It has been yet another frustrating season for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Kevin Love. They had hopes of finally breaking their playoff drought coming into the season. With a 110-101 victory at the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, those hopes are still alive.
Love can do it all for the Timberwolves. His statistics were absolutely staggering coming into Tuesday night’s battle with the Suns; he was averaging 26.5 points per game, 13.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.4 made three-pointers while shooting 46.4 percent from the field, 37.8 percent from three-point range and 82.5 percent from the free-throw line. What more can you really ask from the guy?
The problem has been that the Timberwolves have had trouble closing out games and do not have great depth to their team. Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic, Corey Brewer and J.J. Barea are all good players, but each player is limited as to what they can do. Rubio is an excellent ball-handler and passer, but he cannot shoot and is a liability on the defensive end. Martin is a pure scorer but is not much of a playmaker and is a liability on defense as well. Pekovic can score inside and is a solid rebounder, but he has been injury-prone and has now missed 13 games this season. Brewer is a good defender and can shoot the three but is also limited on the offensive end. Barea can be a terrific man off the bench, but he is also limited on both ends due to his size.
Tuesday night was a similar story only with a different ending. Love was once again sensational with 33 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists and two blocks. He also received solid contributions from Brewer, Rubio, Dante Cunningham and rookie Shabazz Muhammad. Pekovic and Martin each missed the game due to injuries.
Goran Dragic struggled to stay on the court for the Suns due to constant foul trouble throughout the contest, and he fouled out having played just 25 minutes. Gerald Green, Markieff Morris and P.J. Tucker each played well for coach Jeff Hornacek, but the Suns just did not have enough with Dragic being limited.
The victory now puts the Timberwolves at 28-29 and pulls them within 4.5 games of the Suns and the eighth seed in the NBA‘s Western Conference.
There is no question that if Minnesota plans to make the playoffs they need to get hot right now. They are too far behind to have any lapses and allow for many off nights. The Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies and the Suns are all playing too well at the moment that they will make it difficult for the Timberwolves to grab either the sixth, seventh or eighth seed.
Still, with 25 games left, the season is not yet over for the Timberwolves. They made up some ground on Tuesday night. Now they need to keep it going.