The story of the night was the debut of rookies Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams. They did not disappoint, hooking up for a highlight-reel alley-oop in the third quarter.
Kevin Love picked up right where he left off last season, scoring 21 points along with 15 rebounds. The Timberwolves shot 62.5 percent from the 3-point line including a perfect 8-8 in the second quarter.
Ricky Rubio is ready for the NBA. He made numerous no-look passes, had great court vision and managed to draw a couple fouls en route to a six-point, seven-assist, six-rebound and two- steal night. His alley-oop to Derrick Williams in the third quarter will probably result in 15,000 tickets being sold tomorrow in Minnesota. He likely would have had ten or more assists, but other players couldn't finish after being on the receiving end of one of Rubio's great passes.
Additionally, Rubio made a couple great plays on defense, and didn't seem to have any trouble physically. He was out of position a couple of times and needs to work on staying home in the zone but that should come in time.
Derrick Williams looked good as well. His shot was right on, outside of one bad airball, on his way to 14 points, He hit some big three-pointers and came down with the aforementioned alley-oop, hitting Darington Hobson directly in the face with the ball after the dunk.
Kevin Love looked smooth after losing 15-20 pounds this offseason. It was debated whether or not that would benefit Love, but it appeared that he was a little quicker and didn't lose any rebounding ability at the new weight. No one was too surprised when he ended the first half with his double-double already in the bag.
JJ Barea will fit in just fine. He was a great spark-plug off the bench. With him and Rubio on the court at the same time, the Timberwolves will be able to create some interesting matchups this season. Between Barea and Rubio, many other players got great looks and that certainly led to the very high shooting percentage tonight.
Michael Beasley was on fire to start the game. He came to play tonight, and could be poised for a big year with the new guard combo opening up great looks for him.
Bonzi Wells looked like a 35-year-old who didn't play in the NBA last year. Was a step slow on everything and took bad shots.
There were some things that needed work. The defense did get sloppy at a couple points, but that's to be expected this early. Ridnour should not start this season; Rubio looked a lot better. I think Ridnour will be put on the trade block fairly quickly (if he's not already), with Lee taking his place as the third point guard.
New coach Rick Adelman is a drastic improvement over the previous regime. The defense was markedly improved after only a week of practice together. If the Wolves had shown that type of effort last season, they could have easily had 15 more wins.
While it was only a pre-season game, it was comforting to see all the question marks on this team play great for one night. Seeing Ricky Rubio in a Timberwolves uniform was something a large contingent of the fanbase didn't think they'd ever see, and he did not disappoint.
A lot of optimism was built in Target Center tonight, and Timberwolves fans should have a lot to be excited for this season.
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