Wolves top New Orleans to finally get back above .500

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 30, 2014 - 6:32 AM

They shot poorly but New Orleans was worse, enabling the Wolves to leapfrog the .500 mark for the first time since November.

view larger photos


Beauty is a subjective thing. But this was a game maybe only a Timberwolf could love.

Why, even Rick Adelman, up on the podium addressing the media as the coach of an NBA team with a winning record for the first time in two months, found plenty to find fault with.

“No energy in the game, anywhere,” he said.

The Wolves struggled on offense and spent most of the night letting a New Orleans team without three top players hang around. But in an 88-77 victory at Target Center — the Wolves’ lowest point total in a victory this season — there were some beautiful nuggets to be found.

The Wolves won without injured center Nikola Pekovic. They won while shooting only 40.2 percent. For the first time in 11 tries since Thanksgiving, the Wolves entered a game at .500 and won, period.

“We don’t want to get too up,” forward Kevin Love said. He scored 30 points with 14 rebounds and five assists while playing a season-high 43 minutes and 26 seconds, and then immediately went downstairs for a weightlifting session. “We’ve been playing some good basketball. … But we still have a lot of work to do.”

The Wolves have now won consecutive games while scoring 95 and 88 points. One of the league’s highest-scoring teams is learning to win games when the going gets a little tougher. The Wolves (23-22) have won five of six games, perhaps the beginnings of the kind of run the team has been looking for all season.

“This is a game where, earlier in the season, we might not have been able to have the mental toughness to stick with the program and weather the storm,” said Ronny Turiaf, who had four points and eight rebounds starting in Pekovic’s place. “I feel it shows some growth.”

While the Wolves barely cracked 40 percent shooting and were 4-for-20 from three-point range, the team turned in another strong defensive opponent. Two nights after holding Chicago to 37.6 percent shooting, the Wolves coaxed the punchless Pelicans into a 29-for-82 evening (35.4 percent).

“It looks like we’re finally having fun playing defense, which is sometimes allergic to a lot of guys,” joked guard Kevin Martin, who scored 18 points. “I won’t say who.”

Still, this was a close game throughout, even though the Wolves never trailed. New Orleans (19-26), already injury-riddled, was without rising star Anthony Davis, who dislocated the index finger on his left hand Tuesday in Cleveland.

The Wolves led only 23-16 after one quarter. That lead was cut to four midway through the second, prompting an animated talking-to by Adelman. Up 67-62 entering the fourth quarter, Love took over. He scored on a layup, hit a 21-footer, then two free throws in an 8-0 run to start the quarter that put the Wolves up 13 when Dante Cunningham (12 points) hit from the lane with 9:57 remaining. The Pelicans, who got 18 points from Al-Farouq Aminu and 14 from Eric Gordon, never got closer than eight points again.

So does this feel like the start of something?

“It feels a lot better than the other runs we’ve had,” Adelman said. “No, it’s what we have to do. We have to get a feeling of how we win games. On that trip [the team’s recently concluded 3-1 road trip], we’re finding we can win these games. But we can’t stop here. Memphis [Friday’s opponent] is the type of game we have not won.”


  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Minnesota 94 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Houston 93 FINAL
Boston 87
Portland 99 FINAL
Atlanta 105
Sacramento 90 FINAL
Cleveland 101
Toronto 127 FINAL
Brooklyn 122
Dallas 93 FINAL
Miami 72
LA Clippers 103 FINAL
New Orleans 108
Golden State 100 FINAL
Utah 110
Chicago 93 FINAL
Phoenix 99
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL(SO)
Carolina 2
Nashville 0 FINAL
Colorado 3
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Vancouver 5
Chicago 4 FINAL
Anaheim 1
Harvard 75 FINAL
Princeton 72
Quinnipiac 57 FINAL
Canisius 63
Brown 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Siena 79 FINAL
Manhattan 87
Marist 65 FINAL
Niagara 61
Dartmouth 51 FINAL
Penn 58
Oregon 68 FINAL
Arizona State 67
Yale 63 FINAL
Columbia 59
Monmouth 60 FINAL
Fairfield 59
Western Ill 63
Oregon State 34 FINAL
Arizona 57
Kent State 55 FINAL
Buffalo 80
Canisius 75 FINAL
Monmouth 58
Butler 67 FINAL
Providence 59
Cornell 65 FINAL
Brown 52
Columbia 47 FINAL
Yale 55
Coll of Charleston 47 FINAL
Drexel 64
Penn 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 39
Elon 60 FINAL
James Madison 89
(19) Princeton 96 FINAL
Harvard 46
(9) Florida State 82 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Siena 62
Richmond 54 FINAL
Rhode Island 50
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Southern Ill 64
Georgetown 52 FINAL
DePaul 93
Villanova 75 FINAL
Marquette 59
Wichita State 70 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
Xavier 65 FINAL
Creighton 74
Bradley 58 FINAL
Illinois State 55
Missouri State 89 FINAL
Drake 94
Arizona 48 FINAL
Utah 62
(11) Arizona State 68 FINAL
Colorado 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: How should Timberwolves fans greet Kevin Love on Saturday?

Weekly Question