Wolves win second straight on road; Love's double-double run hits 38
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Tuesday's game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Houston Rockets appeared on paper to be one of those mismatches that happen throughout the course of an 82-game season.
The Wolves were coming off an emotional, draining victory a night ago over the New Orleans.
Finally, they were playing a Rockets team they haven't beaten in their last 13 games.
But as the old cliché goes, that is why they play the games, as the Wolves get their second consecutive "biggest win of the season," beating the Rockets 112-108.
It was a total team effort for the Wolves, who got the win despite missing four of their top five scorers -- but the man of the evening was Kevin Love.
Love shook off flu-like symptoms to secure his 38th consecutive double-double, besting Kevin Garnett's franchise record of 37 and owning the longest streak in the last 25 NBA seasons.
The All-Star forward finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds -- including two big 3-pointers down the stretch and the free throw that iced the game in the waning seconds.
The bench once again stepped up in the absence of some of the bigger-name Wolves players, putting up 48 of the 112 points scored.
Wayne Ellington scored a career-high 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including 2-of-3 from behind the arc.
A night after putting up 12 big points, Anthony Tolliver did it elsewhere, grabbing 10 crucial boards and playing the strong defense that has made him a very useful player off the bench this season.
Sebastian Telfair continued to get run off the bench with Ridnour still away from the team dealing with a family issue. Telfair scored 14 and continued to demonstrate that he is capable of playing significant minutes in this league.
Starting at point guard for the fifth consecutive game and continue the type of erratic play that has driven Wolves' fan nuts since David Kahn used last years' sixth-overall pick on him.
Flynn was playing one of his best games of the season but picked up a technical late in the fourth quarter and missed a wide-open layup with 16.9 seconds left in the game that could have put the Rockets away.
Despite the mental errors, Flynn did put up a season-high 15 points and dished seven assists, but did turn the ball over five times. But despite the ups-and-downs, Flynn has done enough that the should be given the starting reigns, if for no other reason that it is time to find out what they have in last seasons lottery pick.
The Wolves now have a few days to recover and have a chance to do something Friday that didn't even seem plausible a few days ago -- go undefeated on a road trip.
They take on a suddenly-hot Indiana Pacer team that has won four of their last five since firing head coach Jim O'Brien.
Ridnour has been away from the team since last Wednesday while dealing with a personal matter.
According to the Wolves' public-relations staff, Ridnour was on his way to the arena for Saturday's 113-100 loss to the Denver Nuggets but never made it. It is obviously a delicate situation for Ridnour and it is assumed he is going to get the time he needs to be with his family.
It seems unlikely at this point that Ridnour would rejoin the team for the final game of the road trip Friday at Indiana.
Ridnour's absence also lets the Wolves get extended looks at both Flynn and Telfair as the trade deadline approaches.
Webster has missed the last three games with back spasms and is not on the team's current road trip. Webster missed the first 24 games of the season after undergoing back surgery to remove piece of a herniated disc from an injury suffered last season while he was still with the Portland Trailblazers.
Webster has looked up-and-down in the 25 games he has played since returning in December but has never regained the same quick step and bounce he showed in the Wolves' first six preseason games in October. He has admitted to still being in pain and at times looks a lot older than 24-years-old.
There is no time-table on when Webster will return but it isn't expected to be serious. Per usual, Rambis has been quiet on Webster's status, giving only some variation of his favorite, "I left my doctors degree at home" joke when asked about it.
Beasley missed Tuesday's game against the Rockets after he had his weekly left ankle tweak, the fifth time he has injured that ankle since January. It was also the third game that Beasley has sat out and admitted that it is time to shut it down for a few games to get his ankle right.
Beasley is a tough player that always wants to be on the floor but while the team sits on 13 wins, it is time to look big picture and let his ankle heal. Although intentionally tanking games is never encouraged, the lower the final win total come seasons-end the better for the team's draft status. If a player is injured -- and Beasley is -- common sense says he should be given time to get healthy. This franchises best days are -- hopefully -- ahead of them and there is no need to jeopardize long-term goals for short-term victories.
Lastly, Darko Milicic left Monday's game after just four minutes with a hip-flexor injury. Darko has seemingly dealt with some nagging lower body injury all season long, a product of being 7-feet 250 pounds.