One would think a team that just went to the street to sign a broken down wing player to fill 10 minutes per game at the small forward so that Andrei Kirilenko could get some damn rest would have issues on the wing against a squad like the Golden State Warriors. AK can't cover everybody, after all.
However, even with Josh Howard getting his first minutes of action in a Wolves uniform about a decade after he should have donned the Minny blue, the Wolves lost out to the Golden State Warriors because of one of the most impressive front court blubber-ups you could ever hope to see outside of whenever it is that Hopkins takes on the Little Sisters Of The Poor's 7th grade C Squad.
Tonight against David Lee, Festus Ezeli, and Carl Landry, the Wolves' bigs got their doors blown off to the tune of a -16 on the boards and, at the end of the 3rd quarter, a 46-8 disadvantage in the paint. I didn't have heart to look at the media row stats monitor to find out what the end-of-the-game paint point disadvantage was.
Greg Stiemsma played 17 minutes and was apparently still recovering from one of the worst 5-minute stretches of pro ball in human history (against Charlotte). Lou Amundson missed another free throw to bring his career average up (yes, up) to .451. Derrick Williams constantly found himself out of position on the defensive glass. No Timberwolf over 6'9" could wrap their heads around the idea that David Lee likes to go to his left hand.
It was brutal.
Did I mention that there was a 46-8 point discrepancy with points in the paint at the end of the 3rd quarter?
To be fair, it wasn't just the bigs who were responsible for this crooked number. Luke Ridnour played one of the worst defensive games you could ever hope to see in the NBA. He looks absolutely gassed. He couldn't stay in front of anybody. Whenever Ridnour was on the court, the Warriors were able to pick whatever angle they wanted to get to the front of the rim. It didn't matter who Ridnour was guarding, his guy was getting into the lane and causing problems. Luke ended the game with a team worst -21. It got to such a bad point that Rick Adelman put the negative offensive threat Malcolm Lee back on the court in the 4th quarter because his terrible shooting was somehow better than Luke's terrible defense. It was that bad.
Pek! J.J.! Where are you?
Thankfully, no Wolves were injured tonight and nobody from the audience had to don a pair of short shorts and d-up Draymond Green.
The Wolves have been a nice early-season story but the injuries are about to catch up to them in a really, really bad way. They are playing a collection of 7th-12th men alongside of AK and opposing teams will catch up to the fact that, for instance, Dante Cunningham really likes the elbow jumper or that Alexy Shved jumps on every single f'ing pass he makes. Pek needs to get back ASAP, because while AK may be one of the league's very best players, he's not a Hero Ball type of guy. He's the type of guy who scores 19 points on 9 shots while getting 6 rebounds and 4 blocks. Ho-hum.
Side-topic: Let's pause for a moment to think of how awesome this team is going to be at full strength with Bud, Rubio, Love, and Pek next to AK. That's a perfectly complimentary 5. Guys like Ham or Shved will be put in their natural backup positions.
OK, I'm getting ahead of myself.
Random thoughts because it's sleepy time:
- Ref (#60) James Williams called a supremely shitty game. I have no idea how his calls played out with the final score, but Williams missed an obvious out-of-bounds call, several obvious shoves, and numerous minor transgressions that happened right in front of his nose. It was an all-around embarrassing performance and had the game gotten a little bit more out of hand in the middle of the 4th quarter, I'm pretty sure Adelman would have gone after him for a tech just to make a point.
- Derrick Williams seems to be most comfortable when his point guard sets him up with a mid range jump shot that requires no dribbles. Tonight, Williams was nailing no-dribble mid range jumpers when he did not hesitate with the ball. Everything else...not so much. Since Williams is probably going nowhere anytime soon, my best hope for Williams is that he improves when Rubio comes back simply for the fact that Ricky will get him a bunch of uncontested 15 footers. Beasley 2.0 has never been more in effect.
- Pek wore a sports coat with blue jeans and a big ass belt buckle. Is it wrong for me to want to see him punch someone just to see what happens? I'm pretty sure it would look like this.
- Side topic: Is Get A Life the greatest show in TV history? Is Cabin Boy the greatest movie in TV history?
- Shved is really crafty with the ball and he really has a great natural sense of how to get players the ball where they can do the most damage. For instance, Ham was nailing the hell out of the elbow jumper. Shved tried to do whatever he could to get him the ball at the elbow. Because, you know, it works. However, Shved also jumps before every pass and I'm pretty sure he's already grabbed the Marko/Kandiman club champion crown. Here's hoping he hits the weights and stops drinking and jump passing.
- Harrison Barnes had a nice night. He had a drive late in the game that caused a few "ooohs." He also ended up with 9 rebounds and only 1 TO. As a native Amesian, I want nothing more than to see him succeed. That being said, I need to see more. Hopefully it works out for the best.