Temper City (WOLVES 95, Clippers 94)

“These technical fouls are starting to… have an actual impact on the score.”

My comment after Luke Ridnour hit a technical free throw to increase the Wolves lead to 91-85 with 2:21 to go.  He had just fouled Blake Griffin on a breakaway attempt, which was met with an overreaction from Blake that warranted the tech.  A moment earlier (3:17 to go) Kenyon Martin was T’d up while his teammate Chris Paul was shooting free throws.  That little outburst allowed the Wolves to retain a 5-point lead at 88-83.  Eventually, the Wolves would win this game by a single point.  The entire outcome of the game was decided by a pair of late-game technicals.

K-Love for MVP?

K-Love put together a gem performance tonight against buddy and rival, Blake Griffin.  Love scored 39 points on 13-25 shooting (5-10 on 3’s–keep em coming!) and also pulled down 17 rebounds (7 offensive) and dished out 2 assists.  Of course, Twitter blew up with a mix of sarcastic jabs at Blake Griffin, preemptive strikes at “Kevin Love haters” and quips about how he is, indeed, a late-game scorer.  I’m less concerned about kneejerk reactions (do these people seriously not remember what Blake did to Love at Staples, last week?) than I am with the 5 for 10 shooting on 3’s.  Love can be so, so amazing when he bombs from outside.  His one-on-one scoring, a game here or there notwithstanding, is not a recipe for success at the highest levels.  It doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea on a .500 or worse team–particularly on nights when Ricky/Wes/Martell combine for 2-15 shooting (!!!)–but his iso scoring is not of a nature that a) works consistently against good defense; or b) draws even a sniff of a second defender.  I’m happy he’s starting to embrace the perimeter jumpshooting.  That is, without a doubt, his ticket to MVP conversations.  Unbelievable performance tonight.

Wes & Martell

There was some buzz before the game about Wes Johnson’s recent shooting success.  He had apparently been shooting something like 50 percent from the floor over his past 5 games.  He was excited about this.  Martell had just come off a 21-point, 8-rebound performance where he looked eerily-similar to a starting-caliber NBA wing.  In this game, Wes reverted back to his worst.  He floated aimlessly around the perimeter, never seeking out real scoring opportunities.  When the ball would (perhaps inadvertently) come his way, he’d feel the need to shoot–if nothing else just to see a number go up in his box score line.  He’d hoist up something off balance, barely drawing iron.  Once his confidence was sufficiently shattered, he would then hesitate on should-be catch-and-shoots, put the ball on the floor, and then take a bad shot instead of the good one he could have launched a moment earlier.  Martell was nonexistent in this game except in the game’s biggest moment.  With a 5-point lead and 30 seconds to go, he threw the ball to Chris Paul and immediately bonus-fouled him for good measure.  That blunder nearly cost the Wolves the game.  Not a good night for the long-and-athletic wings.

Scoring Bursts

Derrick Williams had 14 points in the 2nd Quarter.  Michael Beasley had 9 points in the first 6 minutes of the 4th Quarter.  Those rapid bursts of scoring output were key to building and maintaining a lead over the Clips.  Of course, it also didn’t hurt that Darko made 6 of 7 shots in Nikola Pekovic’s absense (foot injury).  For whatever reason, Darko has the Clippers’ number.

Ricky, and the Elephant in the Room

It pains me to say this:

Ricky’s shooting has officially become a problem.  In his last 5 games, he’s hitting 18.4 percent of shots from the floor.  He’s airballing wide-open threes, calling into question whether Target Center has a Meadowlands-like jet stream coming in from Section 136.  Seriously, I don’t think I can overstate how horrible his jumpshot looks and I say this as a HUGE Rubio fan.  Am I overreacting?  He isn’t just missing by 5 or 6 feet sometimes, but he’s attempting RIDICULOUSLY difficult shots, often with ample time left on the 24-second clock.  Maybe it’s a rookie wall.  Or something.  I’ll try not to think about it.  He still delivers awesome passes and makes heady defensive plays.  He’s the team’s best point guard.  But I can’t in good conscience make favorable comparisons to guys like Irving and Lawson when he shoots like this.  Shooting matters, no matter what sort of magic he creates for others.

Great win and fun game.

Season Record: 20-19

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Temper City (WOLVES 95, Clippers 94)

  1. I think Ricky has hit the rookie wall. The quick games and 66 games is much longer than what he’s used to in the Euro League. He was playing something under 20 minutes a game the last year.

    What do you think of the Wolves going after Jamal Crawford?

    • Crawford doesn’t really excite me, but he’s an upgrade over the current situation. The one would would be that he’d disrupt the offensive chemistry, but that would imply that there is a noticeable degree of offensive chemistry on this team. I’m not sure that there really is — with the exception of sequences of Rubio-to-shooters action, a lot of the Wolves offensive success is built around struggles for rebounds and drawing fouls. I don’t know that Jamal’s iso-style hurts that much.

      Eric and I discussed this earlier over at Canis, but some of it comes down to what the cost is. I assume D-Williams is out the door if a “big name” wing comes through that door; somebody like Monta Ellis or Eric Gordon. But maybe a guy like Crawford could help and not cost the team very much. That’s something I’d be okay with I suppose.

  2. Eric in Madison

    I don’t think it’s a wall, at least in terms of fatigue (though there is probably some fatigue, like everyone in the NBA).

    He was terrific defensively tonight. Controlling Chris Paul is one of the hardest jobs in the NBA. I think he’s a poor shooter.

    It’s funny; even with Beasley’s moment of..what?…making a couple of shots, this might have been the most depressed I’ve ever been by his play. He looked barely awake out there. It was painful.

    Williams making 3s is nice, but he can’t totally fall in love with it. Gotta get to the rim some too.

    Johnson is utterly unwatchable.

    • Agreed on Beasley — I tweeted that he “looked relaxed” when he first entered the game, obviously meant pejoratively. It shocked me that Rick had him out there in the 4th Quarter and yet, it sort of worked out when he buried a few shots in a short sequence. I assume he’s outta here soon.

  3. Re-reading it, that game wrap has kind of a negative tone.

    I actually really enjoyed this game. Love was awesome and the sequences where Darko, Williams, and Beasley made shots were a lot of fun. Also, the Clippers have an angry edge to them that made it a little extra satisfying to see them lose in a choking manner.

    I guess that’s why there’s a comments section.

    • @Andy G: For some reason the game left me in a foul mood as well–rare after any win and almost inexplicable after our third W against #lobcity. Some of it is that I still fail to see the rationale for some of Rick’s rotations. Most is because of wing play.

      @A Shah: If we trade for a wing, I hope we go bigger than Crawford. An upgrade over Webster? Sure. An impact player in a playoff run? Doubtful at best. Which means we’ll be in the same market next year if we trade for him.

      • “Most is because of wing play.”

        That’s gotta be it. I was just starting to delude myself into thinking that Wes was turning a corner–even if only slightly–and then he puts together an amazingly-bad performance that looked just like most of his games from this season. Martell didn’t do much either, although he does get involved on the defensive glass in a way that I think makes a small difference.

      • Eric in Madison

        I wonder if that last 30 seconds didn’t leave a poor taste in everyone’s mouth. This was a game that the Wolves were generally in control of the whole way, especially after establishing a lead in the 3rd quarter. LAC is good, you don’t expect to just cruise, but the Wolves were in control. LAC never got all the way back. 5 point lead and the ball with 30 seconds left, and they played that 30 seconds about as poorly as they could. The Martell TO and foul, the Barea possession, the open Paul/Williams foul.

        Frankly, they have played end games very well this year (it seems to me), but this one was terrible. Had Martell not turned it over, the Clips would have fouled, and the Wolves probably would have cruised to the buzzer. Turning it into a nail-biter that felt like a lucky escape makes it less palatable.

        As for Crawford…eh. If its trading Ridnour for less than half a season of Crawford, I’m not loving it. Ridnour is useful, and still has a reasonable contract going forward that’s an asset. I duuno, it seems like a neutral move at best. Crawford obviously has more size, and higher usage, but isn’t as efficient as Ridnour. Not sure it really helps. Do better.

        • EiM , I think you are spot on here. The last 30 seconds showed indecisiveness which isn’t an Adelman trade mark . I assume he took Michael Beasley (who did score 9 points in the 4th) out so that he could have the slightly more “savvy” ( or is that slightly less “un-savvy” ) Webster on the floor in crunch time…it very nearly backfired…I think there are moments where Adelman still looks down the bench and goes..”ehm…..ehmm….ehmmm….jeez!”. The Twolves had this one in the bag…contrary to what some Clippers fans think.

          The Twolves do have a dazzling array of players who are consistently inconsistent….Martell, Bease, Barea, Randolph, Darko…we know who the consistent players are ( Wes is one of them – think about that for a second!)…it must be a lottery for Adelman every night.

          I love Luke Ridnour. He’s a team guy. Every team needs a Luke Ridnour.

  4. Dave A.

    I watch today’s college and pro games with great envy. Because of the three point shot and shot clock, the game belongs mostly to the players and not the coaches. In the “good old days” when I played and coached, two people could be guarding you – your opponent and your own coach. If your coach liked lots of control, roles would be designated – who can shoot, when to shoot, and from where. The situation didn’t exactly build a shooter’s confidence. Some coaches screwed up more talent than they helped. Today’s college and pro games allows players to play. Rubio’s glass is half full. He makes three throws and will make field goals. He’ll drive, make layups, and get the ball on the rim creating the potential for tip ins. Years ago, Rubio’s one handed passes would have been considered to be too risky. At least one thing, however, hasn’t changed over time for Ricky and other playmakers. Back court turnovers are killers – both on the scoreboard and emotionally. Wolves dodged a bullet in this Clipper game.

    • Dave,
      Good point on Rubio getting the ball on the rim for tip ins. He does that pretty frequently–in hockey that’s an assist, in hoops it’s just a missed field goal.

      But his standing jumper is getting less accurate by the day. That’s what I’m getting concerned with. When he was hitting some shots early in the season, he was a legitimate All-Star candidate.