Stomping the Rockets (WOLVES 100, Rockets 91)

I wasn’t going to post a game wrap, but with the Wolves off tomorrow night (next game Tuesday at home versus Sacramento) I thought we should have something up to acknowledge some events of Saturday Night, and to continue the ongoing discussion of all things Wolves as the season moves into its second trimester.

.500

Minnesota has, finally, reached the elusive distinction of having won exactly one half of its games.  At 12-12, the Wolves have hit .500 for the first time since Kevin Garnett donned the blue and green, in 2007.  In case you forgot, Dwayne Casey had Ricky Buckets and Company at 20-20 before being fired.  Randy Wittman replaced him, closing out that season by going 12-30.  Yikes.  Decidedly-average pro basketball never felt so good.  The road of improvement continues ahead.

The Stomp

As I’m sure you’ve already seen or read about, Kevin Love stomped on Luis Scola’s face, last night.  Footage here.  Although no announcement (that I read, at least) was made today, I’d guess he’ll be suspended.  Love was apologetic after the game, without admitting any ill intent.  Scola was classy in his interview, deflecting all stomp questions away as if it was no big deal.  These kinds of things happen, and the Wolves are usually on the receiving end (Wally kicked in face by Bowen, Jaric slapped in face by Kobe, Beasley jacked up by Bynum, list goes on…) rather than dishing out cheap shots.  My griping at the time had more to do with how he was playing immediately before the stomp.  It was more of the begging for a bailout stuff that irks me as a fan.  He actually got away with at least two obvious fouls (both against Scola, one offensive, one defensive) but seemed to be getting really upset that calls weren’t actually being made in his favor.  Love can play a really clean game of great basketball when he wants (and did so for large parts of this one–he was great in this win) but sometimes resorts to this bush league crap that is annoying to watch.

Miller Looking Back Door

Brad Miller threw 4 backdoor passes in 6 minutes of action.  He was whipping them off the catch without regard for anything.  Think this guy has played for Carrill Adelman before?  Coach has spoken recently about wanting to get his offense installed to lessen the burden on Rubio’s pick-and-roll sets.  Perhaps Miller has been assigned to expedite this process.  On one backdoor attempt that ended in a turnover, Beasley cut out instead of toward the hoop.  Miller looked upset, letting him know that an easy scoring opportunity was wasted.  If this team can add Princeton halfcourt offense to Everything Else Rubio… whoa.

The Rotation

If you remove Brad Miller and his six minutes of tick, Adelman’s Saturday rotation was of nine players; the number he has pointed out as being ideal.  The heavy lifters appear to be Rubio, Ridnour, Love and Pekovic.  Middle guys are Barea, Beasley, Webster, and Wes.  D-Thrill is a limited reserve.  Randolph is in street clothes, and Ellington and Tolliver don’t take off their sweats.

Bullets:

* J.J. was pretty awesome in this game with his one-man circus routine of buzzing around the halfcourt and eventually fooling five defenders into allowing him an open layup.

* Patrick Patterson will play many years in the league with that mid-range jumper he’s already mastered.

* Luke bounced back quickly from an ugly performance at New Jersey.  4-6 from downtown and 22 points. There are 10 or so minutes in each game that he and Barea will always fight for.

* Big Pek followed up his career night with an efficient 11 points and 9 rebounds with only 1 turnover.  If he becomes as consistent as he already is powerful, popular and cool, we’ve got ourselves a legitimate starter of an NBA center.

* Kevin Martin shot the ball horribly in this game.  He was 1 for 10 with 2 points in 31 minutes.  Basically, the exact opposite of his last Target Center performance.  Perhaps the non-Ellington defense (I can’t recall if it was Luke or Wes) was a factor.  This, as much as anything, explains the victory.

Season Record: 12-12

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Stomping the Rockets (WOLVES 100, Rockets 91)

  1. @Andy G: For my money, the last bullet is the most important takeaway from the game. I know guys can and do have “on” and “off” nights, but the swing for Martin from the previous game to Saturday night’s is about as dramatic as you can get. He’s exactly the kind of player who typically kills the Wolves–especially this year, given our deficiency at the two. Did Adelman make an astute adjustment to stifle Martin? Or did Johnson finally show some pride and play better defense? Or was K-Mart just cold that night? I’m still not entirely sure which are true.

  2. Jose Cordoba

    A few thoughts

    1. I think the Martin thing is a Combo of Defensive Adjustments and Luck. Someone would be silly to think it was purely coaching that led to the difference in Final Performances between Morrow on Friday and Martin and Saturday. If Jimeer goes 10-10 from Deep on Tuesday (We’ll Probably in Trouble)

    2. One theme I didn’t care for on the Game Thread on Canis Hoopus was this idea that Chandler Parsons was going to kill Luke Ridnour at the 2. While I don’t doubt this is a mismatch-it seems Parsons is exactly the type of guy you’d want a lot of the other team’s offense going through.

    3. Big Week with a possibility of going 3-1 ahead.

    • Jose-

      Good points and thanks for chiming in. Luke’s shooting has been a significant, and perhaps underappreciated aspect of the Wolves’ early-season turnaround.

      As far as the upcoming schedule, I’d like to know if Love will be playing in it… maybe “no news is good news” but I’d expect a news story on espn.com, either way regarding suspension/fine/etc.

      • @Andy G: I don’t think the NBA will suspend Love, but if it does, what do Adelman’s rotations look like? I’d start Williams and let Beasley back up both forward positions (assuming Rick isn’t going to budge on starting Johnson at the 3). Let Williams get some confidence knowing he’s going to be playing at least 30 minutes a game for a couple games, and see what he does with it.

    • @Jose Cordoba: Good points. I’d guess some defensive adjustments plus luck or some other unobserved factor or factors (e.g., cold/flu, hangover, off-court distraction, etc) probably underlay Martin’s bad night. Regardless, the reversal from the first game to the second is pretty stunning.

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