Who knew that it would take a Ryan Hollins punch-to-suspension extreme basketball move for the Wolves to run out something approaching a functional lineup? At the very least, the forced subtraction of the team's worst player from the starting lineup made for an entertaining contest. Let's throw out some random thoughts about the game:
- While Kurt Rambis managed to play Kevin Love above 25 minutes, and while he essentially ran with a 3 big lineup, he still found a way to give the Nuggets 3 minutes of court time in the late 3rd with neither Kevin Love or Al Jefferson on the court. To nobody's surprise, the Nuggets took advantage of this situation with a 9-0 run where they took the lead and never looked back. There is no excuse for something like this to happen. Zero. One of your two best players needs to be on the court at all times. Period.
- 8-27, 8-24, and 9-21. This is what the Wolves went from the floor in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th quarters. They were able to keep with the Nugs in the 1st and 4th quarters because they managed 19 FTAs between the 2 quarters. They only attempted 2 FTAs in the 3rd and that's when their ship was sunk. Poor shooting teams need to get to the line. It's not rocket science.
- It's also not rocket science as to why the Wolves hardly drew any trips to the line in the 3rd. Here's a quick run down of some of the team's shots during the quarter: Brewer 20 foot jumper, Darko hook shot, Gomes 19 foot jumper, Flynn 21 foot jumper, Gomes 20 foot jumper, Flynn 25 foot jumper, Jefferson 11 foot shot, Love 23 foot jumper, Flynn 14 foot jumper, Al 12 foot jumper, Gomes 16 foot jumper, Gomes 25 foot jumper, Ellington 19 foot jumper, Brewer 22 foot jumper, Brewer 45 foot shot. 15 of the team's 24 shots in the quarter were from outside 10 feet. Only 4 of them (3 not counting Brewer's heave at the end of the quarter) were from beyond the arc. That's a lot of low-reward mid-range jumpers. That's a lot of not attacking the paint and/or taking advantage of the extra point you get when you step out beyond the 3 point line. Garbage. Absolute garbage. Conversely, the Nuggets took 8 3 pointers during the quarter while getting to the line 7 times. Only 5 of their shots in the quarter were from no-man's land. Leave the mid-range jumpers to Flip Saunders' dinosaur 1/2 court offense. Free throws and three pointers fellas, free throws and three pointers. 10-23 feet is your enemy and you went 14-41 (.341) from there last night while going 21-49 (.429) from everywhere else.
- There were only 19 turnovers in the entire game. Very nice to see.
- The Wolves held the league's best FTA team to 3 FTAs below their average while getting 10 more than they usually get on their own. Despite this, and despite turning the ball over less than their season average, they still lost because they couldn't find a way to attack the paint and reduce the number of mid range jumpers that any team from the JCRC to the EuroLeague would be more than happy to let them have.
That does it for today folks. It was an entertaining game marred by awful, no-good, terrible, mid-range action. Just say no to the mid-range jump shot.