Adelman looks like this way too much. He's absolutely dismayed.
I have to say that this game turned out to be MUCH more of a scare than I ever thought it would be. I've had he the chance to watch Denver a couple times recently and they've been struggling to say the least. The Nuggets are not the same team without Lawson at the point, as evidence by the game versus the Nets the other night which was nowhere near the 112-89 final. I must admit though, when they've been healthy, the Nuggets are a pretty entertaining team and was putting up wins much more regularly early this season.
The Wolves have been hot on the road, with this win making it 4-1 on this trip, which feels pretty good despite a couple mediocre teams in the mix. It sure makes that Portland collapse that much more painful, but I'll take the 4 out of 5 any day. It's been nice to have guys back healthy (too bad Ronny isn't back too) and especially to have the bench contribute on a fairly consistent basis. Well, on to the game and some grades!
First off, the point total for Denver is disappointing not just because the Wolves gave up 128, or because they gave up 45 in the final quarter, or because they allowed Denver to hit the last 42 3-pointers of the game (it may have been only 41), but because they seemed to play good team defense for stretches. Particularly in the first half, there was lots of moving feet, hands in passing lanes, and contesting shots. It was nice though to see the Wolves put up 132 and to have a pretty balanced attack overall. And 52 of 64 from the free throw line! That is amazing especially since we already are 3rd in the league with 28 FTA per game. And shooting it at 80% tonight didn't hurt either. Overall, I thought it was a pretty entertaining game to watch, and it needed to be because I was watching on mute sitting as still as possibly with our 4 month old sleeping!
Before I get to the Wolves, here's a couple grades for our foes as they made it an exciting evening.
Randy Foye (42 mins, 22 pts, 3 ast, 4 reb, +4)
I've had several games this year where I watched Foye and thought, I wish he played for us again. Turns out I don't want that and that his stretches of brilliance probably look similar to his stretches of brilliance (and subsequent stretches of disappointment) when he was a wolf. Remember when he went toe-to-toe with Dwayne Wade? Classic teaser.
Ty Lawson (40 mins, 31 pts, 4 stl, 11 ast, 4 reb, +8)
Lawson's energy seems only equaled by Corey Brewer on the court. He plays hard and pushes the ball constantly. He seems to give Ricky fits when we play them and I thought the game was in trouble early when he got Ricky two quick fouls. I was surprised to see he's shooting the three ball worse this year than any all other years but still remains pretty damn efficient.
Kenneth Faried (32 mins, 21 pts, 1 blk, 3 stl, 8 reb, +15)
The Manimal is something to watch and I thought Love held his own much better tonight than he has in the past. Faried still had a big impact on the game and seems to have a ton of energy of his own. Who wouldn't want to play with a guy like that?
Wilson Chandler (38 mins, 25 pts, 1 stl, 2 ast, 10 reb +8)
I'm not overly impressed in general with Chandler but he was part of the 3-point barrage at the end of the game which brought this one too close. I remember liking him more before his injury a couple years back, which isn't really based on anything except a vague memory about a vague feeling, so you're welcome for that.
On to the Wolves.
Alexey Shved (DNP-CD) Incomplete
Can't say I disagree with not giving Shved some run tonight with the way others were playing. I do wonder what goes on in practice to get people in and out of Adelman's good graces. This is totally a game where I can see Shved losing his mind and launching 3s that make us all scratch our heads.
A.J. Price (DNP-CD) Incomplete
Not surprised by this but would've liked the blowout which brings our very own victory cigar onto the court.
Luc Mbah a Moute (5 mins, 0 pts, 1 ast, + 1) C
Not bad but not great for the prince. Tough matchups for him I imagine with as small as Denver likes to play. And honestly Dante has been hard to take out lately.
Shabazz Muhammad (12 mins, 7 pts, 1 stl, 3 reb, +9) B+
Bazz didn't shoot the ball well but got himself to the line 6 times. Nice to see him not settling and staying aggressive. He seemed pretty active to me, which I imagine will help him stay on the court. Nothing drives me more crazy than standing around like Beasley on D or without the ball on O.
Gorgui Dieng (4 mins, 6 pts, 1 stl, 1 reb, +5) A
What's not to like? I was disappointed to not see Gorgui in the 2nd half. Looked like we had a good thing going with finding him rolling to the basket. Maybe Adelman didn't like the matchup or preferred Pek in for longer stretches, but I for one am hoping Gorgui continues to get some time.
Chase Budinger (13 mins, 2 pts, 1 stl, 3 reb, +17) B
I'm not sure how he ended up with the game high +17 but he did seem to have a positive impact on the game. His shot didn't look great, but he didn't hurt us. I think some night that's just fine for Chase.
Dante Cunningham (25 mins, 9 pts, 1 stl, 2 ast, 4 reb, +/- 0) B
I could take games like this from Dante. He was active, shot the ball alright, and was setting screens or setting up action. I find it hard to comment on his game, probably because it's pretty simple and pretty consistent. Not bad things.
JJ Barea (26 mins, 16 pts, 1 stl, 5 ast, 2 reb, -2) B+
I think I'm giving JJ a break because I feel bad for hating him so much this year. But he does deserve it, the hate I mean. Tonight was a pretty good version of good JJ and if we can have stretches like this from him, our bench has a chance to contribute. I almost shit my pants watching him set up others moving towards the rim and he didn't even launch many 3 pointers after dribbling around for 22 seconds. I love it when he doesn't do that too much. More of this JJ please.
Ricky Rubio (26 mins, 5 pts, 1 stl, 5 ast, 5 reb, -6) C
Ricky wasn't really that effective to me this game, but we didn't really need him to be either. The ball was moving well without him and Martin and JJ did well to handle the ball when he wasn't in there. I did like him being in the game to close it out, though that didn't seem to help the raining of 3s that took place. Is it seriously that hard to force people inside the 3 point line?
Kevin Martin (31 mins, 22 pts, 2 ast, 2 reb, -1) B
Martin didn't shoot the ball well at all tonight, but 16/17 at the line will help out any stat line. His ability to get fouled was key to him being a mostly positive impact on the game. I also thought he did alright to stay in front of his man on defense for much of the first half.
Nikola Pekovic (24 mins, 16 pts, 1 ast, 9 reb, +9) B+
I thought Pek looked pretty good overall. To me he is best when he gets low post position and then takes his time to make his move. He seemed to do that tonight instead of rushing to get the shot off. I still can't believe how agile he is for how big he is. He never looks right in a basketball jersey. Just weird. Like you put a jersey on a random guy lifting at the gym.
Corey Brewer (36 mins, 16 pts, 2 stl, 1 ast, 2 reb, -5) B
Corey can run...and run...and run. I know he smiles a lot but I think he's struck a balance between the goofy, 'I just screwed up, coach' look, and the one where's he's genuinely taking his game seriously. I love that he is the smallest (in weight, I think) on the floor, yet goes at the rim with reckless abandon. That was my favorite part of "We Believe" Warriors team. They tried to dunk the ball more than any other team I've ever watched. Gotta love that.
Kevin Love (38 mins, 33 pts, 2 stl, 4 ast, 19 reb, -3) A
Love had another in an amazing stretch of excellent basketball. He has been so much of the reason the Wolves have had the success on this road trip they've had. His passing is getting so good that teams are off balance in a way that reminds of Steve Nash (that might be a bit far). But they are respecting his passing and it's giving him more space to work. He's seeing the basket cuts much better as well. This was one of those "boring" 33 and 19 nights for Love. Didn't overwhelm the game with dominance, but nobody could stop him either. I know there is all the talk of him leaving, but it sure is nice to watch him play a multi-skilled, hard-working type of basketball at least for the time being. Just awesome all around.
I really wanted this to be a funnier post than it turned out to be. I gotta sign up for one early on a Sunday or something as my brain is crap at midnight on a Monday! I'd like to thank the good folks that always contribute to this site whether in the comments, game wraps, fanposts or front page material. I don't get a chance to comment as much as I'd like, but I enjoy reading it every day and it's nice to join with other like-minded Wolves fans. Come on win #31!!