Jefferson, Love lead Wolves past Bucks
Love had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Al Jefferson added 19 points to lead Minnesota to a 95-76 exhibition victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night.
Love missed nine of 10 shots and scored just four points in Minnesota’s loss to Chicago on Wednesday night, the Wolves’ preseason home opener.
“To have a game like that you’re first game out, people were probably thinking, ’Geez, what’d we get into?”’ Love said. “I had never played that bad before. I just had to bounce back.”
Love led a second-half surge as Minnesota outscored Milwaukee 27-15 in the fourth quarter to finish the preseason 6-2. Milwaukee (1-6) will close its exhibition schedule Friday night at Chicago.
Minnesota trailed by as many as 10 in the first quarter and 13 in the second, but fought back to grab a 68-61 lead by the end of third.
“We have been pretty poor out of the locker room in every game, in the third quarter,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. “There is a huge mental aspect of all sports, but the NBA in particular, and there is definitely enough evidence right now that we are not as mentally ready as we need to be in certain moments of the game, and starting the third quarter is one of them.”
Rashad McCants had 15 points, including a stretch of 10 straight late in the fourth quarter, for Minnesota. Randy Foye scored eight third-quarter points after going scoreless and missing all four of his shots in the first half.
Center Dan Gadzuric led the Bucks with 13 points, and Luke Ridnour added 12 points and seven assists.
The Bucks played without 7-foot center Andrew Bogut, who stayed in Milwaukee to rest an injured left ankle. Bogut is expected to be ready for the season opener Nov. 1.
“I think it’s going to come, guys getting used to what we need to do,” Milwaukee forward Richard Jefferson said. “I think we only shot in the high 30s, which is not typical of what this team is capable of. It is still the preseason, we have another game and a couple of practices before we really draw it up there for real.”
Both teams are looking to improve on bad 2007-08 seasons.
In order for Minnesota to get better, Love will have to prove he was worth acquiring in exchange for O.J. Mayo in a draft-day deal that also landed Minnesota Mike Miller.
“He’s got great confidence,” Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said. “I’m not worried about him. He bounced back tonight. He showed you.”
Wittman also doesn’t have to worry about Jefferson, who averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds last season and had a strong preseason.
“With Al, Kevin and Craig (Smith), we need to jam it inside when we’re not hitting perimeter shots,” Wittman said. “If we do that, we’ll be fine.”
Notes:The Wolves waived forward Chris Richard, guard Blake Ahearn and center David Harrison before the game. ... Bucks guard Charlie Bell, battling an Achilles’ injury, played for the first time this preseason. He scored three points in 13 minutes. “I am getting there, slow and steady,” Bell said. ... Wolves center Calvin Booth saw his first preseason action. Booth has been bothered by back spasms.