The Art of Hanging in While Ahead: Wolves @ Blazers Report Card

I'm trying to think of a way to categorize this game and I'm not sure I can. The Wolves executed really well on offense in the first quarter (8-10 from three!), but did an average job on defense in the same period. They completely crapped the bed in the second quarter, especially to start. Don't you get more cautious after the second turnover in a minute? The third? The fifth? Beasley's lazy catch with his right arm fully extended for about three seconds, which led to the fifth Blazer steal in the second quarter, marked the last time we saw Beas, and for good reason. The Wolves outscored Portland in three out of four quarters, but that second quarter was so horrendous it seemed much closer than that. It was a fun game to watch--I think. There was more drama than tension, though.

General notes:

I've had a soft spot for Joel Przybilla, even though he left the Gophers on bad terms. I hoped at every stop that he'd find success. Not anymore. That flopping, teabagging douchebag needs to get truly pounded by Pek. Not in a "3 points, 6 rebounds, 5 fouls" sense, but in a "has to collect parts of his face from the sink in the visitor's locker room" sense.

The Portland announcers are among the worst we've had to endure this season. Beyond homers. They whine about missed calls on Blazers (and there were quite a few), but bitch about obvious calls on the Wolves (and there were more than a few. Pek was fouled at least six times on one play, and they only called one).

The refs tonight were ridiculous. I won't even say that they called the game in favor of the Blazers--they just didn't call fouls consistently. They called late fouls and they had weird calls from refs out of the action all night.

Okay--to the grades!

Kevin Love: A

He scored 42 points on 15 of 27 shots (7-8 from the line and 5-8 from 3). He grabbed 10 boards. He had four assists and a steal. He had ZERO TURNOVERS! All of this would suggest an A+ game. The only problem with Love's game is that his aggressiveness on the glass only came in spurts. He finished the first half with one rebound, and there were long stretches during which the Blazers controlled the boards at both ends of the court. Call it heightened expectations, but Love can do better than that, and should do better than that.

Luke Ridnour: A

He scored 11 points on 9 shots, which is decent but not outstanding. He had six rebounds and one assist to go with one turnover and three fouls. This was a really solid game for Luke, though. He only committed one Ridnover (in the third quarter) and he ran the team well while the ball was in his hands. Heady play by our veteran PG.

Wesley Johnson: B

There were only two Wested Possessions this game, and they resulted in successful three-point shots. So Wes kept those possessions from being Westful. That's the good part. The bad part is that he only played 9 minutes because he committed 4 PFs (at least one of which was questionable--a late whistle on the game's third possession that resulted in Gerald Wallace taking free throws), all in the first half. Still, his effort was valiant, and he had that hustle block in the second quarter. Not a bad game.

Ricky Rubio: C+

Ten assists in the first quarter! Four turnovers in the second quarter! What the hell? Ricky finishes with 6 points, 12 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and 4 TOs. What a bizarre game. Still, he was on the floor for 36 minutes and controlled the game well for the most part. He frightened the Blazers defense on a few occasions with his drives into the paint. He didn't frighten them tonight with his outside shooting (1-8 from the floor. Phew!).

Nikola Pekovic: C+

PEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKK! A modest line for the Balkan Bulldozer tonight. Nine points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block, and 4 TOs (though one of those was a pass Barea delivered to his ankles in traffic). His biggest contribution of the night was in defending LaMarcus Aldridge most of the time. LMA wanted to back Pek down but couldn't. He tried to spin past Pek, but he couldn't get around him. He wound up passing out of the single team at the elbow several times. Still, a quiet night for my boy.

Two new Pek quotes tonight, though:

Bulldozer ballet! - PhatG77


Pek pirouette! - Dogpile

Martell Webster: A+

Twenty-one points and 8 rebounds in 34 minutes. How is this guy not our starting small forward? Or shooting guard? He'd be an upgrade at either, even discounting tonight's great performance. He even threw in two blocks and a steal. He gets the song of the night. (Because his hair reminds me of Dug Pinnick's, and because Martell was playing over his head tonight.) Also, the lone good line from the Portland announcers: "He [Martell] put his beard on top of his head!" (In a conversation about how beardy the Wolves are.)

Michael Beasley: F

Six points, 1 rebound, 1 turnover, and 3 PFs in 13 minutes. He was playing like shit even before he got stripped on a dumb play in the second quarter. He made some nifty moves to score in traffic, but otherwise his was an awful game. We got bad Beas tonight.

Jose Juan Barea: C+

Similar line, statistically, to Beasley, but a better game. Both shot 3-5 for 6 points. JJ had 2 turnovers to Beasley's 1. He also committed no fouls and contributed two assists. Not a good game, but it shows the fine line between a terrible game and a mostly average one. Also, he got chesty with Przybilla with his bullshit walkover of Rubio. Good for sticking up for your teammate. You just went from a C- to a C+.

Derrick Williams: A

The kid came out to play tonight. Fifteen points and 4 rebounds, and he made all of his free throws! His barking at Gerald Wallace cost him a tech, but if he was saying what 1922 thought he was, it was both justified and awesome.

Anthony Randolph: Incomplete

Anthony Tolliver: Incomplete

Brad Miller: Incomplete

Darko Milicic: Incomplete

Rick Adelman: B

He started Wes. Again. Hopefully tonight is enough to get Martell a try at the starting three. Adelman went to the zone for a bit and it hurt, but most of his decisions on the night worked well. It seemed like the best way to go would be to keep Pek on LMA in the fourth quarter, since he'd kept him quiet all night, but putting C-Lion in there worked out just fine. We pulled away during that stretch. Overall, the game was managed fairly well. Timely time outs and decent substitutions.

Doing this report card (and the Assignment Sheet earlier) was fun. I'll gladly do this again. I did miss the banter in the game thread. I'll have to go read the rest of that now. This was a good win over a good (if confused) team. Have a great night, everyone, and be well.

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