Good morning, and welcome to the Therapy couch, live from downtown Minneapolis. Last night's game had its ups and downs, and certainly wasn't the best played game of all time, but it was pretty fun live. Here are my thoughts, plus your usual news and notes.
- It was really, really great to see Justin Hamilton back on the floor for some action last night. He had four points and four rebounds in nine minutes (mostly) during the third quarter, and brought some different energy to the team than Gorgui Dieng did (more on that later). While the scrutiny over the severity of the team's injuries has been a clear topic of discussion over the last couple of weeks, Hamilton's caution in returning from concussion symptoms is wise, and I'm glad both he and the team have taken every necessary precaution to manage that.
- I hope that Lorenzo Brown is still on the team next year. He brings many of the same qualities as Ricky Rubio to the backup point guard spot: movement around the floor, looking for passing lanes, pesky defense. Now obviously, he's not Ricky and isn't likely to ever be close, but he is what he appears to be: a pretty solid backup point guard. He also was apparently the only Wolf who remembered how to rebound last night, leading the team with 9 boards (no one else had more than 6). Lineups with Brown and Zach LaVine have a respectable 4.9 Net Rating in 249 minutes, which is good to keep an eye on.
- Gorgui Dieng had one of his worst games in a while. Only 3 rebounds over his 33 minutes, 10 points, and a whopping six turnovers, including a couple of his trademark bad travels in the post (which were infectious, even Andrew Wiggins had one). While it's probably just fatigue from all of the minutes he's played, G's clearly about done for the year, and needs to do something about it. Adreian Payne also put up a pretty uninspiring line, although he had two good buckets to pull the Wolves within a possession early in the fourth quarter, and his looks from 3 were open shots that just didn't fall. The defense, though...ehhhhh.
- On the bright side, let's talk about probably the Wolves' best player last night: Chase Budinger. Yes, Wiggins had another sterling effort with his 27 and big buckets late. But Chase almost singlehandedly kept the Wolves in the game, and it felt like he was hitting every shot he took. Chase finished the game with 22 points on 9/14 shooting (3/6 from 3), 6 rebounds (3 offensive), a steal, a block, and an assist. He hit the 3 with 8 seconds left to tie the game and send it to overtime. He also dunked, and not only did he dunk, he dunked allllllll over Robert Sacre. I was there, it actually did happen. I was so confused. Chase did the things that make him successful these days: stay out of foul trouble playing the 4, find open shots at 3, make strong cuts to the rim, and fight for offensive rebounds and putbacks. I like this Chase.
- The end of the game was what it was. The home crowd had not been overly enthused with Bennettt Salvatore's calls the whole night, and that sure didn't stop with Zach LaVine's foul with 0.3 seconds to go in overtime. Was it a foul? Almost definitely, yes. Is that the sort of thing that's usually called in that situation? Not really. Was Andrew Wiggins fouled on the inbounds play to end the game? Also probably. Was it called? Nope. That was the most glaring example of one call versus another, but there were a few. I was pretty unconvinced by about three of Lorenzo Brown's five fouls, at least one of which looked like a pretty clean steal. As usual, Wiggins got into the post and didn't seem to draw many calls. But, there's a certain c'est la vie to the Lakers increasing the odds of losing their pick to the 76ers, so I'm not going to be furious. I will be interested to see the league's correction report on this game today.
I'll try to add my usual selection of links and reading later this afternoon on my journey back to Missouri, but my hotel checkout time is in five minutes so I should probably stop typing and move. One big, notable note with last night's result: The 76ers did in fact win last night, which extends the Wolves' lead for the second best lottery odds to 1.5 games. The Knicks got pulverized by the Clippers, so they're probably safe (63-33 at halftime?!). The Lakers now only have a 1.5 game lead on the Magic, but have three games in hand, so they will probably be okay. Loved the Twin Cities, and I hope I'll be back sooner than later. Now, how did last night's game make you feeeeel? Therapy out.