Let me start by summarizing the goals for the Timberwolves in tonight's game:
1. Limit dribble penetration by the Toronto guards
2. Run the potent Toronto 3 point offense off the line.
3. Take advantage off the Raptors tendency to foul.
4. Dominate in the post.
5. Be aggressive on D and capitalize on the steals we get.
In grading our players, I'm going to use one of the few skills I possess as a CH regular. Since my skills as a intelligent commenter on actual basketball are meager, I'm going to associate a tune with each Timberwolf player in addition to their grade. I'm doing this in part because I've been spending inordinate amounts of time recently organizing and cleaning up duplicates in my musical library, and almost zero time actually listening to or posting any of it. I'm also doing it because I can...
I'll list the songs as well as post the videos, so that those who have such links turned off can decide whether they wish to devote bandwidth and time to them.
On to the grades! On the 5 team grades, I would say the Wolves get a B on the first point, an F on the second, a D on the third, a B on the fourth, and a C+ on the fifth.
For individual grades, I'll start with JJ Barea. This song seems appropriate for him: Little Big Baby- Reverend Horton Heat.
For JJ's 5 points and -6 +/-, he earned a D- tonight.
Let's be alphabetical, shall we? Corey Brewer's song is this one: John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers w/ Eric Clapton- Steppin' Out.
Corey's 10? points and very disruptive defense(and offense) with a +/- of +11 earn him an A.
Chase Budinger didn't see many minutes tonight, but he does have this great song going for him: Neil Young- Powderfinger.
Sadly, his 3 points and +/- of +1 will only earn him a C-.
Dante Cunningham played more minutes with poorer results. His song may reflect that: James Booker- Doing The Hambone.
Dante had miserable -14 tonight and only the fact that he's not JJ earns him a D.
Since Gorgui didn't play, we're on to KLove and this fine tune: Ain't Going To Give Up On Love- Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Love just missed his triple double, but that in no way should take anything away from his 26/11/9 stellar performance. Too bad A+ is the highest grade we have; he deserves better.
Kevin Martin had a good shooting night and this song seems right for him: Rainbow-Gene Chandler.
KMart's minus +/- at -7 detracts from an otherwise pretty good performance, I'll grade him at B-.
Prince Luc only played 3 nondescript minutes, but there is a song for him as well: Two Princes- Spin Doctors.
Luc earned a D+ tonight, as his defense barely offset his awful ball possession.
Shabazz had an overall positive game and I have this song for him, from the soundtrack for the "Rookie": Slow Turning- John Hiatt.
It, no doubt, helped Shabazz's night that Toronto defended him with Steve Novak, but 6 points and a +3 earn him a C+ anyway.
Nicola Pekovic should have an entire album devoted to him, but I came up with this song and it will have to do: Imelda May-Big, Bad, Handsome Man.
Pek, in still limited minutes, shredded the Toronto post players most of the time despite having a -6. His 17 points and 11 boards earn an A-.
Ricky had a somewhat uneven night, but he's awesome so this song is for him: Walkin' Spanish- Tom Waits.
Ricky sported a +1 on 8 points and 7 assists and even more than playing his heart out, he kept JJ off the floor much of the night. That kind of effort earns an A+.
There was an actual Shved sighting tonight at the Target Center! This song is for you Alexey: Jackie Mitto- From Russia With Love.
In his short minutes, Alexey had no pass-backs or ill-advised shots and though he had no actual points, he was an improvement on JJ so he earns a C.
You know, it's not fair to leave out Dieng just because RA did; this one's for you Gorgui: 3 Blocks From Groove Street- Yo La Tengo.
AJ has to have a song as well: The Price- Solomon Burke.
So that's it, another hard fought contest where pesky, physical defense and great 3 point shooting have sunk our hopes for any hint of playoff dreams. Another Flynning game; thankfully it ended early enough to slake my sorrows with a Little Sumpin'. Tip one for the team, boys!
As for Toronto's grades: Novak earns MPE despite being a great 3 point shooter, their entire team gets an award for grabbing, shoving, and otherwise playing Eastern Conference "defense", and Lowry, DeRozan, and Ross are just damn good players overall. I still somewhat enjoy seeing Coach Casey do well also.