Game 4: 99-82
It feels a little strange writing one of these after a win. Again, I will not be providing any overall game analysis as I defer to the experts. This is designed to provide a player based analysis to the game and be fun. With that said it was a tale of 2 halves for many of the Wolves players in my opinion. We begin with:
Michael Beasley; 31 minutes, FGs 3-10, 3P 0-0, FTM-A 2-4, +/- +8, Reb 7, Ast 1, PFs 2, Stl 1, TOs 2, BS 0, BA 2, Pts 8
If this game ended after the first half I would have been inclined to give Michael a B. His decision making on the offensive end was excellent as he made several nice passes (one of which resulted in a Darko alleyoop) and he was aggressive in driving to the hoop. He did take a few long 2s, but they were uncontested and reasonable attempts. He was a net zero on defense in the fist half. However, the second half was a completely different story. First, he looks lost in trying to play the PnR and i think Shawn Marion absolutely destroyed him today. To this end, Shawn blocked 2 shot attempts Michael had as he tried to unsuccessfully drive to the basket. He had several bad passes in the second half and hurt the team greatly when he was in. Regardless, I think he is starting to get it a little bit offensively based on his first half performance and his aggression on offense. He rebounded the ball well today. Yet, his defense remains extremely poor. Here's to hoping his finger is not badly hurt and he can improve on these shortcomings.
Kevin Love: 37 minutes, FGs 9-16, 3P 5-6, FTs 2-2, +/- +15, Reb 17, Ast 1, PFs 1, St 1, TOs 1, BS 1, BA 2, Pts 25
After the fist half I felt Kevin had earned himself a B based on his inability to defend Lamar and his poor shooting. However, his second half performance was superlative. He shot the ball extremely well in the second half making several 3 pointers as his shooting markedly improved. He simply seems far more comfortable in the offense when Ricky is in the game. He is the heart and soul of this team and he was outstanding in the second half, particularly as Dallas went away from Lamar in the second half even though I felt he was giving Kevin problems despite the fact his numbers are not phenomenal. On a side note I do feel Kevin defended Dirk relatively well and I was very happy he put Dirk in precarious positions by driving the ball aggressively when Dirk was guarding him, particularly in the first quarter.
Darko Milicic: 15 minutes, FGs 2-3, 3P 0-0, FT 3-4, -2, Reb 2, Ast 0, PF 1, St 0, TOs 0, BS 0, BA 0, Pts 7
Again, Darko is playing above the minimal expectations I had for him. Today he generally played within the offense with the exception of an ill advised dribbling attempt in the first quarter that almost resulted in a turnover. He was available to his teammates at the basket and was aggressive when he had the ball close to the rim with 4 free throw attempts to show for it. Unlike the previous games I don't feel he had a great defensive game as it appeared that he had some early difficulty guarding Haywood. Undoubtedly, part of the reason for this is that Ridnour and Johnson played very poorly defensively resulting in Darko having to rotate off of Haywood. In the third quarter Darko did nothing of note as, unlike all the other players, I noted nothing about his performance in the third quarter.
Luke Ridnour: 29 minutes, FGs 5-9, 3P 0-3, FT 1-1, +11, Reb 2, Ast 3, PFs 2, St 1, TOs 2, BS 0, BA 0, Pts 11
I am starting to feel like a broken record when it comes to Luke, but his defense is so bad that it more than offsets what he provides offensively. On numerous occasions today it looked like we were playing zone when we were really playing man to man simply because Luke could not stay with his man. In fact, it kills me how badly the Wolves play pick and roll defense, and Luke is at the heart of this problem. If not for Dallas missing numerous wide open 3 attempts the Wolves would not have won this game as easily as they did, if at all. Luke did have a good shooting performance and I found it interesting that Adelman used him at the 2 position in the fourth quarter along side Ricky. Luke had several stupid turnovers in the first quarter, but did clean this up in the second half as I'm sure RA lit into the team during halftime. It also helped that Ricky did most of the ball handling in the fourth quarter, but he did have several nice passes in the second half. Unfortunately, I feel he hurts us more than he helps us.
Wes Johnson: 13 minutes, FGs 1-7, 3P 0-2, FT 0-0, -3, Reb 1, Ast 1, PFs 2, St 1, TO 1, BS 0, BA 1, Pts 2
Why is it I feel like I'm kicking a helpless dog when I review Wes' performances? Between him and Anthony Randolph Wolves fans witnessed an unbelievable level of ineptitude. Defensively, he could not keep up with West and he didn't play the PnR well. He had one nice play I can think off hand (assist to Darko), but was largely horrendous otherwise as he shot the ball extremely poorly. There is a reason his +/- was -3 in 13 minutes despite playing in a game where the Wolves won by 17. There is also a reason his minutes continue to trend downward.
JJ Barea: 16 minutes, FGs 4-11, 3P 0-3, FT 0-1, +6, Reb 3, Ast 2, PF 1, St 0, TO2, BS 0, BA 1, Pts 8
There was some good and some bad with JJ Barea, but before I get to it I was tempted to give JJ an incomplete today because he didn't seem right. He simply seemed slower than normal today suggesting his hamstring was bothering him or he was concerned about it. He took several ill advised, contested shots, and he missed several open jumpers. However, his defensive effort was excellent. Indeed, the effort Luke exerts fighting through screens pales in comparison to that displayed by JJ.
Ricky Rubio: 26 minutes, FGs 4-8, 3P 2-3, FT 4-4, +14, Reb 3, Ast 7, Pfs 2, St 0, TOs 4, BS 0, BA 1, Pts 14
In the first half Ricky didn't play that well with several unforced errors (entry pass to Dwill, errand full court pass to Dwill, etc.) However, this was more than offset by the way he played in the second half. He was tremendous offensively displaying surprising aggression and he made tremendous passes (the bounce pass to Kevin immediately comes to mind). He was largely responsible for the Wolves run when the game was 84-82. He simply changed the game. In addition, he made much better decisions in the second half as I'm sure RA spoke to him during half time. In fact, after he made his lone turnover in the second half on an errand bounce pass he pounded his chest as he was subsequently the ball upcourt as though he was telling RA that he recognized his mistake and would not do it again. Ricky seems to have a preternatural feel for the game that he exhibited again today. When he came in the game in the second half he was very aggressive offensively which was uncharacteristic, but as we all know, he is a winner and I am guessing he was just fed up at that time and decided to take control of the game. Amazingly though, even when he had the hot hand, he subsequently passed on several open looks (1 to Beasley and another to Love) which I suspect he did because he wanted to keep his teammates involved. You simply have to love the guy. The only reason he doesn't get an outright A today is because of his turnovers.
Anthony Randolph: 17 minutes, FG 1-6, 3P 0-0, FT 2-2, +1, Reb 4, Ast 0, PFs 2, St 0, TOs 3, BS 2, BA 1, Pts 4
Anthony had a reasonable first half with several timely blocks and nice rebounds. He played within himself and did not adversely effect the offense. In contrast, AR had an atrocious second half with numerous turnovers, ill advised shots, stupid fouls, etc. It was basically night and day as we saw "good AR" in the first half and "bad AR" in the second half. Indeed, I was surprised RA stayed with him as long as he did. Here's to hoping we see more of the "good AR" because I really don't like that "bad AR" guy.
Derrick Williams: 15 mintues, FG 1-3, 3P 0-0, FT 2-4, +12, Reb 7, Ast 0, PFs 1, St 3, TO 0, BS 0, BA 0, Pts 4
I don't know what it is about Derrick, but I barely notice him when he is in the game sometimes. However, today he did very well on the boards and had some nice defensive plays (3 steals). However, he didn't contribute too much offensively and he still looks overmatched on defense at times. Regardless, he is playing reasonably given that this is only his fourth game.
Wayne Ellington: 11 minutes, FG 1-4, 3P 0-0, FT 1-2, +9, Reb 2, Ast 0, PF 0, St 0, TO 0, BS 0, BA 0, Pts 3
I don't have a lot to say about Wayne today. He was 1-4 from the field with his make being an ill advised, contested shot he took after driving to the basket. However, he played with reasonable defensive effort and did protect the ball. He gets a C from me.
Anthony Tolliver: 26 minutes, FG 5-8, 3P 3-5, FT 0-0, Reb 6, Ast 0, Stl 0, Blk 0, TO 1, PF 3, +14, Pts 13
A tremendous game for AT where he played well defensively, rebounded the ball well and contributed offensively with numerous timely 3s. I forgot to include him in my initial report card which is problematic because he deserves a B+ (potentially an A-) for this game, and because I wanted to make a quick comment about advanced statistics here. JPete alluded to the fact that AT has one of the worst PERs in the league this season. To me, advanced statistics, PERs, etc., fail players like AT (like they did Dennis Rodman) because they don't account for the impact he has on the team that isn't evident in numbers. Regardless, advanced statistics are quite useful in general, but are not great for characterizing the impact of a guy like AT at times.
That completes the Wolves report card for today. Please feel free to give your own grades for the Wolves players for today. Aside from that there are 2 questions I have for the CH community.
1) I was thinking about what an A game for each Wolves' player would entail. Therefore, I ask you guys what you think any or all of the Wolves players needs to do to earn an A grade. I will likely use the criteria developed in writing these report cards in the future.
2) Today JPete spoke about how there were 16 teams without a player he would trade straight up for Kevin Love. Of course, we don't want to trade Kevin, but I am wondering who it is you would trade Kevin Love straight up for.
I apologize for any and all grammatical errors as I don't have time to revise this.