after he hit the winner.
* Nikola Pekovic started and played 32:29, but just 2:38 in the fourth.
He missed all seven shots he attempted in the first half, made three of four in the second half and reached yet another double-double (15 points, 12 rebounds).
Eight of his 12 rebounds were on the offensive boards.
He said afterward that his sprained ankle caused him some pain, but said it was fine.
He didn't play much in the fourth not because of that injury, but because Williams on Millsap and Love on Jefferson worked for the Wolves defensively, for the first time all night.
* Michael Beasley played just 8:37, all of that in the first half.
He now has played 9, 11 and 9 minutes in three of the last five games.
Adelman instead played Williams and Barea for the entire fourth quarter and Martell Webster for all but one second of the fourth.
*Darko! played more than one-tenth of a second tonight in his first game back after missing Monday's game because of an abdominal strain.
He played all of six minutes and nine seconds, and all of those in the first half.
That's all from Target Center for now.
Love, Williams and Rubio are catching a morning flight to Orlando while the rest of their teammates and coaches scatter all over for four days of rest.
I'll be following those three to Orlando later on Thursday and I'll have reports all weekend from All Star weekend.
The Wolves will reconvene in L.A. for practice Monday evening before they play three games in three nights starting Tuesday against the Clippers.
Blog at you later from Orlando!
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