Fast start propels Knicks past Timberwolves
The Sports Xchange - MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman had good reason to worry before Wednesday's 118-106 loss to the New York Knicks at Target Center.
His team had just won four of five games on the season's longest road trip -- and six of its last seven overall -- before it arrived home to begin a portion of its schedule that presumably was more favorable for a team chasing a distant playoff spot in the West.
But Adelman knows better, even if his Wolves played a Knicks team that had lost seven consecutive games and 10 of its last 11.
"Long road trip, 11-12 days, the first one is always the one you worry about the most," Adelman said. "I don't care what their record was or how many losses they had in a row. When you have (Carmelo) Anthony, (Amare) Stoudemire, J.R. Smith, I mean you let them get going and it's really tough."
The Wolves did indeed let the Knicks get going, to a first-half start that produced leads of 16-5, 38-22 and 44-28 before they made it a game with a 24-13 burst that ended the third quarter.
That got them within 88-86 with a quarter still to play, but Adelman sent starters Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio to the bench for a rest and left only starting center Nikola Pekovic on the floor. Meanwhile, New York coach Mike Woodson left starters Anthony, Stoudemire and Raymond Felton on the floor and the Knicks essentially won the game with a 15-2 run that opened the fourth quarter.
"Completely different teams from the way we were playing on the road to the way we were playing tonight," said Wolves backup point guard J.J. Barea, whose team won at Utah, Phoenix, Sacramento and Denver and lost only at Portland on that five-game trip.
Anthony scored 33 points -- even if he needed 27 field-goal attempts to do so -- and 20 of them came in the first half for a team whose only victory since Feb. 7 was a win at New Orleans just after All-Star break. He opened and closed that decisive 15-2 run by scoring a field goal.
"It's just good to get off this slide," Woodson said. "I told them this morning that until someone tells us that we aren't going to make the playoffs and we don't have a shot at it, we have to keep playing. Stranger things have happened. We have 21 games left and we have to win them all. That's just the way I look at it."
The Knicks now are 22-40 while the Wolves fell back to .500 at 30-30 after getting above it with Monday's victory at Denver for the first time since late January.
"We are players who have been in this league for a long time; between us we have 12, 13 All-Star appearances and Defensive Player of the Year," Stoudemire said. "So we know how to play the game of basketball. It's just a matter of time until we gel and figure it out. So far we are doing it."
Forward Kevin Love scored 19 points -- but just one point after halftime -- for the Timberwolves, who failed to gain ground on Dallas and Memphis in the chase for that final playoff spot. Both teams lost as well on Wednesday and the Wolves now are five games behind Phoenix for that eighth and final spot.
"Other teams are losing and we're behind them, but we can't give in and say, `Well, this is a killer.' I know everybody's going to say that, you shouldn't lose to the Knicks, it's a killer. Well, if we go out and beat Dallas or San Antonio. ... We just have to go out and beat Detroit (Friday). We lost this game. It's not going to be perfect. I don't worry about this is really damaging, I worry about the way we played, I worry about the way we're going to play Detroit. That's what I worry about."
Love failed to reach 20 points for the first time since Jan. 25 against Portland. He had scored 20 or more in 14 consecutive games and had reached 30 points in 11 of his last 14 starts before Wednesday's game.
"He isn't going to have 35 points every game, let's be realistic," Adelman said. "He is going to have some nights where they're just going to stay with him all the way. ... It's just one of those games. He'll bounce back from it."
NOTES: Wolves F Kevin Love averaged 34 points and 14 rebounds a game in February, but lost out to Los Angeles Clippers F Blake Griffin when the NBA announced its Player of the Month award on Wednesday. "He (Love) just had a terrific month," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "You can't say enough about the month he had." ... Rookie F Robbie Hummel and injured backup C Ronny Turiaf were the Wolves' inactive players Wednesday while injured F Kenyon Martin and C Andrea Bargnani were the Knicks' inactives. ... Knicks backup C Cole Aldrich grew up in nearby Bloomington, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis. ... The Wolves allowed 83 points in two quarters after surrendering 45 in the fourth quarter of Monday's victory at Denver and Wednesday's 38-point first quarter against the Knicks. ... Love entered the game leading the NBA in double-doubles (50), 20/10 games (39, including his last 13 consecutively) and 30/10 games (18).