Buzzer-beating loss to Pistons ends Wolves' preseason

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 25, 2013 - 6:53 AM

– The Timberwolves flew home after Thursday night’s last-second, preseason-ending 99-98 loss at Detroit confident that they will no longer be the NBA’s worst three-point shooting team this season, not by that proverbial long shot.

In Wednesday’s victory at Philadelphia, the Wolves shot 29 threes and made 15 of them, which is the second highest in any game — preseason, regular season, postseason — in franchise history.

On Thursday, they made 12 more on 33 attempts.

Even point guard Ricky Rubio made three Thursday, on six attempts. But the Pistons ultimately won thanks to Josh Smith’s desperation, bounding three-pointer at the horn.

Last season, the Wolves made only 30.5 percent of their threes. This preseason, with Kevin Love back healthy and Kevin Martin brought aboard, they made 37.6 percent and weren’t shy doing it.

“I don’t mind that if they’re good shots,” coach Rick Adelman said, referring to the 62 threes his team tried on consecutive nights. “I don’t mind that at all. We had some good looks at it. There’s where the ball is going to go.”

The ball in Adelman’s offense is going to find Martin and Love — deft shooters both — beyond the arc, and it’s going to find Rubio, too.

If Rubio makes enough to keep opposing defenses honest — and Thursday’s 15-point performance was more than that — it just might define the team’s upcoming season.

“It’d make a huge difference, it really would,” Adelman said of Rubio’s shooting. “He shot it pretty confidently tonight. Even his twos, he looked good on them. He was catching and shooting. He had good rhythm to it and he looked good doing it tonight.”

Rubio credited hard work and stronger legs after a full summer’s work and in his first full season back from knee surgery in March 2012.

“It feels better, I’ve been shooting good,” he said. “I feel comfortable and I’m going to keep shooting. I’m healthy now. I can improve on other things.”

Rubio and Love each made three threes Thursday. Guards Alexey Shved and J.J. Barea made two. Martin went 1-for-5 after shooting 50 percent (9-for-18) on threes in the Wolves’ first six preseason games.

Barea’s driving layup off the glass with 3.6 seconds left gave the Wolves a 98-96 lead before Smith heaved up a long three just before the final horn that hit the front rim and bounded high in the air and then around the rim before falling in.

Adelman praised Barea for his conditioning, shooting and play over the entire preseason.

“I’ve got to keep this rhythm up,” Barea said. “I feel great, I feel healthy. … My shot feels great. Me, everybody, if we’re open, we’ll shoot ’em. If we shoot that much, we have to make some.”

Precautionary Pek

Ronny Turiaf started at center in Nikola Pekovic’s place because Pekovic suffered a bruised thigh after getting kneed Wednesday.

Pekovic wore warmups and watched from the bench, an absence Adelman termed precautionary with the season opener just six days away.

“Two days,” Pekovic said, estimating his recovery time. “It’s no big deal.”

A different look

After contemplating starting Derrick Williams, Shabazz Muhammad or again Robbie Hummel, Adelman started Dante Cunningham at small forward because of Detroit’s formidable front line of Smith, center Andre Drummond and power forward Greg Monroe.

Cunningham’s ability to play some small forward gives Adelman options when the Wolves face a big opposing frontcourt. By starting Cunningham there, he also can find time for Williams at his more natural “stretch” power forward position subbing for starter Love there.

“Dante’s going to have to play there some against certain people because he can guard those people,” Adelman said. “Tonight was a good night to try it because they are so big up front.”

Etc.

• Detroit played without point guard Brandon Jennings (wisdom tooth) as well as guard Rodney Stuckey (thumb) and forward Charlie Villanueva (sore back). Veteran Chauncey Billups also didn’t play, calling the absence a “maintenance day” for his aging body.

• Wolves big man Chris Johnson didn’t play again, the fifth time in seven preseason games in which he didn’t get off the bench. He played nine-plus minutes in two games and clearly isn’t part of Adelman’s plans. The Wolves can create two roster spots for four other players competing for jobs if they waive Johnson and pay him his $916,000 guaranteed contract.

  • DETROIT 99, WOLVES 98 (EXHIB.)

    Season opener: vs. Orlando • 7 p.m. Wednesday • Target Center • TV: FSN (830-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland 86 FINAL
Indiana 93
Washington 81 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Golden State 113 FINAL
Toronto 89
New York 121 FINAL
Detroit 115
Orlando 88 FINAL
Atlanta 95
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Boston 106
LA Clippers 97 FINAL
Memphis 79
Brooklyn 98 FINAL
Houston 102
Miami 102 FINAL
New Orleans 104
Minnesota 89 FINAL
Chicago 96
Utah 104 FINAL
Denver 82
San Antonio 107 FINAL
Sacramento 96
Milwaukee 79 4th Qtr 8:03
LA Lakers 76
Oklahoma City 91 4th Qtr 10:37
Portland 82
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 2
Calgary 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Washington 0 FINAL
Carolina 3
Chicago 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Colorado 5 FINAL(SO)
Dallas 4
Los Angeles 2 3rd Prd 6:51
Anaheim 3
Siena 63 FINAL
Quinnipiac 73
Harvard 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Penn 69 FINAL
Brown 75
Fairfield 65 FINAL
Canisius 72
Manhattan 75 FINAL
Iona 79
Saint Peters 67 FINAL
Marist 69
Princeton 60 FINAL
Yale 81
Ohio 58 FINAL
Akron 70
Dartmouth 84 FINAL
Columbia 71
Valparaiso 56 FINAL
Cleveland State 53
Louisiana Tech 75 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 88
Seton Hall 77 FINAL
Xavier 60
Cornell 54 FINAL
Harvard 60
Yale 49 FINAL
(14) Princeton 67
Elon 51 FINAL
Drexel 54
Northeastern 47 FINAL
James Madison 82
St Johns 60 FINAL
Butler 49
Creighton 71 FINAL
Georgetown 62
Brown 58 FINAL
Penn 75
Columbia 50 FINAL
Dartmouth 60
Canisius 54 FINAL
Siena 58
St Josephs Brooklyn 35 FINAL
NJIT 78
Western Carolina 86 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 80
Colorado 66 FINAL
Arizona 51
Southern Ill 72 FINAL
Bradley 66
Drake 59 FINAL
Wichita State 80
Indiana State 71 FINAL
Evansville 53
Illinois State 53 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 67
Northern Iowa 70 FINAL
Missouri State 72
Utah 42 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 46
Providence 62 FINAL
Villanova 71
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How do you like the Kevin Garnett trade?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close