Maybe not having anything to play for is what really cost the Wolves this time.
Over the past couple of weeks, 'Sota has rattled off some impressive....dare I say improbable....wins against the NBA's best. Miami's trying to get past Indiana? San Antonio's trying to fend off OKC? Houston's trying to keep homecourt advantage? Memphis is trying to just make the playoffs in the first place? Cool. Let's go be bad news
Oh hey, what is Sacramento playing for? Nothing..? Oh...........
The Kings are 28-53 on the year and have, since the issue of ownership/location first came up, started reaching a Wolvesian level of patheticism in management and on-court ineptitude. Blown draft picks. Terrible free agent choices. Negative value trades. Sound familiar?
Tonight, both Kevin Martin and Kevin Love returned to action, with wildly different results.
- Love: 43 points on 23 shots
- Martin: 0 points on 8 misses
The backcourt is what ultimately cost the Wolves this game. Ben McLemore and Isaiah Thomas combined for 33 points on 12-24 shooting. Rubio and Martin scored 2 points and missed all 12 of their FGAs.
You guys know I've been beating the usage conflict drum and well....in the last 5 games Martin missed, Rubio averaged 17ppg on 44% shooting. That's compared to his season averages of 9.5ppg on 38% shooting.
(At the end of the year I'll go through all the splits, but something quick to think about there for now)
On the plus side, Love showed no ill effects of the hyperextension in his elbow after inadvertently clotheslining Brewer in the Chicago game.
And on an even pluser side, Gorgui Dieng had another monster night, and arguably his best overall performance to date: 21 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks. He struggled in man defense against Cousins, but well, that's become normal for teams playing the Kings (DMC is averaging 30-12 in his last 5 games now)
Going back to March 16th, when he took over the starting center spot by necessity, Corgi has done nothing but impressed, averaging 12.4 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks. His PER for the season.....season, so this includes 4-1/2 months of 2 minute stints and garbage time....is 16.3 (league average is 15) and his WS/48 is .132 (average is .100)
He's skilled, he's smart, he's athletic, he has height and reach and compliments Love perfectly. He doesn't crowd his teammates, sets strong picks, moves the ball adeptly, has an uncanny knack for getting rebounding position and well....this team has been in dire need of a Gorgui Dieng for basically it's entire history (think of Gorgui + Garnett!!!! ZOMG) It's open for debate whether he should rotate in for Pek off the bench or simply outright succeed him as a starter, but the point is we actually have that choice to make. Lots of good players is better than not enough of them.
A lot of this we'll cover in depth after the season closer. Tonight, a lacksidasical loss, but in practical truth it really doesn't matter. We're not catching Memphis/Phoenix and Denver isn't catching us, so it's all just for pride at this point.