First off, I’d like to apologize for the delay in getting this up and how incredibly long it is. I would edit it down, but that would just further delay my posting it, so you get one Canis Point from me if you read the whole thing anyways.
The Wolves get a wire-to-wire win tonight 109-99 against the Lakers in a game that never really felt in doubt after a hot first quarter. This win brings them back to .500 and is their first win at home against the Lakers since '07.
It is hard to get too excited about the win, as this was a game that absolutely had to be won against a completely beat up Lakers team starting nearly 40 year old Steve Nash in his first game back.
Following in GWST11's footsteps, I am going to start off with (what I intend to be a brief) recap of the game done in sort of a stream of consciousness format (pardon the run-ons, I know how much it is going to bother you Jason)
We started off blistering hot this game, with the Kevins scoring the first 14 points for us on the back of two 3's from Martin.
Our perimeter D was so-so early on but Turiaf was protecting the rim like it was his baby. He had 2 blocks and by my count at least 5 significant shot contests that forced altered shots.
Rubio was a wizard all quarter, he was all passing during his 10 minute stint, racking up 8 assists and even *passing* on multiple open jumpers much to the dismay of JPete.
The injury bug bit early with both Jodie Meeks and Jordan Hill leaving the game in the first quarter. Meeks landed on Brewers foot after a jumper and Hill got hit in the head by Chris Kaman while coming down with a rebound.
In an interesting play, Kaman threw up an alley-oop haphazardly that no one on his team even attempted to go after, yet the ball almost went in off the backboard.
The score at the end of the quarter was 38-26. The Lakers gave up open shot after open shot and for once we were hitting them. Reminding us what good teams can look like.
Adelman goes with an all-bench lineup to start the 2nd, using Bud, Luc, JJ, Dieng and Cunningham. They look completely lost on offense initially, but surprisingly are able to continue bullying the Lakers on the glass. At one point in the quarter the Wolves were leading the rebounding battle 23-9!
JJ does a decent job of running the offense finding both Bud and Cunningham a number of open jumpers, ballooning the lead as high as 25 against what is looking like a completely overwhelmed Lakers squad.
Dieng leaves the game due to being clocked in the face courtesy of Wes. It is not pretty as he apparently stumbled into the hoop on the way to the locker room. It is likely he sustained a concussion. He never returned.
Even the Lakers announcers get in on the Love first half double double talk, making me wonder if it is league mandated.
After a weak move on the perimeter by Brewer, the Lakers end the half with an and-1 in transition, continuing our legacy of not knowing at all what to do at the end of quarters.
The score was 68-52 at the end of the half.
The good guys start the quarter in a real rut. Lakers were able to push the pace in transition off of the seemingly endless amount of missed jumpers by us.
After a very strong first quarter, Martin keeps shooting and keeps missing as we resign ourselves to iso play after iso play.
Lakers close the gap to 8 after back to back offensive fouls by us.
Apparently Steve Blake is also playing with a ruptured ear drum. Did the Lakers get our medical staff? This is crazy at this point.
Love hits a big 3 to push the lead back to 12 and stop the downward spiral.
Halfway through the quarter Love had attempted almost as many FT's as the Lakers.
The game slowed to a crawl here with FT's on what felt like almost every possession.
Out of nowhere Martin exploded for 6 points, hitting an off-balance jumper, a fast break score off a steal by Love and then a nice low-post move.
The quarter ends with the score 89-78 and in a miraculous turn of events we didn't even give up points to end the quarter!
The Lakers hit two 3's early in the quarter to narrow the gap to 7.
Love hit the ground hard and is looking dazed. Adelman let us run an offensive set and then give up a 3 before calling a timeout to get Love a break. Why can't we have nice things?!
Adelman amazingly left Love in the game, which I think it is a horrible idea given that we have another game tomorrow.
6 minutes into the quarter, all of our scoring had come from JJ and Kevin Martin. Almost every possession at this juncture was a Barea wild drive or a high post iso by Martin.
Adelman actually brings Rubio back in with 6 minutes left. We did it Canis! I give us all the credit for fixing this injustice.
Throughout the second half the Wolves really struggled from the line, ending the game at 27-38. This included multiple 0-2 trips to the line.
Love again hit the ground hard on a drive, staying down for at least 30 seconds but continues to stay in the game. Afterwards, he was clutching his back while playing, I can't believe Adelman continued to leave him in. I'll be interested to hear what y'all have to say about that.
It takes until 4:10 left in the quarter before someone other than JJ and Martin scores for us.
The Lakers are never able to mount much of a comeback, as the lead hovers around 10 the rest of the way and the Lakers jumpers stop falling.
With about a minute left, Brewer does his best D Will impression and completely clanks a breakaway dunk. He's all smiles afterwards.
I wanted to give a quick shout-out to Manny Harris who posted 8-11 shooting and 8 boards from the point guard position off of the bench.
I was surprised to see no minutes from Shved. Was he injured or did Adelman just decide not to play him at all?
I continue to love Adelman's baseline out-of-bounds plays, as I counted 3 wide open jumpers right off the inbounds this game.
The schadenfreude is palpable for me every time Wes flynn's up another play.
Why did Wes keep ending up guarding Love?
I am grading everyone on an absolute scale, rather than relative to their usual performance in order to actually judge their impact on the game.
Everyone's scores are going to be kind of inflated given who they were playing against, but considering how negative this site has been the last few days, I think a bit of optimism is warranted.
Kevin Love (A) - 41 minutes, 8-19 shooting, 13-18 FT, 17 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 1 Steal, 1 Block, 3 Turnovers, 31 Points
I think all of us take Kevin Love's incredible play a bit for granted as he puts up this incredible numbers day in and day out but I want to take a second to remember that a 31-17 game would be a career highlight for anyone else on this team. What he is able to do is just incredible and he easily gets an A for this performance. He did a bit of everything tonight, including his trademark outlet passes. Love also busted out his fadeaway bankshot again in the first quarter, which looks to be a pretty consistent shot for him that is very hard to guard. I was quite impressed with Love's defensive performance tonight. On top of his 14 defensive rebounds he showed a lot of hustle on closeouts early on and made a big impact with help D off the weakside in the 4th quarter, forcing Wes into 2 key misses. In the 2nd quarter Love had a beautiful up and under where he split 2 Lakers players with tons of contact and got the soft finish. Although he struggled at times from the line, this is splitting hairs as the Lakers just couldn't keep him away from the charity stripe. I could go on all night about how he does everything, but you get the point.
Corey Brewer (C) - 31 minutes, 5-10 shooting, 0-2 FT, 1 Rebound, 1 Assist, 3 Steals, 2 Turnovers, 11 Points
I didn't have too many positive notes tonight about Brewer as he was mostly a nonfactor on both sides of the court. His stat line is reminiscent of good ol' Wes' games where you forgot he even played. Brewer got a few leakout baskets, managed to blow a wide open dunk and got pumped faked into at least one shooting foul (I think two). He left me shaking my head at an attempted entry pass that traveled about 7 feet yet ended up about 3 feet the wrong way and went right into a Lakers hands. He made it clear that he has no idea how to handle the ball, getting trapped near midcourt once and performing a move a ballerina would be impressed by at the 3 point line to take a horribly off balance 3 that didn't even touch the rim at the end of the 2nd quarter. He did get 3 steals, but I was left pretty unimpressed with his performance against such mediocre players tonight.
Ronny Turiaf (B) - 22 minutes, 1-1 shooting, 0-2 FT, 5 Rebounds, 2 Blocks, 1 Turnover, 2 Points
Ronny had an electric first quarter with almost every Lakers drive being redirected and hindered by him. As noted above, he had 2 blocks (both of which he kept inbounds and helped start a fast break) and made life very hard on the Lakers as we jumped out to our early lead. After that he seemingly disappeared as I didn't notice almost anything he did the rest of the way. He isn't able to create anything at all offensively, but he has been acceptable at finishing off passes from Rubio. Overall, despite the invisible performance after the 1st, his rim protection was such a sight for sore eyes that I'm giving him a B.
Ricky Rubio (B) - 31 minutes, 1-4 shooting, 2-2 FT, 6 Rebounds, 13 Assists, 1 Steal, 2 Turnovers, 4 Points
Rubio is both the most fun player to watch on the team and the most frustrating. He didn't put his first points on the board until the game was effectively over, and he just doesn't have the strength to fight through screens effectively. He refuses to take wide open shots in the rhythm in the offense, yet decides to pull up for off-the-dribble jumpers that barely catch rim. Yet, despite all of that, he is a whirling dervish on defense, collected 6 rebounds and posted a gorgeous 13:2 assist:turnover ratio. The scoring simply has to improve for him to maximize his potential and his current shooting mechanics simply can't carry him there, but he brought a lot more positives than negatives tonight and Adelman even let him play during the 4th! I'd also like to just mention how much I love Rubio being an absolute pest on inbounds plays after a made basket by us. When the opponent's least expect it, he flashes to the ball and knocks it out of bounds or steals it and this is a play that I hardly ever see any other PG attempt. Just another way he gives us little advantages.
Kevin Martin (B) - 41 minutes, 13-26 shooting, 2-3 FT, 3 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 1 Steal, 1 Turnover, 32 Points
It is really nice to have another player who is a threat to score 30 points on the team to take a bit of the burden off of Love's shoulders. Martin was electric early on as he hit his first two 3's and didn't show any of the hesitation before launching his shot that I have been noticing the last few weeks from him. He had a number of good possessions in the post where he was able to get enough contact for a foul but still be able to put up a good shot or create enough space for a warmup jumper. Early 3rd quarter he jacked up a number of ugly misses in a row that were just iso plays and helped let the Lakers back into it with lackluster defense as well. Then he went on another tear, scoring 6 straight points in succession and boosting our lead back up and hitting enough jumpers down the stretch to keep us ahead. Early in the game Martin was absolutely killing the Lakers off pindowns, doing an expert job reading how his man was playing him off of them and flaring out or cutting to the hoop as indicated. Interesting I stopped seeing almost any pindowns set for him in the second half as almost all of his touches just came in the high post.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (C+) - 18 minutes, 1-5 shooting, 2-2 FT, 3 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 1 Turnover, 4 Points
I was surprised to see Luc enter the game in the 2nd quarter and he immediately grabbed a nice offensive board and had a strong putback. I don't understand why Adelman played him 18 minutes today, yet doesn't have him touch the floor sometimes. He was relatively unimpressive tonight, not hitting any shots after that putback, not rebounding strongly and not registering any steals. I failed to notice how well he was doing on defense, so I'll have to leave his defensive grade to the comments. I hope to see a lot more of him, because he has been better than advertised cutting to the rim and rebounding on top of his solid D, but tonight was not his best game.
Dante Cunningham (B-) - 24 minutes, 2-7 shooting, 1-2 FT, 9 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 1 Block, 1 Turnover, 5 Points
Both of his makes came off his patented 18 foot jumper. I had 3 separate notes regarding how horrible he is at dribbling and trying to create anything at all. At one point he takes a dribble or two off of a pass and tries a floater and it doesn't even catch rim. With his extended minutes he was able to grab a number of rebounds in traffic though and got burned less than usual on defense. At one point JPete tried to convince me that Cunningham has been great the last few weeks and that he is doing a lot more than just shooting midrange jumpers........ Nah. I think he gets way too many minutes compared to Luc, but tonight he didn't do anything to hinder oru chances of winning.
Chase Budinger (B) - 7 minutes, 2-2 shooting, 0 FT, 3 Rebounds, 1 Turnover, 5 Points
I didn't catch why he never re-entered the game after his second quarter stint, but Bud showed a bit more rhythm in his shot and nailed both a jumper and a nice runner in the lane as well as showing decent hops for one of his rebounds. Here's to hoping his legs are getting back to full strength and that he will up his contributions soon. He did just about all that I expect of him and helped our second unit push the lead early on.
Gorgui Dieng (B+) - 8 minutes, 1-1 shooting, 2-2 FT, 3 Rebounds, 2 Steals, 1 Block, 4 Points
Dieng played what JPete called "easily his best game as a pro basketball player" during his 8 minutes on the floor. He followed in Turiaf's footsteps shutting down the everything the Lakers brought into the lane, notching 2 steals while looking pretty competent on offense. He looked a lot more mobile than I remembered, covering lots of floor and staying very active. He still picked up 2 fouls in his short time on the floor, but this is something that Pek has proven can be drastically improved. He left the game, likely due to a concussion which was very disappointing given how well he was playing at the time.
JJ Barea (B-) - 17 minutes, 3-8 shooting, 5-5 FT, 3 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 1 Turnover, 11 Points
Everyone's favorite punching bag had a pretty typical game by his standards. He had a couple of very impressive drives to the rim finished by athletic layups and he had a number of possessions where he pounded the air out of the ball and either threw it out of bounds, got blocked or jacked up an ugly shot. At this point it is clear that he is who he is, but with how limited our 2nd unit is at creating offense (and given the fact that Adelman seems to insist on playing most of our reserves together), we really need JJ to keep doing his thing and try to just limit the turnovers. He did just enough to keep our lead safe when he played in the 3rd/4th so I am willing to give him a passing grade despite his maddening defense and ill-advised shots. The most typical play of his tonight was in the 2nd when he dribbled down the length of the court in transition somewhat off-balance and out of control and then as soon as he got to the baseline and had nowhere to go with it, just threw it in Dieng's general direction.
All in all, we played a decent, but relatively unexciting game. We beat a team far below us talent wise as we needed to. I'm trying not to get too caught up in our odds of making the playoffs or what it means for our long-term future. Instead, I'm trying to enjoy the magic that Rubio and Love bring to the court every game and just have fun watching us, for better or worse. In that regard, tonight was definitely a victory.
Thanks for taking the time to read this!