I have a long day of tile grouting ahead of me so this is going to be a short and sweet game wrap with nothing but bullet points.
- The Wolves have their 1st winning streak since April 11th and 12th, 2008.
Kevin McHale is now 4-10 at the head of the bench; Witt was 4-15. I still think the Disaster in Dallas/Dwane Casey's Revenge was a fireable offense. Perhaps we're blinded by all the winning (and yes this is something of a joke), but McHale was clueless in that 2nd 1/2 in Dallas and his team quit at the end with timeouts remaining while still very much in the game. That being said, I'd be lying to you if I didn't say that the team was playing much better under his tutelage. And so goes a Wolves fan's relationship with the Iron Ranger.
- The Wolves' Pythagorean W-L is now 10-24.
- Yesterday's tilt was won with offensive rebounding. Check out the Four Factors
- When you collect that many of your misses, things are good....unless you're missing a massive amount of shots....which the Wolves did....but still won...is this really something to get excited about or would they be that much better if they could simply shoot an eFG approaching 50%?
- Can someone please tell me why the Artist Formerly Known as the Rhino is still starting in place of Kevin Love? Last night Smith played about 7-8 minutes at the beginning of each half before his ineffectiveness was replaced by Mr. Love.
- Last night in the 1st 1/2, Love gathered 4 OReb that led to 8 points. One play was particularly impressive: With the Wolves down 14-15, Love outworked 2 larger Bulls to keep a ball alive and tap it to a teammate. After his teammate missed his shot (I believe it was Ryan Gomes), Love grabbed and OReb and put the ball back in the bucket. If ever a rebounding/hustle sequence was worthy of a highlight package, this was it. He's still struggling with his mid-range jumper (it looks like he's fading away even on open shots) but Love is playing solid ball of late. In his last 5 he is averaging .520 from the field with 8.8 points and 7.4 boards (2.6 OReb) in 21 mpg. And yes, those numbers break out pretty well when spread out over starting minutes.
- Love seems to have a special chemistry with Sebastian Telfair. After Kevin Ollie went down with an elbow injury (we wish him a speedy recovery), Bassy played the point for 38 minutes to the tune of 15 points, 6 assists, and a +22. He had 4 turnovers but he kept the pace brisk (96) and the offense moving. He is also running the p-n-r/p-n-p better than any Wolves guard has all year. We're actually seeing something called an "ally-oop" in the past few games. We Wolves fans are somewhat unfamiliar with this technique.
Rodney Carney is earning himself some minutes. As mentioned in yesterday's game recap, I'd like to see him get Corey Brewer's minutes this year so that the team can a) see what they have in Carney and b) get the rest of the team used to playing with someone with a similar game to Brewer's. It's fun to watch this guy in the open court.
- It's nice to see McHale start to get a predictable rotation going. Even though I don't like to see Smith in the starting lineup, it's beginning to look like he is a place holder for Love at the end of 1/2s and games. Rashad McCants was DNP-CD and Cardinal and Carney are pulling around 15 minutes apiece. I know we've heard a lot of talk about how McHale isn't playing the young guys enough, but he's putting solid rotations out on the court and I can really only bicker about Love not getting about 5-6 more minutes per game. Who knows? This may actually be the more solid approach in the long 82-game season.
- 4th Quarter Foye made an appearance last night. 2-2 from the field and 7-7 from the line in the 4th quarter are excellent. Foye laid low during the 1st 1/2 and then played his way into the pace of the game. It was nice to see. Hats off to Randy.
Wrapping this up, I thought there was an interesting little sequence near the end of the 2nd quarter when Al Jefferson took the ball in the high post, surveyed the floor, put his head down, and jacked up a mid-range jumper while Randy Foye and Mike Miller were open from beyond the arc. It was ugly. It was stagnant. It was reason for a timeout. On the next possession down the court, Al got the ball in the same spot, put his head down, and...McHale called a timeout. According to the Bulls announcers, Al was pretty pissed about the timeout because he thought he had an open shot. He did; just like the last possession where everyone was standing the hell around. After the TO the Wolves moved the ball around, guards were in motion, and Love delivered a pass to Jefferson in the lane for a layup. And so goes the Jefferson Paradox. He has the potential (often realized) to be an offense killer while, at the same time, being the team's most brutal offensive threat. It was nice to see McHale call the obvious TO and then run a play for his star player that also involved the rest of the team. When the rest of the team benefits, Al will prosper. Perhaps not to the tune of 25/15, but 18/14 is quite nice when you run an offense that allows for 18/12 from Love, 15/6 (asst) from Bassy, and 21 from Foye. If Mike Miller ever gets it figured out, this team could be on to something.