The Sixty Million Dollar Man (Wolves 105, MAVERICKS 90)

After penning his name on a gigantic four-year contract extension (approximately $62 Million over 4 years, with player option after third year) Kevin Love went out and played a near-perfect game of basketball against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks.  Spearheading a dominant second half for his team (53-36) Love posted 31 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks without any of the disruptive, gimmicky tactics that I whined so much about the other night.  Love shot 6 treys and hit 4 of them, he played hard defense all over the floor (not his type of matchup when Yi draws him outside the paint) and provided the uber-efficient productivity that makes him special.  One game in, Love looks well-worth the dough.

Beating Dallas at its home court is a bit less (okay, WAY LESS) impressive when Dirk is on the sidelines with a knee injury.  The Mavs started this game with some red-hot shooting, particularly from Jasons Kidd and Terry, Yi Jianlian, and Rodrique Beaubois.  I wondered whether the Wolves (shorthanded themselves without Ridnour, Barea, Beasley, Webster, Miller, and Lee) would have enough legs to ramp up the defensive pressure and hang in this game.

They did.  Rubio in particular was relentless in attacking the defense, staving off defensive pressure, and constantly seeking out steal opportunities (4 times successfully) for 46 crucial minutes of point guard play.  Only for a short two-minute stint of Wayne at the point did Ricky get a breather.

My one problem with Rubio’s game (no, not his 7 turnovers; those are part of the package for this type of playmaker) is that he shot too much.  His jumper is quickly molding into its Euro League form, with his field goal percentage now plummeted to 38.6.  He shot 4 of 16 from the floor, tonight.  On too many possessions, Rubio’s first decision was to penetrate the lane and look for his own shot.  It wasn’t working for him tonight.  His overall efficiency (17 points on 16 shots) was partially saved by an ability to draw fouls (8-9 FT’s) that is second only to Love on this team.  Ricky stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points, 12 assists, 7 rebounds, and 4 steals.  Triple doubles are in this kid’s future.

A road win is a good win, especially with the Spurs and Lakers on the horizon.  Additional jottings:

* I lobbied for Anthony Randolph to take the center minutes from Darko and Pekovic.  Rick Adelman disagrees, obviously, because Randolph played 9 minutes tonight, while Darko and Pek combined for 44.  Darko had an efficient 8 points, 7 rebounds and a whopping 7 blocks in 24 minutes.  Pekovic shot 4 for 5, for 13 points and 7 rebounds in 20 minutes.  Randolph?  The only Wolf in the minus column (-5) with a 1 for 4 shooting night.  Perhaps Coach knows what he’s doing.

* Lamar Odom looks horrible.  He is notoriously inconsistent, but tonight looked cranky, out of shape, and not at all ready for an NBA basketball game.  As he has done throughout his career, he took the bait on jump shot opportunities, and put together a 2 for 14 shooting performance in just 16 minutes of action.  Mavs fans must miss them some Tyson Chandler.

* Solid game for Derrick Williams.  He is not a small forward–that much should be obvious by now–but on plays when Rubio was cycling the half court with the ball, D-Thrill found opportunities to dive in the paint.  He was rewarded with Rubio passes and easy hoops were had.  On one instance, it was Rubio-to-Williams-to-Darko without the ball touching the floor.  On another, Williams finished it off himself.  10 points (4-7 shooting), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 0 turnovers in 25 minutes is good work for a rookie playing out of position.

Season Record: 8-10

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9 responses to “The Sixty Million Dollar Man (Wolves 105, MAVERICKS 90)

  1. @Andy G: Nice recap. I got a bit distracted tonight watching Allen Iverson highlight videos on Youtube, so this filled in a few gaps. Overall, the thing that excites me most about this team is Derrick Williams’ (so far) UNTAPPED potential. They’ve got a beast among them whose name isn’t Love or Rubio, and when the beast comes out, this team could start cookin’. He does so many things no one else on the roster is capable of doing, and that’s going to help us throw a lot of different looks at defenses moving ahead (which we’ve already begun doing thanks to Rubio’s inventiveness, so imagine what it’ll look like when Thrill gets his feet under him.)

    Good stuff, and I’m glad we have Love locked up, and with the contract he signed.

    • Agreed re: Williams. Adelman seems pretty obsessed with playing to strengths. Therefore, I expect to see more sets for Williams on the block or in pick-and-roll situations. He’s a Barkley-like FREIGHT TRAIN (HYPERBOLE!) once he gets momentum to the hoop. Mass x Velocity = Power. Or Force. (Or something–been a while since I took a physics course.)

      • @Andy G: His *style* of body hunting reminds me of Wade’s circa ’05. Not saying it’s as effective, just that he flies at the hoop with unusual SPEED and FORCE and with no apparent regard for his SAFETY. He’ll start getting more fouls called and increase his efficiency just by getting more opportunities around the hoop. Plus, he’s got that jumper which has the potential to be pretty nice too. Very promising player.

        • Area of weakness I constantly harp on, and Jim Pete chimed in on it tonight: FREE THROWS.

          I would be more concerned, but he shot 74.6 percent last year in college at the stripe, and this was with a lot of volume (8.7 FTA/game).

  2. George N

    Awesome recap. So if Derrick Williams isn’t a 3 – where do you find minutes for him? Are the Wolves too undersized when Love moves to the 5? Is this viable long term? Imagine if Wes Johnson wasn’t complete garbage (and has already hit his ceiling) and there were some decent wings on the squad? Congrats on the Love signing. You agree with saving the 5th year option for Rubio? I have to admit that the Wolves, especially Rubio are fun to watch.

    • Thanks, George.
      Re: where to play Williams, I think Love plays too many minutes some nights (43 tonight, we’ll see how those legs look on Friday against the Spurs) and D-Thrill should play the 4 when Love isn’t on the floor. When opponents go small, or play a center with no post skills (seems to be more and more common) Love can defend 5’s and Williams can play post on offense. Rubio and Williams have great chemistry, and I’d like to see that combination developed further as the season goes on. I think Pat agrees with me on this, since we’ve discussed it a couple hundred times in this early season.