The Sixers come out flat against the Timberwolves
Michael Carter-Williams dunks home two of his 13 points in the Sixers' loss to the Timberwolves. (USA Today Images)
The Sixers returned home for the first time since Dec. 20 only to have their season-best four-game winning streak snapped by the Minnesota Timberwolves, 126-95, Monday night (see Instant Replay).
Here are a few things that caught our eye from the game:
1. Young on fire
Fresh off being named Eastern Conference Player of the Week (see story), Thad Young stayed hot. Actually, just like in the NBA Jam video game, it seemed as if the ball was going to burst into flames every time Young touched it.
The most impressive of Young’s buckets was one that didn’t count. With three-tenths of a second left on the shot clock during the first quarter, Young shot-putted one in from 26-feet, seemingly ahead of the buzzer. However, after a review, the three-pointer was waived off.
No worries. A few possessions later, Young shot a corner three that hit the front of the rim, bounced up to the very top of the backboard, and dropped straight down.
When you’re hot, you’re hot.
2. Hot and cold?
The Sixers shot nearly 60 percent during the first half, going 5 for 9 from three-point range, 14 for 25 in the paint and 4 for 6 on long two-pointers. Under normal circumstances, shooting like that will put a team way out in front.
But with these Sixers, there are no normal circumstances.
The 12 first-half turnovers by the Sixers turned into 18 points for the Timberwolves. With that, the 16-point halftime lead was more than enough for Minnesota.
Speaking of cold, it appears as if the Timberwolves brought the polar vortex with them from their home state. Maybe that’s the reason why the T’wolves looked so comfortable at the Wells Fargo Center.
3. MCW vs. Rubio
As Sixers coach Brett Brown said many times this season, “It’s a point guard’s league.” And so with rookie Michael Carter-Williams up against young Spanish point guard, Ricky Rubio, it’s kind of like a bantamweight fight.
In this one, the tale of the tape is on Carter-Williams’ side. The rookie went for 13 points with seven assists and four rebounds. Rubio had four points, eight assists and three boards.
Of course, Rubio didn’t play much during the fourth quarter because the Timberwolves had built a comfortable lead. Beside that, Rubio was charged with just one turnover while Carter-Williams committed four.
Turnovers, as we noted, decided this one early.
4. The Love Man
Kevin Wesley Love gets his middle name from his dad’s former teammate, Wes Unseld, the Bullets’ Hall-of-Fame center. Unseld was known for his ability to grab rebounds and throw quick outlet passes before his feet ever touched the ground. During the third quarter on Monday night, Love tried one of the outlet passes his namesake was known for, only the result wasn’t there.
Oh, Love made a great pass. In fact, Love’s pass went the length of the floor where Corey Brewer was streaking to the basket. However, Brewer missed the layup and Love missed out on an assist.
No worries. Love scored a game-high 26 points on 7 for 12 shooting with seven rebounds. Mark it down as a rare non-double-double for Love.
5. Three’s a crowd
The secret to the Sixers’ successful, four-game road winning streak? Defense, of course.
The Sixers won a season-best four in a row because they were able to keep the opposition from hitting three-pointers. In the last four games the Sixers held their opponents to 27 three-pointers with 15 of those coming in the last three games.
It didn’t go so well at home on Monday night. Minnesota buried 16 threes, conjuring memories of the Sixers’ defense before they went on the road.
The Sixers have allowed at least 15 three-pointers in an NBA record eight games this season.
6. Hot shooting on a cold night
The Sixers announced the attendance of 10,736. Considering the artic climes and biting wind, that’s not a bad sized crowd. Then again, many schools were cancelling Tuesday classes because of the expected sub-zero temperatures. Since it wasn’t a school night for some, maybe more kids should have showed up for the game?