Doug Collins was concerned about how his Philadelphia 76ers were going to respond against the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves one night after slugging out a victory over the mighty San Antonio Spurs.
All they did was deliver the kind of beautiful, unselfish performance that makes other coaches jealous, particularly Minnesota’s Kurt Rambis.
Thaddeus Young led seven 76ers in double figures with 18 points and Philadelphia cruised to a 107-87 victory over the Timberwolves on Saturday night.
”I said, ‘You know, we’re coming in here and we’ve had some success and we’ll see now how we handle it. We know we’ve bounced back when we’ve got our hearts broken, so let’s see how we do this,”’ Collins said.
Andre Iguodala had 15 points, seven assists and five rebounds, and Louis Williams had 13 points and five assists for the 76ers (26-28), who have won nine of their last 12 games to creep into the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Kevin Love had 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Timberwolves, his 40th consecutive double-double. But the Wolves shot just 36 percent to lose their second straight after surprising road wins against New Orleans and Houston.
”For whatever reason, we weren’t there tonight,” Rambis said. ”A good chunk of our guys, at least half of our guys, just weren’t there tonight.”
Elton Brand had 12 points and nine rebounds, Jodie Meeks scored 16 points and the unselfish Sixers shot 51 percent while committing just nine turnovers against one of the worst defensive teams in the league.
Luke Ridnour had 13 points and five assists in his first game for Minnesota since Jan. 29. He missed six games to deal with a family issue. Ridnour’s wife gave birth to twins recently, and there have been some complications. He said the boys ”had a good week” this week, but requested privacy as they deal with it.
”We’re just praying and continue to pray for our boys,” Ridnour said. ”We believe God’s doing miracles with them. So we’re doing well.”
The Wolves were playing without Michael Beasley for the third straight game because of a sprained ankle and also were missing starting center Darko Milicic and reserve swingman Martell Webster (back). They sorely missed Beasley, their most dynamic offensive player, against Philadelphia’s hard-nosed defense.
The Sixers came into Target Center on quite a roll, buoyed by a 77-71 win against San Antonio on Friday night that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said ”set offensive basketball back a decade or so.”
”We kept setting it back tonight,” Love said.
Philly picked up right where it left off against the Spurs, missing six of its first nine shots and blowing a four-on-one fast break in the early going. The Sixers eventually settled in against one of the worst defensive teams in the league, crisply moving the ball to get easy looks.
They outscored Minnesota 20-3 during a second-quarter surge to take an 11-point lead.
The Timberwolves closed the period on a 7-0 run and trailed by four at halftime, but some familiar problems resurfaced in the third quarter as the game slipped away. The ball movement was nonexistent, the turnovers came in bunches and defense was an afterthought as the Sixers pulled away.
”When you have big wins like that, like we had last night, the next game against a supposedly lesser opponent is a tougher game,” Iguodala said. ”It’s more important in a sense, I think. It kind of shows where the team’s at as far as not having too many ups and downs. Earlier in the year, we’d be way up here and we’d have a huge letdown the next night.”
Philadelphia capitalized on all the missed shots, getting out in transition with 24 fast-break points and racking up 24 assists.
”You see how they just snap the ball around and get the ball around and get the ball to open people,” Rambis said of the Sixers. ”That’s the way we would like to play.”
Notes: Philadelphia’s Evan Turner, the No. 2 overall pick, has had a quiet rookie season. But he made an impact against the Wolves with nine points, eight rebounds and four assists. … Beasley said before the game he hoped to play on Monday against Portland. … Webster missed his fifth straight game because of back spasms, but planned to practice on Sunday.