Granted it was only a preseason contest, and the first of the year at that; however the Minnesota Timberwolves looked far better than the team that finished in dead last in the Association last season on Saturday night as they pummeled the Milwaukee Bucks 117-96. T-Wolves All-Star forward Kevin Love entertained the crowd at the Target Center as he recorded a double-double with 21 points and 15 boards, while Michael Beasley also knocked down 21 points for the night. It was also the NBA debut for Ricky Rubio; a player that Minnesota fans have long-awaited. The native of Spain came off the pine and had 6 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds and 2 steals in front of his new hometown fans.
Milwaukee’s high scorer was rookie forward Jon Leuer who came off the bench and scored 18 points in his NBA debut. Leuer, was a second round pick by the Bucks in June and played for Skyliners Frankfurt in Germany during the lockout; he signed a two-year deal with the Bucks earlier this week. Mike Dunleavy in his first game in a Bucks uniform had 16 points in the loss.
Milwaukee held the advantage for most of the first until Rubio hit a mid-range jumper with 27 seconds left and the T-Wolves held the lead at the end of the period 26-24. The Bucks would hold a ten point lead over their opponents with 8:26 in the second when Shaun Livingston hit an outside jumper putting his team on top 38-28. Momentum would soon change however, and Minnesota would take over the contest late in the quarter. Jose Juan Barea hit a one-foot shot at the buzzer and the Timberwolves walked into the locker room ahead 62-52.
Minnesota dominated the entire third quarter and would go up by 14 points when Rubio drained a pair at the line with five seconds on the clock; giving the T-Wolves the lead heading into the fourth with the score 92-78. The Bucks would never get within single digits in the final 12 minutes of play as Minnesota won with ease.
Love had a double-double with 21 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists and a block while Beasley scored 21 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assist and 1 block. Barea in his first game for Minnesota added 14 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds while Derrick Williams chipped in 14 points and had 2 rebounds for the night.
Jon Leuer knocked down 18 points, 5 rebounds and had 1 assist to lead Milwaukee. Dunleavy had 16 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals and a block while Carlos Delfino contributed 11 points, 2 assists, a rebound and a steal. The two teams will meet again on Wednesday in Milwaukee.