Instant Reactions (BLAZERS 108, Wolves 97)

The Wolves lost tonight. The end result isn’t as upsetting to fans as the manner in which it came to be. Since it’s late and tomorrow is Monday morning, I’m doing this rapid-fire style with a few key bullet points:

* The obvious storyline is that Ricky Rubio sat out the entire fourth quarter, despite three major factors suggesting this was a bad idea:

1) He was playing pretty well. He had 11 assists in just 23 minutes of action;

2) A growing body of stats shows that the Wolves play much worse with Barea than with Ricky during fourth quarters; and

3) J.J. Barea, his replacement, lost his cool in a chippy matchup with Blazers reserve guard, Mo Williams. Barea actually won that matchup in the first half, scoring 15 points in the first two periods. But Williams eventually got him fired up (in a bad way — REALLY bad way) and this led to offensive fouls and dumb shots. Long story short: Rick Adelman has fans and analysts perplexed as to why he prefers Barea over Rubio down the stretch of close games. Wolves brilliant color commentator Jim Petersen openly discussed this confusion after the game, and it’s a story that is not going away.

* Portland was without LaMarcus Aldridge, which would seem to even the odds against an opponent missing two starters (and one of those starter’s back-up) of its own. But Damian Lillard stepped up with 32 points, and Thomas Robinson worked his ass off all night on the boards. (He had 18 of them.) With a raucous home crowd as inspiration, the Blazers ratcheted up their intensity in the second half, right around the time when the Barea wheels came off. Credit where it’s due: the Blazers took control of this game with their own effort and execution.

* K-Love had 31 points and 10 rebounds (ho hum) but seemed a little bit gassed in the second half. Or I’m just holding him to an unfair standard. He was really good, but probably needed to be great on a night when so many things went wrong for his teammates. I guess that summarizes his tenure as a Wolf.

* The rookies played a lot. Again. Shabazz is the most interesting to discuss because he was drafted the highest and because he’s played the least. On one hand, his scoring move — that spin-move that leads into a lefty baby hook — is scouted. Defenders know it’s coming and it no longer works. Not until he develops a credible counter, anyway. But on the other, he crashes the heck out of the boards. Bazz pulled down 7 rebounds in just 22 minutes. He’s far from polished, but I like his nose for the ball. Gorgui Dieng and Robbie Hummel also collected a lot of rebounds without doing much else. For what it’s worth, Hummel was a team-best +10.

* Corey Brewer played a poor game. I don’t have a single stat or play that comes to mind to support this, but he just seemed out of control and ineffective from start to finish.

That’s about all I’ve got on this one. Next game is Tuesday at Phoenix. Until then.

Season Record: 27-29

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Instant Reactions (BLAZERS 108, Wolves 97)

  1. Nate in St. Paul

    Corey is the biggest train wreck on the team. His bushleague entanglement with Lillard was followed with him trash talking the Blazers bench which led directly into the Robinson block. That stretch is what really energized Portland and sealed the deal. His entire night was spent gambling for steals, being out of position on defense and the glass, and riling up a Blazers squad that really appeared in need of a solid motive to win the game. Ugh, I can’t believe he’s back on this team. It sucks so much.

    • I missed the bench trash talk, but I guess it doesn’t surprise me. That was a pretty incredible swing stretch. (If I were cheering for the other team, I’d have been going bananas.)

      Corey’s overpaid and has too big of a role. I wish we had a legitimate two-way wing player in the starting lineup with Bud/LRMAM/Brewer as bench options depending on what might be needed that night. Brewer’s energy can be helpful in small doses.

      • I agree with this. I’m not as down on Corey as Nate is but I do think the contract was a huge mistake. He could be an exciting player off the bench if he was priced correctly. Instead, he is who we have for the next three years. Ugh. That sequence ending with the block was bad. I don’t think I have ever seen a player with as much time to tee up for a block.

        • Nate in St. Paul

          Just wait until he’s the main offensive option on a non-Love squad with Pek hurt on the bench. We’re only a year away from getting to watch that happen.