Timberwolves beat Milwaukee to get first win; team wants to run
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MINNEAPOLIS – In their season opening loss to the Sacramento Kings, the Timberwolves scored 35 fast break points, their highest single game total since putting up 36 in 1999 and just the 10th time in 15 years they have scored more than 30.
With an overhauled roster filled with young, athletic players, the plan is to be a running team, but the 35 point outburst opening night likely exceeded everyone's expectations.
"Will it be that high all the time?" coach Kurt Rambis asked rhetorically. "I seriously doubt it."
Rambis said the unusually high amount of fast-break points against the Kings was more of an indication of that particular game, rather than what he expects the norm to be.
It didn't take long to prove Rambis' theory correct. In their 96-85 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night, the team had just 14 fast break points.
But make no mistake -- this team wants to run.
"We do want to push the basketball, we do want to get fast break opportunities and hopefully our defense gets to a point where we are creating turnovers, getting deflections, getting those easy scoring opportunities," Rambis said. "That's the whole objective of what we want to do."
Acquiring Michael Beasley, Martell Webster and Anthony Tolliver in the off-season allows the team to push the ball rather than run the offense it had the previous two seasons—throw the ball in to Al Jefferson then stand around and watch.
"We do want to play an exciting brand of basketball and we have the athletes—bigs and smalls—to get up and down the floor," Rambis said, "and we have guards that can push the basketball so it suits the type of players that we have."
Rambis credited the Bucks transition defense for limiting fast break points Friday.
"I think Milwaukee is very good defensive team, they are very aggressive and active and mobile," Rambis said. "Even though we got a lot of stops, got a lot of rebounds we cant push the ball against htem because they do a good job of getting back."
The Timberwolves know that any good fast-break starts on the defensive end, an area the team knows it has deficiencies in. Against the Kings the Wolves gave up 117 points to a lottery team from a year ago missing their best player, Tyreke Evans. Further, poor defense caused their best player to be benched for the final nine minutes of the game, causing premature coach/player feud talk to spark.
"(Defense) takes time," Rambis said. "We wish we could just snap our fingers and it all happens beautifully and magically really quick but that's not how it works. Getting everyone to understand everything that they have to do and be in the right place at the right time, it just takes time."
The team didn't snap its fingers and become the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls but they did take a step forward defensively in their second game of the season, holding the Bucks to just 85 points and on 35.6 percent shooting.
After giving up 28 points in the first quarter the team buckled down on defense allowing just 57 points through the final three frames.
The Wolves will face much tougher opponents this season than the Milwaukee Bucks but if they continue to improve defensively, specifically their help defense, they have a good chance of becoming the running team they are striving to become.
"In our offense if we get stops we are able to run as much as possible," point guard Sebastian Telfair said.So that's why our defense is a big part of our offense. If we get a stop our first option is to run and get an easy basket."