Justin K. Aller
Even severely shorthanded, the Wolves still can't be beat without some last-second magic
Kemba Walker earned the nickname 'Cardiac Kemba' playing college ball at UConn, when he became infamous for things like this:
It's kind of nice to know it still takes that much to beat these Wolves. Six players in street clothes and it still comes down to a gut-check jumper, last possession of the game. And you know what? I'm ok with that right now.
Ok, when the season started, we vowed to be done with moral victories. But with literally half the roster injured....including 4 of the 5 starters....I think we can make an exception.
Think back to two years ago, when Kurt Rambis was captaining the HMS Timbertanic into the gigantic frozen block of water called reality. Not once did those Wolves show anything close to what we saw from this team tonight. Rambis' Wolves went into every game knowing they were overmatched and playing like they had already lost. Adelman's Wolves went into this game knowing they were overmatched and not caring. They play like there's nothing to lose. Reckless abandon of the best kind.
And leading the kamikaze charge is the player we (I...) said was going to be the key for this team: Andrei Kirilenko. There is no possible way to exaggerate how good the Russian Rifle is at this basketball thing. When he arrived, we were hoping we'd at least get the 2010 version of Kirilenko. Now we're realizing we got something way, way better: a version of AK-47 that puts even Kirilenko circa 2004 to shame.
Nobody not named LeBron James is playing better ball than Andrei this year. Utah must be sad, sad pandas right now. Seriously, how do you pick Carlos Boozer over this guy? Or even Deron Williams? (Yeah, I said it) He's averaging 12 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, and shooting 57% from the field. We started off the season thinking we might need to re-think the best wing player list in Timberwolves' history. Now it looks like we may need to rethink the best player period list. AK-47 looks to be top 3. At least.
Add to that the continued emergence of Alexey Shved, who continues to show promise as a possible go-to scorer. Dante Cunningham continues to show that he's not fazed by anything short of the apocalypse...hard work and buckets, rain or shine (and it sure is pouring right now...) Luke Ridnour continues to be Cool Hand. And Malcolm Lee figures out how to do this:
So forget the final score tonight. Forget it. Doesn't count. (Well, ok, it counts, but you get the idea). Because some day soon (..er....ish...) your team will be adding the NBA's best power forward, a deadeye sharpshooter, a 5'10" Puerto Rican hurricane, and a Spanish Unicorn to the Russian Rifle, Cool Hand, Inferno, Serbian Unicorn and....Leezy....? they already have.
That's somewhere in your future. Contemplate it. Digest it. Be excited.
And yes, I am listing Pekovic as the only center on the depth chart. Because when a guy hobbles off with a rolled ankle then tells reporters "I didn't hurt nothin', just a lot of pain"....well yeah.
So I'll give Kemba his 5 minutes. He earned it. He's a good player, even if it did take him a year to remember that. I'm more interested in the next 5 months, when this team gets healthy and reassembles itself at full strength. If it takes this much to beat us now, think what it'll take to beat us in February.