I'm not gonna lie, I was dreading this. This signs weren't pointing to an enjoyable 48 minutes of basketball for Wolves fans - the last game of a back-to-back-to-back against the reigning MVP and his rather talented band of merry men. The Raptors game didn't help. Neither did the first quarter. I had visions of being exiled from CH for not having a single positive word to write about our beloved Wolves. Then hope rode in on a magical unicorn.
Firstly, take a look at the box score:
|Minnesota Timberwolves (3-7)|
|M. Beasley||DND - Right Midfoot Sprain|
|M. Lee||DND - Left Knee Torn Meniscus|
|N. Pekovic||DNP - Coach's Decision|
|42.3%||36.4%||81.2%||team rebs: 6||total to: 11|
Wes Johnson: B-
Coming into this game, it appeared poor Wesley couldn't hit water from a boat. However, in his meagre minutes in the first quarter he again gave his followers hope with a putback born of sheer frustration. This apparently gave him the much-needed confidence that we've been longing for since the start of the season. With a pair of jumpers he brought his total to six, along with two rebounds, and was removed, never to be seen again (more on this later). This lack of minutes, along with his TO, means I can't give Wes more than a B-.
Kevin Love: B, probably B+
I am as much a Love lover as the next guy, but over the last few games our All Star has frustrated me and maybe some of this criticsim is not specific to this game. I know that this is only my opinion and many will disagree but some things have to be said. Love's work in the post, on both ends, leaves a lot to be desired. He was blocked three times and his finishing around the rim is almost Darko-like at times. In the second quarter Asik scored twice in a row on him in the post in almost exactly the same way. Sometimes it even appears as if he passes up on helping out defensively in the hope of adding to his own rebound total.
Now that I have that off my chest I can focus on his many many positives. A 20-13 game is always admirable, but what really impressed me is his free throws (100%!) and only one turnover - both of these have been issues for him recently and its good to see an improvement. His clutch 3pt play in the fourth again showed he has the stones to lead and is a legitimate star. I gave Kevin a B, but that might be because he and I are going through a rough patch. Most people probably would have given him a B+.
Darko Milicic: C-
Why does he think he can make that hook shot?
Little contribution (not fair to say none - he had a rebound and an assist), but unfair to fail him because of his minutes. Also, doesn't it just feel like he has got so used to Love bailing him out that he just expects it now?
His shot selection should mean that he shouldn't be allowed to start. He's like a guard version of Beasley without a high ceiling to redeem him. (Please don't point to the Washington game in opposition to this - even a broken clock is on time twice a day.) I know I used the minutes excuse to give Darko a C-, but Ellington contributed nothing. Nothing at all.
Luke Ridnour: A
There has never been any doubt about Luke's ability to shoot, and he seems to be adjusting well to his role as SG when Ricky is on the floor. Against Chicago, who admittedly aren't great at the 2 without Hamilton, Luke was perfect from the arc and a reliable presence at the line. He was too small to cover Korver, but we can't hold his height against him. If he continues to be the staring point guard we will need more assists, but I'm still holding out hope for Ricky or JJ to replace Ellington soon. All in all, another good performance from Luke - the best Wolf on the court in this game.
Ricky Rubio: B
We have to take the bad with the good. I am not saying that this was a bad performance by any means, but there are reasons he only gets a B for a double-double game. No disrespect to Russell Westbrook, but this was the first time Ricky matched up with a truly elite NBA point guard, and at times it wasn't pretty. Probably in an attempt to combat Derrick Rose's speed, Rubio played very far (too far) off him, and was duly punished by Rose's shot. Whenever Rose penetrated, Ricky was almost always thwarted by a screen. However, he will learn and still managed to showcase enough to keep us all as excited as ever.
His assists total speaks for itself. His jumper looked good again and his penetration reminded us that he is "not soft". Defensively he forced TOs and had four steals, and his help defense was admirable as always. Rebounds very well for a rookie PG.
JJ Barea: B
I am never worried when the ball is in JJ's hands. Had four points in a row when he entered, but unfortunately left prematurely. A relaible free throw shooter as ever, but sometimes he goes into 'saviour mode' in an attempt to get a bucket, rather than looking for a pass. No assists, low minutes and another injury, but lively off the bench.
Incidently, with all the athleticism this team has, the open court breakaway resulted in a JJ layup instead of a highlight dunk - typical.
Derrick Williams: C+
Not a great showing from DThrill. Okay, he brought some defensive intensity when he initially entered and nailed that 3 with harm, but we really need more consistency. This guy is going to be a difficult matchup and draw fouls, but he needs to hit more shots and make his FTs if he is to be effective.
Anthony Tolliver: C+
Entered the game as a one-man hit squad on Derrick Rose. The man will actually do anything for this team.
That 3 to steady the ship in the third was the only FG he made, though 3/4 from the line is good for him. Unfairly matched up with more physical bigs wasn't really his fault, and he still managed to get a steal and a block. His effort is never in question, but his output just wasn't good enough considering how long he was on the court.
Anthony Randolph: B+
I've been saying it all along and it has finally happened - Randolph did not disappoint with more minutes. He has been reliable from the field and from the line any time he has played this year, and a steal and a block showed he can contribute defensively. Would have been given an A if he had grabbed more boards, but I think this would improve if he was started. Surely he's worth a gamble after this performance. I'm holding out hope - Adelman has shown that he chooses to finish games with the players he trusts, so we could be seeing much more of Anthony in the near future.
Some general thoughts
- I'm going to risk a stoning, be blasphemous, and question Rick Adelman. He picks starters like Darko and Ellington (and Wes), waits until they fall behind by a sizeable margin, panics and sends in Rubio in the hope that he can bring it back. I know it has been asked so many times, and people will reply in the same way to this, but why not just start Rubio and maybe we wouldn't need bailing out at the end of the first?
- Adelman starts Wes, Wes does rather well, Wes is taken off and we don't see Wes again. Where is the logic in that?
- Loul Deng is exactly the type of wing player this team needs. I'm not saying we should try to get him, I'm not saying we could get him, I'm simply saying that this type of player would be perfect.
Running with Mikey B's idea,
Topp Dogg tonight was Luke Ridnour.
And the Goat has to be Wayne Ellington.
I enjoyed doing my first post and look forward to hearing everyone's responses.
P.S. Sorry its so late.