Chase Budinger scored 20 and Nikola Pekovic added 19 as the Minnesota Timberwolves dominated from the opening tip against the Milwaukee Bucks in the preseason finale as Minnesota earned an easy 100-74 victory Friday night at the Resch Center in Green Bay.
Milwaukee started out quickly, ahead 6-3, but Minnesota scored 10 consecutive points to put the Timberwolves ahead by seven. The run included 3-pointers by Budinger and Brandon Roy, forcing Milwaukee to call its first timeout of the game.
Roy only played 16 minutes, but scored seven points on 2-of-3 shooting and added an assist as well. Budinger made 4-of-5 3-pointers, leading the way for the Wolves.
The Bucks tried to make a comeback, having an 8-0 run to cut it to 36-27. With a few minutes left in the half, Milwaukee got the crowd involved, as off of a steal, Brandon Jennings made a tip pass to Marquis Daniels for the dunk, which cut the Minnesota lead to 43-33.
But with three seconds left in the first half, Alexey Shved made a nifty pass to fellow Russian newcomer Andrei Kirilenko for the two-handed dunk, posterizing Ekpe Udoh, and giving the Timberwolves a 48-36 lead into halftime.
Shved had a game-high eight assists to go along with six points. Kirilenko filled up the stat sheet again, scoring eight points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He also dished out four assists and had a game-high six steals.
Shved was back at it to start the second half, as he buried a 3-pointer from the right wing and was fouled. He made the free throw to complete the 4-point play. That was followed by a Budinger 3-pointer and a Budinger alley-oop from Shved on the next two possessions for the Timberwolves to make it a 57-38.
Milwaukee made a few mini runs in the second half, including a crazy layup by Jennings and a foul. He made the free throw to cut it to 68-53.
Jennings led the Bucks with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting. He also added five rebounds and three assists, but turned the ball over five times.
The Green Bay crowd gave a standing ovation to Wisconsin native and former University of Wisconsin big man Greg Stiemsma when he checked in in the fourth quarter. He wasted little time making an impact as Will Conroy found Stiemsma for an alley-oop to put the Timberwolves ahead 82-62 midway through the fourth.
That was Stiemsma’s only basket in eight minutes of action. He also grabbed a pair of rebounds.
After a basket by Milwaukee, Conroy missed an open 3-pointer, but Derrick Williams cleaned up the mess with a putback slam.
Williams finished with 13 points in 21 minutes of action. He also grabbed six rebounds.
Another big ovation came in the fourth when former University of Wisconsin star Alando Tucker entered the game for the Bucks.
Wisconsin’s all-time scoring leader did not disappoint, splashing a mid-range jumper late in the fourth for his only basket of the game in two attempts. He finished with three points and one rebound against his former team.
Minnesota shot 51.4 percent from the field to Milwaukee’s 36.1 percent and outrebounded the Bucks 44-40. The Timberwolves also led in steals 13-7 and destroyed the Bucks in the paint, outscoring Milwaukee 48-26 in that area.
In addition to Pekovic’s 19 points, he also hauled in nine rebounds, second on the team.
Monte Ellis had a game he’d like to forget for the Bucks, shooting just 1-for-11 from the field and turned the ball over five times.
The Timberwolves open up their season next Friday against the Sacramento Kings at 7 pm at the Target Center.