Well, I really wanted to be optimistic, but deep in the dark corners of my brain, I was very concerned about this game. I predicted a Timberwolves victory in the game preview, but if I was really honest with myself and listened closer to the voices in my head, I would have gone with a Pistons win.
After witnessing the second half of the Timberwolves game against the Cavaliers on Wednesday, I was convinced that Andre Drummond was going to have a field day with the Wolves’ interior defense. Aron Baynes might even chip in. Maybe, if we were really lucky, we would see a Boban Marjanovic cameo. The centers were definitely going to dominate.
It was the Pistons stretch 4’s, however, that repeatedly punched the Wolves in the Bobans. Minneapolis native and former Badger, Jon Leuer, started the night’s scoring with a three and refused to cease and desist through the rest of the evening.
As a fellow Madison alumni, I used our secret Badger ESP to ask him to stop, but he refused to answer the call. He finished the night with 24 points, hitting on four three-pointers, and shooting 8-16 from the field. I’m officially mad at Jon.
But it was first-team All-NBA power forward Marcus Morris that was the real dagger in the Timberwolves side tonight. You can’t blame the Wolves that much though. He is Marcus Morris, after all. Future Hall-of-Famer, perennial All Star, Marcus “Mook” Morris.
What’s that? I should double check on my Marcus Morris research? I don’t think so. All I need to do is watch the following clip on loop. You’re telling me that this guy isn’t a superstar?
Okay, I apologize. I got lost in the loop. Actually, it turns out that Morris isn’t the force of nature that he displayed this evening. In fact, his similarity scores put him in the same category as players like Jared Sullinger and Gary Trent. But on this night, Marcus gave Sullinger the finger on his way to setting a career-high in points. 36 points, five three-pointers, six boards, and a 63.2 field goal percentage crushed the Wolves comeback bids time and time again.
For the most part, Morris’ shots weren’t easy inside buckets either. He was hitting from the arc, from mid-range, and from the free-throw line. The Wolves interior defense on Morris and the rest of the Pistons was generally pretty good throughout the evening, Guarding the three-point line, however, was a general disaster zone.
Overall, the Pistons hit eleven three-pointers at a 43 percent clip as opposed to the Timberwolves five at 29 percent. One could attribute this to a hot shooting night for the Pistons but these were generally wide-open looks. Good passing and poor defense lead to barrage of makes for Morris, Leuer, and Tobias Harris.
While the interior defense held Andre Drummond to 12 points on 6-14 shooting, the rebounding numbers were not in the Timberwolves favor. For the season, the Wolves rank 11th in defensive rebounding percentage, while the Pistons are 17th in offensive rebounding. I’m not a stats guy but these numbers tell me that the Pistons should have been limited on second chance points. Unfortunately, this was not the case for much of the game. In the end, the hustle boards displayed 50 rebounds for Detroit (vs. 40 for Minnesota), with 18 of those coming off the offensive side. A boxing-out practice session should be in the Wolves itinerary in the near future.
For the Wolves, there were some positives but some very, very big negatives:
- Positives - 24 points and 11 boards.
- Negatives - Foul trouble early and often. Could not guard Leuer on the perimeter.
- Positives - 21 points, 5-5 from the stripe!!!
- Negatives - Ghost town for most of the game. Shot 8-20 and missed all three of his three-pointers.
- Positives - 16 points and two big three-pointers.
- Negatives - Nothing. A Unicorn can do no wrong (other than six turnovers, missing fast break layups, and being a little too aggressive on help defense)
- Positives - 20 points on 9-13 shooting. Looked to have recaptured some of his shooting touch after his leg injury at the end of December. Plus, this:
- Negatives - Another leg injury. A contested And-1 in the second half led to Lavine falling to the deck and grabbing his left leg. While he did attempt to play his way through it, he ultimately succumbed to the pain and headed to the locker room.
***Sneaky positive from this negative; potential Brandon Rush time***
In the end, the Wolves somehow managed to keep it close for the majority of the game. There were some positive contributions from the starters in addition to solid efforts from Belly, Baz, and Tyus off the bench. Despite small glimmers of hope that kept popping up throughout the fourth, the Wolves ultimately fell to the Morrises of Detroit, dropping their second game in a row.
During times like these, where thoughts of sports doubt and despair settle into the recesses of my brain, I turn to my friends for comfort. My friend Eric is living in New York and was jealous that I featured my friend Mark in a previous CH post. In a game of one-upmanship, Eric told me of his Thursday night in the Financial District of New York.
I was enjoying drinks in a small bar in FiDi with some friends after work. It was a really small place, but there was an incredibly tall man sitting at the bar. Turns out, it was Larry Bird, wanting a few drinks after a long day. Larry is a legend, with a beautiful shot, but he’s just as ugly in person as he is on tv. We talked with him for a while and he ended up paying our tab at the end of the night. My buddy asked for his card and Larry responded, “My card is a basketball,” and left the bar.
Larry Legend, just dropping the mic, and heading out to the streets of NYC. I’m not totally sure what “My card is a basketball” means, but it seems like an outstanding line all the same.
Thank you Eric and thank you Larry for getting me out of my Timberwolves related funk. Hopefully Zach is okay and the Wolves can right the ship tomorrow night against the Grindhouse.
Win Streak Count: Zero