Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio lead Wolves over Flip Saunders' awful Wizards
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Kevin Love led the way with 20 points and 16 rebounds, Ricky Rubio flirted with a triple-double and the Minnesota Timberwolves ran the Washington Wizards out of the Verizon Center on Sunday 93-72 for their first road win of the season.
The Wolves (3-5) also may have inadvertently gotten their former coach Flip Saunders fired as his Wizards (0-8) put out their most apathetic performance of the season.
It was a win against a bad Wizards team that appeared to be playing to get their coach fired, while the Wolves responded on the road after two straight losses at home in games they were favored to win.
Coach Rick Adelman challenged his team to respond on the road and they got a blowout victory in their first of back-to-back-to-back games.
Rubio also put together one of his best games, scoring 13 points, dishing 14 assists and grabbing six rebounds.
The rookie once again came off the bench and the Wolves were once again a different team with the Spaniard on the court.
Adelman was forced to alter his starting lineup for the first time all season after Michael Beasley was sidelined with a mid-foot sprain and did not make the two-game trip to the East coast.
Adelman said before the season he wanted to get Johnson more looks at small forward -- his preferred position -- in an effort to get him to attack the basket more, rather than playing a spot-up, 3-point shooting role he wasn't having much success with.
Johnson finished with five points on 2-of-8 shooting in 20 minutes. He was 0-for-4 from behind the arc.
Ellington, on the other hand, put up a season-high 13 points in his first start of the season. He shot 5-of-8 from the field, also adding two assists and three steals in the win.
Beasley being on the shelf also freed up more playing time for rookie Derrick Williams to get some extended run. The No. 2 overall pick in June's draft turned in one of the best performances of his young career, scoring 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting and also adding seven boards.
The game was such a rout late that even Nikola Pekovic got off the bench for the final minute, his first action of the season.
It was when Williams and Ricky Rubio were inserted into the game that the Wolves began to separate themselves from the woeful Wizards. The group went on a 20-5 run that built them the comfortable lead they maintained the rest of the game.
0: Free-throw attempts this season before Sunday for Johnson, who somehow managed to go seven games without managing to falling into a freebee.
3: Number of players off the bench who played more minutes than Johnson.
6: More assists for Rubio than the rest of the team combined. Rubio finished with 14 dimes and the rest of the team combined for only eight.
Beasley did not make the trip, opting to stay back in Minneapolis, where his foot will be re-evaluated by the team and presumably some sort of timetable will be set up for his return.
The earliest he could possibly play is Tuesday against Chicago, but even that seems unlikely. Beasley said he wants to be cautious with his foot after rushing back from an ankle sprain last season, causing the injury to linger and subsequently take longer to completely recover from.
Unlike Beasley, J.J. Barea did make the trip and was in uniform, according to the Wolves PR staff. Barea is still listed as day-to-day with the nagging hamstring injury he suffered in the second game of the season against Milwaukee.
There is still a possibility that Barea plays on Monday night in Toronto, but Tuesday's home game against the Chicago Bulls still looks like a better bet.
The Wolves are right back on the plane to Toronto for the second leg of the dreaded back-to-back-to-back setup brought on by the 66-game lockout shortened season.
After Monday's game against the Raptors, the Wolves will come home to host the Chicago Bulls and reigning MVP Derrick Rose.