We were all surprised and elated to see Kevin Love in the lineup moments prior to the game, and with the addition of JJ Barea and Nikola Pekovic, it seemed like the Wolves were headed for a win. But it was simply not enough for the wolves this game. It felt good when KLove had double digits in the first quarter and the Wolves built up a lead of 17 at one point, but the defense faltered in the second half and Denver came back to win the game, outscoring the Pups 57 - 36 in the second half.
Some scattered thoughts:
Zebras: Turrible, on both ends. 3 Ts, with only 1 that was probably deserved (on Love, of course). Missed hacks on fastbreaks, a "travel" on Shved, a massive foul on AK's 3, a horrible flop from Gallinari, the JJ/Lawson back and forth. The Zebras didn't decide this game one way or the other, but they didn't make it very enjoyable to watch.
Team Defense: Adelman's defensive strategy will not work on a good slash-and-dish team. We closed out in the lane and they dished for open threes. it was horrible.
Team Offense: Not bad, but for yet another game we got to the line and couldn't capitalize. When the Nuggs put together their run, we didn't have enough options on offense to respond.
Ridnour: Can't defend. He needs to do whatever he can to get into shape. Shouldn't have played in the 4th quarter. Only 1 Ridnover I think.
Lee: Some probably felt Lee played too much this game, but there was no possible way that Shved could've guarded Igoudala. That is a matchup that we are never going to win. In the end, Leezy's offense was pretty bad but I think it's better than the alternative. Had a really nice pass in the first quarter.
AK: A sloppy game from him, but it looked like he was getting hacked a bunch too. Needs to be assertive on offense and not try to be too crafty with passes.
Love: Kevin Love is 90% back. He missed an uncharacteristic amount of free throws and some of the 3s were a bit excessive, but other than that he gives us what we needed: Offense. Rebounding.
Pekovic: A quiet night from the big guy. Rim defended twice, was beat on oops and inside passes a couple times too. Where did he go in the second half? Hope his ankle wasn't hurting.
Jose Juan: The lil guy played great tonight, so glad to have him back. 4-7 from downtown, he never really made it inside. Had 1 Ridnover.
Panda: Hit a couple 3s, but like I said above - mismatched. Got lost on some rotations too.
Howard: not as bad as I thought, he hit a 3 and had a couple hustle plays.
DC: Didn't go crazy, but did the hustle things that we've all come to expect from him. Played well in his role off the bench.
Steamer/Lou: Not. Good.
Lion: In a surprise to no one, Kevin Love's return meant the return of Caged Lion, with the only DNP-CD for the Wolves. It seemed like at points we could've
All in all, while we would've loved to have Love smoke the Nuggs tonight it's clear that Adelman will continue to tinker with both the offense and defense till he finds things that work. The JJ/Ridnour backcourt combo ultimately flopped, as did extended minutes of small ball with Love and DC on the floor at the same time, but at this point in the season, it's ok to experiment a bit, especially as many of the guys haven't even practiced together (and won't have time with an upcoming road trip). That said, one has to wonder why RA kept the starters out so long in the fourth quarter against a potential playoff rival. Le sigh.