Yankees/Red Sox, Lakers/Celtics, Biggie/Pac, Miley Cyrus/Clothing, Timberwolves/Trailblazers. These are among the Great Rivalries of all time. Our band of heroic court soldiers squared off tonight against one of the greatest evils (by extension) known to Canis Hoopus - the team that is responsible for the asshat trolls from Blazers Edge.
There is no known source of origination for this feud, although legend has it the bad blood came to a boil following the trade that brought Martell Webster to Minnesota in the summer of 2010 - a trade in which Portland failed to mention that Webster was medically broken and also liked to dunk on wide open fast breaks when you're down 3 as time expires. Let's go ahead and relive that, because masochism is a Timberwolves tradition.
Minnesota retaliated by teasing Portland's Nic "Fisticuffs to Nuts" Batum with an inflated offer sheet in restricted free agency, forcing Portland to overpay a centerpiece to their roster, which could have significant cap room implications down the road. Finally, there is the never ending debate about who is the greater of the two small market All Star Forwards - Kevin Love or Lamarcus Aldridge? (hint: it's Love). Whether or not these factors have translated into an actual on-the-court rivalry that the players buy into is irrelevant, because it's more fun for us if there is one and I say IT'S ON.
Looking back - these two sworn enemy clubs first met this season on December 18th at Target Center, a game in which the Wolves absolutely ruined Portland's shit, leading for a significant portion of the game by 30 or more points. In that game, Kevin Love flirted with a triple double going for 29/15/9 while Pek added 30 points and 9 boards of his own. Portland's players cumulatively filled up the stat sheet with tears and realized inferiority. It was one of the shining moments of this season so far. Here, see for yourself:
We may or may not have played Portland again at some point since then, but I don't really care about that. Let's talk about tonight's game.
*Editors note. I had an earlier engagement to attend a dinner with friends, so I was forced to watch the recorded game later in the evening. This isn't really an important detail, except that it was a most excellent home prepared Persian themed dinner consisting of some delicious saffron rice, mint, feta, chicken kabobs, and herb roasted beef among other food I can't pronounce. It was good. I just thought you should know that. Moving on.
Things got off to a hot start for the Wolves, and by that I was immediately informed that Kevin Martin would not be playing due to a broken finger on his non-shooting hand. He is presumably out until after the All Star Break, joining the Pek who is in the same boat with foot bursitis. Love also would not play tonight as his body has been beaten like a circus monkey while he's tried to carry the team for the last two weeks. In summary, our top three scorers were wearing sport coats, and my overall interest in this game declined accoridngly. I initially sat down with a pen and paper to take notes so I could put together a thoughtful and informed report here, but I put the pen down and instead cracked a beer - a Rochefort 10, which meant I was checking out of serious town. Over the course of the game I cracked a few more beers including a Hen's Tooth English ale and some kind of Bavarian ale that I didn't bother reading the label when I bought it. Now that I am home, I have switched to an unnecessarily strong vodka cocktail. Here's the grades.
Minnesota Timberwolves - We had no business being in this game from the get go, so the fact that we stayed right with a fully healthy team with the 3rd best record in the conference is pretty impressive. It basically came down to the last couple of minutes, where Portland was able to hit a couple of daggers and get enough separation to win it. But nobody expected us to win, so I can't include victory in a realistic grading rubric. We tried real hard and almost embarassed a team we don't like. We also remained undefeated in the moral victories column. A+
Kevin Love - didn't play, but he's still our best player. Screw it. A+
Rick Adelman - the old man has been getting a lot of flak about his coaching efforts and questionable lineups during the last month or so. Adelman's an OG, and he keeps it real. Some people had gone so far as to say that his second hockey line unit rotation is the worst lineup ever, to which Slick Rick cooly responded tonight by saying voila bitches - Ricky/Corey/Bazz/HAM/Gorgs. I challenge anyone out there to track down a less offensively threatening lineup that has stepped on an NBA court this year. It was badass that Adelman would even consider that group a realistic option. Out-of-the-box thinking gets rewarded in my book. A+
Ricky Rubio - 25 points (career high), 9 assists, 1 steal, 8/19 shooting. He did what he could whilst having a particularly good hair day. A+
Corey Brewer - 26 points, 7 rebounds, 1 block. I like Corey and we enjoyed laughing at some his drives to the hoop, he's getting an A
Dante Cunningham - gets a double/double with 14 points and 10 boards. Also gets an A
Shabazz Effing Muhammad - There will no doubt someday be a 30 for 30 chronicling what we just witnessed. Bazz is all about two things and two things only - ballin' hard like a Gucci Mane video and exceeding expectations. Dude went off for a career high 12 points on 4/8 shooting. He should have had 15 points, but a layup and-1 was waved off a questionable offensive foul call. Based on a scale of absolutely zero expectations, Shabazz not only gets an A, but will start in the All Star game in place of Dwight Howard.
JJ Barea - 14 minutes, 1 of 7 shooting, I hate you. F
Gorgui Dieng - I dunno, you're pretty cool. B+
Robbie Hummel - Seem like a cool enough guy bro, but you're just something taking away my sweet, sweet Bazz minutes. Be gone with you. D-
Portland Trailblazers - You guys aren't as good as you think you are. Take a long hard look at the team that just almost beat you. You gave up 110 points to that group. That's a loss in my book. F
Lamarcus Aldridge - 26 points on 12/16 shooting, 9 boards, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 bloacks. Terrible, just terrible. F
Damian Lillard - you call yourself an All Star? 14 points on 30% shooting. You got outscored by Ricky Rubio. Think about that. You just got outscored by Corey Brewer. Think about that. I am going to go ahead and just assume you play like this every night. Ship this bum down to the D League. F
This was fun. Hope you agree with my objective evaluation.