Martin returns, Wolves beat Celtics 104-89 in Montreal
- Blog Post by: Jerry Zgoda
- October 21, 2013 - 1:03 AM
The Wolves got Kevin Martin back in the starting lineup Sunday night in Montreal after he missed essentially three games because of that sore Achilles and you could see immediately what kind of difference he makes.
Kevin Love simply says Martin is the wing scorer for whom the Wolves have been waiting.
Here's the game story from Sunday with my latest Wolves Daily (Monday Edition) imbedded as well, shot just outside the NHL's Canadiens' locker room (you'll see some of their 24 Stanley Cups behind my noggin).
Just some quick random thoughts from the game, which improved the Wolves to 3-2 in preseason play:
* Don't worry about that "last in the NBA" stuff about this team's three-point shooting. That's so last year. Wolves made 10 of em tonight (OK, so they shot 25, but that's 40 percent).
Martin had half of those 10 -- that's five (on eight tries) for those keeping score at home -- and Love went 2-for-8, but it wasn't because of his hand. That shot here in preseason looks the Kevin Love from two years ago, not last year, even if the percentages don't say so yet.
* With Martin back and with five days of practices behind them after that unusual eight-day break, the Wolves starters -- with Derrick WIlliams inserted for Corey Brewer -- got off to a quick 18-7 start (remember starts have been their problem in those first four preseason games).
They still led by 11 midway through the fourth quarter when Rick Adelman sent the starters -- with Brewer for Williams this time -- back into the game and in 2 1/2 minutes they ran the lead to 20 points thanks to a 11-2 run.
Adelman said afterward that he believes this team will shoot the ball well and score without issue but defense and small forward remains issues.
* Martin and Love combined to score 43 points, but Rubio made the Wolves go with his passing and just enough offense to keep the Celtics' D honest: He turned the corner and got to the basket like he needs to do and made five of nien shots, including 2 of 3 threes. He doesn't need to shoot it great. He just needs to be enough of a threat to keep the defense honest.
* Williams played 23 minutes in the start, which Adelman said pregame was an experiment to help him decide where the team is going with that spot with opening night now just 10 days away.
Williams did a little of everything -- 7 boards, 2 assists, a block, 5 points -- and afterward Adelman said Williams played hard, tried to defend but he needs to continue to evaluate.
That probably means he and Flip Saunders will have more discussions if they can find either a more accomplished backup to Brewer at that spot through a free-agent signing or if they can find a starter through a trade.
* There was one bonafide NBA starting small forward on the floor Sunday, but it was the so-very-available Celtic Gerald Wallace, who makes $10 million a year and has three years left. No doubt he is the kind of player the Wolves seek, but he's 31 and that a huge contract for a team that by the time it expires will be paying Love, Nikola Pekovic and Rubio in the double-digit millions a year.
Still, that's the kind of trade -- a veteran starter with a big contract that another team wants to deal -- the Wolves will have to make if they decide to get something for Williams now rather than let him go later for nothing. Either that or swap Williams for a similar young player who hasn't yet achieved as his draft position dictates, such as Philly's Evan Turner.
* Good luck Brad Stevens. The rookie coaching trying to make the leap from Butler and college to the NBA is looking up the mountain. The Celtics with KG, Paul Pierce and injured Rajon Rondo are 1-6 in preseason play now and should be firmly in the Andrew Wiggins Sweepstakes.
© 2015 Star Tribune