Jazz 97, WOLVES 93: Good/Bad/Ugly

THE GOOD

Ricky Rubio

Rubio damn near went Ice Cube tonight, messin’ around and almost getting a triple double.  He had 18 points (12-13 free throws) 9 rebounds and 10 assists.  He had 4 steals and even 1 block.  Just 2 turnovers.  The Wolves have formed a bad habit of falling behind in games.  This version without Love and Kirilenko does, anyway.  A little silver lining is how Ricky continues to scratch and claw, never surrurending defeat no matter the point spread.  His TENACIOUS D has been a catalyst for many almost-miraculous comebacks in recent weeks, including tonight’s game.  He was pretty damn good in this game.

THE BAD

Defense at End of 3rd/Beginning of 4th

Wolves led by 1 with 3 minutes to play in the 3rd Quarter.  The following is Utah’s list of field goal attempts after that point:

Al Jefferson makes driving layup
Al Jefferson misses 20-foot jumper
Paul Millsap makes driving layup
Derrick Favors makes layup
Earl Watson makes 4-foot shot
Al Jefferson makes driving layup
(missed end of 3rd Quarter buzzer-beater prayer)
Enes Kanter makes layup
Enes Kanter makes 7-foot jumper

The Wolves defense totally let up with 15 minutes to go in the game.  After this streak of easy Jazz buckets, the Wolves trailed by 9 and struggled to make it close until it was another “too little/too late” comeback bid.  While the offense had plenty of issues tonight (they shot 34.1% from the field) this lack of effort and focus was what I noticed as the substantial contributing cause of the game’s result.  Utah played Oklahoma City last night and came out very flat.  By allowing them so many easy buckets at a pivotal moment, the Wolves surrendered the lead along with any momentum.

Alexey Shved

Shved only played 11 minutes tonight, shooting 0-4, doing almost nothing, and registering a -16 in just those limited minutes.  I don’t think Alexey has hit a “rookie wall,” as much as he’s been scouted and he needs to get physically stronger and fine tune some aspects of his game.  In a perfect world, he’ll find a niche next to Rubio that leaves him open in the corners sometimes.  (To this point, many of his 3′s come from the difficult wing spot.)  It’s a process, he’s got game, and he’ll be fine.  But he’s definitely playing at a lower level than earlier this season.

THE UGLY

D-Thrill at the Rim

Fifty games into this thing, I’m bound to have some dead horses to beat.  I just cannot get over how difficult it’s become to watch Derrick Williams try to score around the basket.  The jumping from too far out.  The bringing the ball down to his waist so a guard can tie him up for a jump ball, instead of drawing a foul.  Rocket-firing would-be layups across the glass to the other side of the floor.  That spin move.  Ugh, that spin move.  It’s just brutal.  Sometimes he times things up correctly and gets a whistle on his way up to the rim.  Left with an easy layup — the kind that athletic players often make for the proverbial “And-1″ — he just never converts those and instead gets 1.4 points from the foul line.

Williams did a lot of things well tonight.  Some of them were after the game was almost beyond doubt, but he did a lot of stuff.  He had 24 points and 16 rebounds.  But the 7-17 shooting line should’ve been more like 10 or 11 for 17 with 30+ points.  He should be capable of the occasional 30-point game.  He was — rightfully so — billed as a bigtime scorer.  But he isn’t one because he’s so unbelievably bad at basic scoring around the basket.  For an easy contrast in tonight’s game, we saw Paul Millsap out-fundamentally-sound Young Derrick to the tune of 21 & 8 in a commanding +12 performance.  Millsap just makes the game look easy.  Kind of like his former teammate Andrei Kirilenko does.  Will Derrick ever learn to make layups?  I haven’t a clue.  But it wears on me, as a fan, to see so many blunders in a part of the game that shouldn’t be so difficult for him.

All-Star Weekend is upon the Timberwolves.  Watch Ricky and Shved in the Rising Stars game on Friday at 8:00 CST.

Season Record: 19-31

About these ads

9 Comments

Filed under Timberwolves

9 responses to “Jazz 97, WOLVES 93: Good/Bad/Ugly

  1. Dane

    I think one of the bigger things with Derrick finishing around the rim is his left hand is barely better than mine (about as bad as can be). Obviously not the only issue, but if I’ve noticed it I’d be willing to bet it’s on the other team’s scouting report.
    I’m a big fan of PDW, you’re writing is very entertaining and you guys understand the game more than most.
    Thanks guys!!

    • Dane–
      Thanks for the kind words (and for reading). I don’t know if Derrick’s finishing can be limited to one cause, but you’re probably on to something with the left hand theory. If he isn’t traded, I hope he can improve.

    • Raskolnikov

      Keep up the great work, Andy G. Here’s hoping the Wolves start getting the pieces back together and the chemistry cranked sometime before the end of this season, even if only for the last few games, thereby ratcheting up anticipation and momentum for next season. It’s happened before with other teams. Wonder if Shved could borrow Dirk’s off-season tutor for the summer of ’13.

      Raskolnikov

  2. Nathan Anderson

    Happy Valentine’s Day, PDW.

    If only it was still possible for the Lakers to beat the Supersonics.

    I think you need to learn to stop worrying and love Derrick Williams’s inability to finish around the basket.

    • Thanks, Nathan. No, “Lakers beat the *Thunder*” just doesn’t invoke the same imagery. I’ve wanted Seattle to get a new Sonics franchise, if only to turn the universe right-side up again.

  3. Dave A.

    Most interesting stats I’ve seen in some time:
    Utah reserves: Favors, Watson, Birks, Carroll, and Kanter make 19 of 40 field goals. Minnesota reserves: Shved, Barea, Cunningham, Stiemsma, and Johnson make 4 of 21 shots. That’s 19 field goals to only 4. Fun to watch a power team like Utah that has depth. Credit Rubio for keeping the Wolves in the game — 97-93.

    • Dave, good observation. That concisely captures a lot of the misery that was watching that game. Depth and consistency are going to be problems the rest of the way, so I guess we brace for more to come.

  4. The Jazz should trade one of their 967 bigs. The consensus is that Millsap is the best get. Al Jefferson isn’t coming back here. You’ve also got Favors and Kanter, who’re both still very interesting prospects. Of the bunch, I’d prefer Favors if we were in the market for one. I like his size and athleticism – basically, he could play both the four and the five for us. None of the others, save Al (maybe), could do that (though I’d happily be proven wrong about Kanter).

    Two questions:

    1. Do you agree that Favors is the most desirable target, once you take into account cost, age, need, availability etc?

    2. What would it cost the Wolves to get him? The Jazz need guards in a bad way…

    • 1. Yes.
      2. Too much. Utah isn’t letting Favors go — unless ENES! proves to be as good or better an they can get a haul for D-Favors. For the Wolves to get him… that’s a tough one, and I’d say it probably Rubio.