"The time has come," weird harold said, "to talk of many things: Of shoes--and ships--and sealing wax--of cabbages--and kings--and why the see is boiling hot--and whether Wolves have wings."My first two forays into Target Center this year were the Memphis and Cleveland debacles. Given that bit of context and another slow start by the Wolves tonight, I spent most of the first quarter with visions of this report card morphing into my grandmother's recipe for stuffed cabbage rolls instead.
First, praise be to CH's very own Delphi-like oracle, Tim Allen, for correctly predicting the outcome every single key matchup tonight. Un. Canny. As for the game itself, the Wolves recovered from the slow start with strong first quarter, third quarter and fourth quarter finishes. In between, and apart from a flat stretch spanning the last half of the second quarter and most of the third, I had the pleasure of witnessing some pretty nice basketball (with decent wing play!!!) for the first time this year.
Plus, Aaron Rodgers and Tim Tebow both lost this weekend.
Now, the grades.
Wesley Johnson ... B ... I wanted to give Wesley an 'A' simply because he showed more aggressiveness at both ends of the court tonight than I think I've seen from him in any game not played against his Mamba cousin, Kobe Bryant. Unfortunately, Wes also went 3-11, which effectively put the soft bigotry of my low expectations for him on hold. Still, it was nice to Wes try to get to the rim, even if the results weren't great.
Kevin Love ... A ... I love the ebb and flow of basketball. In most games, however, there are stretches during which it feels like everybody in the arena is just going through the motions of whatever while waiting for something else to happen. Players often seem to put themselves on cruise control for these lulls, until the action picks up. Kevin Love doesn't seem to do that. While other players are coasting, he keeps working ... relentlessly -- a free throw here, a board there ... a brick, a brick and then a three. I think this is why I'm so consistently amazed by his stat lines, which almost always appear more impressive than what I think I've just seen.
Darko Milicic ... C+ ... As we were reminded in the first few minutes of the game, Darko still sucks on offense. Fortunately, Darko was focused on the defensive end tonight, which resulted in an overall solid effort and an above average grade.
Luke Ridnour ... A ... Whenever we needed a big shot tonight, Luke managed to drain one. He outscored the Kings starting backcourt. He let Rubio be the primary shot creator and distributor when they were in the game together. He also kept his teammates involved when Ricky wasn't, finishing with a game-high 9 assists.
Ricky Rubio ... B+ ... Ricky's shot wasn't falling, but he was every bit as important to this win as his higher-graded teammates, Love, Ridnour and Ellington. Nifty passing, check. Maestro-like pace management, check. Sneaky good defense, check.
Anthony Tolliver ... C+ ... A solid but mostly invisible effort by the Creighton Wonder, who attempted only one field goal. Like Wesley, Tolliver's primary contributions were on defense. I can't say exactly what those contributions were because I hardly noticed him out there, but if memory serves ... he was on the floor during our two best stretches of the game (the end of the first and fourth quarters).
Wayne Ellington ... A- ... Wayne did everything you want your backup shooting guard to do tonight. He took (and MADE!) shots within the flow of the offense. He was good defensively too. Yeah Wayne!
Anthony Randolph ... C- ... Didn't play much and looked mostly lost when he did, which probably explains the "former" part of that statement. Go figure. (I didn't know coaches could restrict the minutes of players who performed poorly?!)
Nikola Pekovic ... B ... How can 5 points, 4 fouls, 3 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 turnover in 16 minutes of play add up to a 'B'? Simple, Pekovic put exactly one old-school hard foul on Demarcus Cousins in the 4th that effectively and emphatically reminded the then-horizontal Kings center that he is now and forever owned by a Montenegrin overlord. Period. Cuz.
Derrick Williams ... C- ... (See first sentence, Anthony Randolph comments)
Rick Adelman ... A ... A coach who seems to understand the game of basketball, who makes in-game adjustments and who acts like he really cares ... $5 million dollars a year. A coach who makes certain that Demarcus Cousins gets his annual refresher course in Pekovic studies ... priceless.
That is all. What say you?