Celtics-Timberwolves Live: Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio Impressive as Wolves Hand C’s 104-89 Loss

Courtney Lee, Jeff GreenFinal, Timberwolves 104-89: If the Timberwolves can stay healthy — and that is a massive “if” — they have the makings of a really nice team. And that’s not just because they cleaned the Celtics’ clocks.

Kevin Love posted 22 points and nine rebounds as he and the Wolves dominated the glass, 54-40. Despite forcing only 11 turnovers, they held the Celtics to 38 percent shooting — although that may be more due to the Celtics’ poor shooting than to Minnesota’s good defense, honestly.

Ricky Rubio had a game-high seven assists for the Wolves, who led by as many as 22 points. The Celtics had no real statistical standouts, although Brandon Bass held his own against the taller and heavier Love and Nikola Pekovic.

Fourth quarter, 3:25, Wolves 102-82: Jordan Crawford has had a decent preseason, but the talk of him being a “pure shooter” needs to stop. Crawford is now 1-for-5 from the field and 0-for-3 from beyond the arc.

Crawford has always been more of a shot-taker than a shot-maker. He’s a career 30-percent 3-point shooter but averages 3.7 attempts per game.

With his passing abilities, Crawford could be useful to the Celtics if they can rein in his penchant for shooting and get him to focus on making plays for others.

Fourth quarter, 5:58, Wolves 91-78: It doesn’t look like the Celtics are going to get a second preseason win here. But at least Olynyk can walk out still feeling good about himself.

Fresh off his first basket of the night, Olynyk slipped past Dante Cunningham and flipped in a right-handed layup from the left side. Olynyk now has four points and six rebounds, not the worst line in 17 minutes, although most of that has come with Pekovic and Love replaced with the much less intimidating duo of Ronny Turiaf and Cunningham.

Fourth quarter, 8:04, Wolves 87-76: Kelly Olynyk has had a tough night. Pekovic and Love are simply not good matchups for the slender rook.

It took until less than nine minutes remained in the game for Olynyk to get on the scoreboard, but he did it with an emphatic dunk off a Celtics miss. This game has shown one of the biggest problems Olynyk could have as an NBA player, muscling down low with bigs who truly are “big.”

End of third quarter, Wolves 81-72: Faverani may be more in the mix for playing time after all. He showed off a nice left-handed hook shot off a drop step on the left block, then made Love work for a fake-and-go dunk.

Yes, Faverani got dunked on, but getting physical enough to annoy Love is something.

Love now has 18 points, one shy of Martin’s game-high 19, and is tied with Williams for the team-high of seven rebounds. Bass leads everyone with eight boards and is on his way to a double-double with 10 points.

Wallace leads the Celtics with 16 points, but Green has come on. He now has 12 points and chased down Corey Brewer on a break and swatted away Brewer’s layup attempt.

Third quarter, 3:26, Wolves 73-66: Vitor Faverani may never start and could be a long way from being at the top of the rotation, but the Celtics will need him.

With Sullinger in particular struggling to gain position on massive Pekovic, the Celtics needed to go to 6-foot-11, 260-pounder to challenge Minny’s earth-moving center. The rookie hasn’t been outstanding, but he does have a basket and has at least given the ox-strong Pekovic some resistance.

Third quarter, 5:40, Wolves 71-66: Everything anyone says about Rubio’s slick ballhandling and passing is true. Everything.

We can’t capture one dribble or pass in this game that has stood out, because all of them are special. The knocks against Rubio are his defense and shooting, but his playmaking skills are transcendent enough to make up for that.

His defense is still awful, but he did can a set-shot corner three and is 4-for-7 from the field. If he improves that shot of his, he will rocket even higher up the list of the league’s top point guards.

Halftime, Wolves 57-51: Ricky Rubio and Avery Bradley has an interesting little something going at the end of the half.

Rubio sneaked in and picked off an inbounds pass by Jared Sullinger after a made basket, and down the other end Bradley returned the favor by picking Rubio’s pocket in the backcourt. After Bradley stole the ball and dropped in a two-handed dunk, he hit the ball on his way down and got hit with a delay of game technical.

The more those two go at it, the more interesting this game will be. Bradley is known for his defense, while Rubio is known for his passing and ballhandling. That has the makings of a fun matchup.

At the end of the first half, Kevin Love leads all scorers with 16 points. Gerald Wallace leads the way for the Celtics with 12 points, but Brandon Bass probably is playing the best all-around game for the Celtics with eight points and five rebounds. Bradley has three thefts.

Second quarter, 2:37, Wolves 50-47: Brad Stevens is a big believer that an average 3-pointer is a better shot than a bad 2-pointer. But what about a bad 3-pointer?

Wallace and Sullinger — and Crawford, of course — have taken multiple bad threes. Wallace’s more recent one, a 25-foot no-chancer, came at the end of the shot clock, but he had at least two seconds to take on dribble in toward the arc.

Pretty much all of those shots have been bricks. The only exception was a swish by Wallace from the top of the key to make that trio 1-for-7 combined beyond the arc.

Second quarter, 5:57, Wolves 45-40: Bass doesn’t always do things right. But whatever he does, he does it all-out.

The power forward/center has been working hard in the post, muscling his way in for offensive rebounds and drawn fouls. He’s gotten himself into some awkward situations, and only bad things happen when he dribbles, but he did gobble up a missed layup by Bradley on the break and score the putback against a couple of recovering Minnesota defenders.

Second quarter, 7:53, Wolves 41-34: MarShon Brooks is not the only two-guard on the roster who can score. Jordan Crawford and the resurgent Lee have shown that, and if Green begins playing more shooting guard, Brooks will have more competition for playing time.

Brooks therefore has to do more of the little things guys like Lee have done to earn playing time this preseason. He did that with two putback layups. Those sort of hustle plays could stand out, especially for a team that figures to miss as many shots as the Celtics do.

End of first quarter, Wolves 31-27: Maybe the Kevin Love show will turn out to be the Kevin Martin show.

Martin now has 11 points, sharing the game’s high with Love. One thing that has never been in dispute about Martin is his ability to fill up the cup and his willingness to shoot. He is 3-for-5 from three, which is kind of incredible — that he’s taken five threes already.

On the Celtics’ side, a big lineup of Olynyk, Green, Wallace, Sullinger and Bradley was probably the team’s best combination so far. They generated two wide-open layups for Wallace, and Green essentially playing the two presents matchup problems for the Wolves.

Wallace and Green now have 19 points combined in a double-wing one-two punch.

First quarter, 6:21, Wolves 18-7: Another preseason game, another slow start.

Bass and Lee gave the Celtics a promising start with a hard drive to the rim for a foul and a crossover jump shot, respectively, but the Celtics’ spacing has been all off on offense and their rotations on defense are inconsistent.

Love would have the makings of a 40-point night in the works — if it wasn’t preseason. He’ll probably be limited to about 25 minutes, which is good news for the Celtics. Otherwise Love’s eight-point, three-rebound start would have the makings of a highlight-reel night.

5:06 p.m.: After a couple games of stability, the starting lineup is in flux again.

Gerald Wallace and Courtney Lee will be out there for tip-off in Montreal as the Celtics play their final road game of this preseason. Wallace and Lee have arguably been the Celtics’ best players of the preseason along with Jared Sullinger, who is pretty much assuring Kris Humphries will not crack the starting five again soon.

The projected starters appear below.

Celtics
Jared Sullinger
Brandon Bass
Gerald Wallace
Courtney Lee
Avery Bradley

Timberwolves
Nikola Pekovic
Kevin Love
Corey Brewer
Kevin Martin
Ricky Rubio

8 a.m. ET: After a rough 2012-13 season, Courtney Lee has reason for optimism in a new year. The sixth-year guard has focused on his strengths this preseason, forgoing offense in favor of defense and hustle.

Occasionally, that has translated into big scoring nights, such as when he posted a team-high 14 points in a loss to the Nets. More typical have been games like Wednesday’s, when Lee scored only four points but had five assists and three steals.

In the penultimate exhibition game of the 2013 preseason, the Celtics journey to Montreal to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Bell Centre. Lee will look to keep his solid play going, although he may have to declare it at customs.

Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 6 p.m. ET.

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