The Timberwolves were...well....decent in this one.
Not great. Not fantastic. But they played competent basketball and...except for a two minute span bookended by a ridiculous Andrew Bynum Flagrant 2 foul and Kobe and Martell both going down on an and-1....were pretty entertaining.
The standout player of the night was, of course, Wes Johnson. He was something else in this one, making shots from all over the floor and playing some genuinely fantastic defense. It was encouraging to see him make use of some handles, rudimentary as they were, clearing space from defenders and taking advantage of a few mismatch situations. And for the second game in a row, he out-dueled Kobe Bryant. In the four games the Wolves and Lakers have gone at it this year, Bryant has averaged 24 points on just 37% shooting, and has committed more turnovers than assists. Tonight it was pretty obvious Wes' long arms and moving feet were getting to the Mamba, as he blocked or altered a few shots and stripped Bryant of the ball several times. Wes has had a number of good games since the all star break...two of them against LAL...so here's hoping he's finally getting things together for good.
Other than that, the Wolves were pretty solid all around. They shot 44%, finally finding the bottom of the hoop while genuinely attacking the defense rather than getting lucky, posted a respectable assist/TO ratio, and didn't let the Lakers go lights-out in the scoring column.Luke Ridnour had a really good ball game as well, setting the tone early with a bunch of hustle plays and picked pockets, and keeping the offense flowing throughout.
In the end, the Wolves just got "out-bigged", ultimately. Where was Anthony Randolph? I mean, isn't this what we got him for? Pau Gasol shot a masterful 12-17 en route to 25 points, and Andrew Bynum...before getting himself suspended for LA's tilt with Portland Sunday...crashed the glass with a purpose. He had as many offensive rebounds as Darko and Pekovic had total rebounds combined (and/or fouls combined...) DarPeko plays 48 minutes and gets the team maybe 30-35 minutes worth of production. You could probably get that from Randolph alone in half the actual playing time. #freeAnthonyRandolph
Anyway, it is above the norm for this team, but I'm not complaining. It's nice to have a game like this that's just entertaining to watch, and not think about the "what if's". Even if it's just for one night. Hopefully Beasley's OK. It's too bad what happened, because he was having one of his best games all year up to that point. Hopefully Wes will keep playing at a high level. Hopefully Randolph will make it off the bench more than 15 times by the end of the year. Next up at the Sacramento Kings...possibly soon the be the Anaheim Royals....but who currently trail the Wolves by a single win in the standings. Draft implications. Yipee.