The team were warmly received, and everything seemed a little fresh in the stadium. A new game-day host (B-Wright), and some new dancers accompanied the almost new roster of players on the Timberwolves squad, and none of them got a bigger cheer than Michael Beasley.
The VT shown on the big screens before tip-off was keen to indicate what David Kahn and Kurt Rambis have been saying all summer: this is a new and improved Timberwolves squad, full of fresh and exciting players. I was anxious to see how their European escapades would help them converge as a team.
The game started with the Nuggets slightly on the front foot, foul trouble being the only major problem for the home side, but eventually the Timberwolves got into their stride and were up by two at the break. The Target Center began to really get behind the team, and if weren’t for the class of Carmelo Anthony, Arron Afflalo and Nene, the Timberwolves would have been up by more.
The second quarter was more of the same, and it looked like being a tense but enjoyable ball game through out. In fact the only thing that was flat was my half-time Pepsi.
Fitness, and the Timberwolves’ range of scoring options was ultimately turned the tide in the second half, especially when foul trouble meant Carmelo Anthony had to come off in the third quarter. At the end of the third quarter, the Timberwolves were up by 9, and finished the game 14 in front. There was definitely a lot of positives to take out of the match, and a lot for Timberwolves fans to be happy about.
The only fans in the stadium without a smile on their face was the unfortunate guy whose girlfriend refused to kiss him on the “Kiss Cam” after asking five times. Mr Romantic eventually mauled her face in true Timberwolf fashion to a great cheer from the crowd. The conversation in the car ride home must have been unbearable.
One of the major Timberwolves strengths was from outside; Wesley Johnson was ice cold. He made 3-of-5 from three-point range, but at times his frame made him look like the Fantastic Four’s Mr Stretch. I'm wondering how long Corey Brewer will be in the team if they both carry on with their respective form.
Beasley and Kevin Love also contributed strongly from the outside, but point guards Luke Ridnour and Sebastian Telfair (who both passed and controlled the game effectively) as well as Anthony Tolliver and Martell Webster showed they can knock down a three when it counts. Surprisingly, Wayne Ellington only had one attempt from outside, which he missed. As a team they shot 47.8 percent from outside.
The Timberwolves, with 15 NBA wins last year beating a team with 53 NBA season wins last year should be a surprise, but in a way it wasn’t remarkable how the team played, and it showed a lot of promise for the season ahead.
The usual suspects showed up. Love showed he can rebound as well as anybody, taking 15 off the board. Beasley showed he can be the guy to score and make the Timberwolves tick, getting 21 even though his field goal percentage was below the team average. Finally, Darko Milicic got three of the Timberwolves’ 13 blocks.
Not bad Timberwolves…same effort and result next week please.