Mile Low (NUGGETS 103 , Wolves 101)

Tonight was a weird, weird, game. The play was rough and sloppy. The Wolves lost in OT.

A few things:

  • Great out of bounds play late in OT – notwithstanding Love’s moving screen – but Luke missed the layup to send the game to 2OT. Gulp.
  • Pek got hurt. So did Lawson. This changed everything. You don’t realize how these guys shape the game until they’re gone.
  • Corey Brewer got a tech. Andre Miller got ejected. WTF?
  • It turned into a grudge match for a long while between Kevin Love and …Kenneth Faried….and this was actually pretty interesting. Faried didn’t back down. He will be a player.
  • Beasley and Barea played to their weaknesses. Beasley slightly less so than Barea. But both underwhelmed. If anyone is (should be) playing his way out of the rotation, it’s Barea.
  • Al Harrington looked like the second coming of, well, Al Harrington. That includes all the goods and the bads. Cap’n Jack, if you’re out there, you know exactly what I mean.
  • Martell sucks. He’s missing the threes he was brought here to make. (But to his credit, he forced a huge turnover by Harrington in #winningtime.) Can we get a decent wing?
  • Is Love becoming a volume scorer? Or just being keyed upon by opposing defenses? Is this an insult, however, unintentional? How do we adjust if Pek is out for a few games? Or longer?

It was as gloomy as it sounds. I guess this is what you’re gonna get when both teams are on the second night of a back-to-back preceded by a very emotional game.

Until next time.

(Season record: 16-17)

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19 Comments

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19 responses to “Mile Low (NUGGETS 103 , Wolves 101)

  1. I was only able to catch the 1st Quarter and OT on TV, and the 2nd Quarter and end of 4th Quarter on radio. In overtime, the thing that stuck out was that the Wolves were doing my least favorite thing that they do: seek out poor matchups, and make drawing fouls a higher priority than scoring. Ricky did this. Love did this. It never worked, unless the end goal was to get overwhelmingly-pissed off at the refs and distracted from the game. It used to be cliche’ to say that the NBA is a 4th Quarter game, you need a go-to guy, etc. Now, it’s even-more cliche’ to say exactly the opposite. In any case, the Wolves DO NOT have a go-to guy, and it’s apparent in games like this one and other close losses (Toronto, Atlanta…) This isn’t me saying Beasley should be that guy–he may not be good enough–probably isn’t. But it is me saying that Rubio + Love + Pekovic + “competent wings” is not a contender. Better wings will make the team better. A *great* wing might make it a contender.

    Then again, Ricky’s in his first year. Maybe his overall offensive impact will someday reach Nash-ian level and I’ll rethink this.

    I feel bad for Webster. He made a great steal and lost his focus as he approached the three-line. Two facts about this: 1) He should know the score coming out of a timeout, especially when the steal is the goal; 2) It’s easy to sit on the couch at home and second-guess snap decisions. I do it all the time on this blog too, but let’s not get too carried away about one bad decision. He’s hustling, trying to make a play and screwed up. End of story. Many of his teammates made mistakes in overtime that helped lose this game.

    • @Andy G: Agree on the wing player hyperbole. The question is, how good does that wing player have to be? Would Kevin Martin be enough? Iguoudala? Joe Johnson?

      • I guess we can just play a game of “Would the Wolves be a contender with ____?”

        LeBron – Yes
        Durant – Yes
        D-Wade – Yes
        Kobe – Yes
        Melo – Probably
        Ginobili (if healthy) – Probably
        J. Johnson – Maybe
        K. Martin – No
        Iggy – No
        Deng – No
        Gay – No
        Ellis – No
        Gordon – No
        Allen – No
        NICK YOUNG – Just kidding

        Did I miss anybody? Any of those you disagree with? Not saying I don’t want those “No” players–just sayin’ that their addition would not transform this team from .500ish into a title-contending team. The core of this team has limitations, even if it’s better than the wings.

        • My changes to your list:
          K. Martin – Maybe
          Iggy – Maybe
          Gay – Maybe
          Allen – Maybe

          Here are others you missed (if we let combo guards into the discussion, and why not?):
          Westbrook – Yes
          Parker – Maybe
          Granger – Maybe
          Josh Childress – Just kidding

          Looks like I’m a bit more lenient with the “Maybe” grades. It probably boils down to how we define “contender.”

          • I’d define it as a 55-win team in the West. (Assuming a full season.) How’s that?

            I don’t think any of those guys you list there would catapult the Wolves to that status, but maybe I’m wrong. Of the group, I’d be most likely to accept Iggy as a “Maybe” just because his defensive impact would be huge. I think the rest take the Wolves from a little below .500 to a little above .500. Again, I’d like to improve the team, I just think these games where the team is incapable of generating offense in the most crucial points of a game show a real defiiciency shared by all of the players.

            • My main quibble would be with Westbrook (assuming you’re counting him there). He’s a tier one star, 5th in the league in scoring, lock-down defender, good buddy of K-Love, etc, etc. I think if you add Westbrook to our existing core, you have a 55-win team and a title contender on your hands, just like OKC has.

              I think you get a lot more wins, too, if you add Martin to this squad, but that’s more of a gut feeling based on fit than anything else.

              • You’ve been reading too much @sportsguy33 — Westbrook ain’t a shooting guard. Pair him with Rubio and what prevents defenses from sagging in the lane all night (I mean, other than the defensive three seconds rule)?

                Westbrook’s the man — as a point guard.

          • Speaking of ways to improve the roster, do you think it’d be better to clear a bunch of CAP SPACE in a deal involving Derrick Williams (something like the one we kicked around for Kevin Garnett, a while back) and pursue a free agent (Eric Gordon?), or just straight up trade Derrick Williams and whatever else (not Rubio or Love; probably not Pek) for a wing player that we want for the long term?

            • @Andy G: The ends justify the means, so I’d do whichever has the highest probability of netting us that player whom we need. The elephant in the room is whether David Kahn can correctly estimate which probability is higher. I suspect–but don’t know–that the straight-up-trade scenario would give us the best chance because then the potential acquisition would have less leverage to say “no.” So, I’d probably opt for a trade if a chance arises to improve our roster.

                • I read murmurs about this last night. Would they want a deal with Williams and Beasley for Gasol? We’d still have NO scoring punch at the three, and an awkward situation with Gasol/Love/Pekovic.

                  • I really admire Beasley for having the courage and desire to alter his game under the guidance of the new Coaching staff . This is a young man who has, up until now, gone with his natural instincts…massive peaks, desperately low troughs….since he returned from injury he has applied himself and tried to contribute in areas other than scoring…his game is a bit more balanced. He is in a process of reconstruction and I’d hate to see the Twolves lose patience with him as he’s the reason I ended up supporting this crazy team in the first place…but if they have lost patience and the Lakers want him then it’ll be an excellent move for him…and I’ll continue to follow his progress with interest.

                    • @Kevin: I’m fully with you. Beasley, for his first time as a Wolves player, is passing the ball in the flow of the offense. Even he looks surprised. What I wish is that they’d just start him at the three and give him ALL of the minutes that have been split between him, Wes, Martell, et al. Let him see what he can do. What we learned when Love was out is that Derrick Williams most definitely IS NOT a 3. At this point, Beasley’s body is probably better suited to the 3 than the 4. And I think he’s beginning to respond to the challenge defensively. Adelman clearly has little-to-no trust in him and we can only speculate as to why, but it’s obvious from what happens on the floor that even when Beasley isn’t playing good ball, he’s a better option than the others we can trot out at SF.

                    • Apropos our conversation, Howlin’ Twolf has written up an interesting argument on the Beasley-to-the-Lakers rumors: http://www.howlintwolf.com/2012/02/lakers-eyeing-beasley/

  2. Another point that bears further emphasis from last night’s game is what a beast Kenneth Faried was: his 14 boards were huge, and I’m not sure I’ve seen our bigs as intimidated by a non-D12 player since The Ivan Johnson Incident. Faried was a great pick at #22. I wish he would’ve dropped to the Wolves at #23, but failing that, I wish Kahn would’ve kept Nikola Mirotić at #23. He can atone for this mistake if he manages to get this monster onto the roster at a reasonable price: http://www.euroleague.net/competition/players/showplayer?pcode=JEA

  3. Eric in Madison

    Jumping into the fray…

    I’m not sure I buy Andy’s original comment about “go to players” and what it would take for this team to be a “contender.” Look, this team has close games and wins some (um…Philly 2 nights ago) and loses some because they are more or less an average team. With better players, they would be a better team. Clearly, their major weakness is on the wing. That needs improvement.

    I’m not even thinking really about being a “contender” if what you mean by that is being one of the top 4 teams in the league. Andy might be right on his list (though I might quibble with a few), but what’s the point? The guys he noted as being transformative are not available. Given that, you still have to proceed. You still have to try to get the best players you can.

    Frankly, I doubt if they can even get hold of one of the 2nd tier guys like Martin or Batum without giving up one of the pieces than nobody wants to give up. But they have to try. What’s the alternative?

    As for not having a go to player, well, I dunno. Kevin Love has made 2 last second, game winning plays this year that stand out. I don’t buy that that’s why they lost last night; they lost because nobody could make a shot, and because their transition defense was for large stretches terrible. It wasn’t because they couldn’t get shots late; they got shots. Ridnour’s layup, Webster’s missed wide open corner 3(s). They just didn’t make them.

    I have been comparing the Wolves to the Rockets since they have played so many times recently. Here you have 2 teams that are probably about equal in quality, but different in structure. The Wolves are better at the top, but weaker in the middle of the roster. The Rox are pretty good everywhere, but not great anywhere. For the Wolves the problem is: what tradeable pieces do they have that other teams might want? The Rox have the opposite problem: they have guys other teams might want, but what can they get that’s better? Which is the easier problem to solve?

    That aside, I’m not that upset about last night. It was similar (though even uglier) to the Philly game. Close and ugly. Sometimes you lose. If they want to win more, get better. It’s not about “go-to” this or that.

    • Good points, maybe I overreacted, especially since I missed much of the game.

      As far as roster moves go, it seems like a Derrick Williams trade (and maybe Michael Beasley, if report is true that Lakers have interest) makes sense. Either get a player directly via trade (Monta Ellis?) or clear out contracts so a successful pursuit of Nic Batum or Eric Gordon can be made in restricted free agency. I don’t think I’m being too hopeful or optimistic that the Wolves can add a quality wing without ditching Rubio or Love. Getting to the points about “go-go guys” I’d prefer somebody more like Gordon who is more dynamic than efficient. In my opinion, the offense needs somebody in addition to what Rubio does to get the defense shifting and open up better scoring opportunities. As awesome as Kevin Love is, the one area where he is limited is in creating high-percentage shots (for himself or others) that aren’t free throws. There needs to be a regular, functioning offense, with Love’s free-throw generating being an added luxury.