Like recent seasons past, the Wolves are beginning to develop negative trends that play out over the course of an extended losing streak, this one now at four games.
- Everybody (certainly this must include the bench and front office) knows that the team lacks a competent shooting guard. Luke Ridnour missed tonight’s game at Orlando for personal reasons. All the best to Luke and whatever he has going on, but his play at the off guard has not been good recently. Martell Webster didn’t help much tonight, scoring 5 points and turning it over twice in 22 minutes.
- Everybody knows that the Wolves struggle to take care of the basketball. They had 18 turnovers tonight, with the increasingly erratic J.J. Barea leading the way with 7 of his own in only 23 minutes.
- A new area of concern is three-point shooting. Against the Magic, Wolves players shot 6 for 21 (28.6 percent) from downtown–this following recent games of 6-19, 6-23, and 4-19. For the losing streak, they are a combined 26.8 percent from downtown, a rate that would put them dead last in the league by more than a couple of percentage points. Ricky creates a ton of three-point opportunities, but the Wolves won’t win many games if his teammates can’t convert them.
- Why is Wes Johnson still starting? This is the question that nobody has a good answer to. He isn’t even playing good defense, anymore. Jason Richardson scored 17 tonight, 5 over his average and many while baiting Wes into bad fouls or slamming him off screens for open jumpers. Wes’ 3 for 7 shooting night was good for him, but his minutes need to go elsewhere. Michael Beasley had a pretty average night by his standards (13 points in 25 minutes, a (-2) in a 13-point loss) and could play the same mediocre defense with better offensive punch.
I’m already beating dead horses, so I’ll keep this brief.
The Magic spread the floor around Dwight Howard and shoot a lot of threes. They make a lot of threes. In fact, they lead the league by a wide margin in made 3’s per game (9.9, next in NBA is New Jersey with 8.8). They made 12 tonight, and shot at a 40 percent clip.
J.J. Redick could run a basketball camp solely dedicated to using screens. He’s really made it into an artform. It’s silly what he does to defenders by running them off picks in all directions.
Ryan Anderson spreads the floor by being a 6’10” sharpshooter. All of this works beautifully around Superman Howard. It’s a shame that he’s going to leave the Florida Sun and this nice team chemistry. In a season as wide open as this one, Orlando has a real chance to win an improbable title, just as Dallas did last year.
Bottom line: the Wolves lost because they a) didn’t take care of the ball; b) didn’t defend the three ; c) took and missed lots of jumpers; and d) don’t have an NBA shooting guard.
Until next time.
Season Record: 13-16
4 responses to “Exposed Again (MAGIC 102, Wolves 89)”
Nice game again by Wolves’ center Pekovic: 6 for 13 on field goals, 13 rebounds and 16 points. He played strong defense against Magic’s outstanding center Howard: 4 for 11 on field goals, 7 rebounds, and 11 points. Pekovic played 32.32 minutes compared to Howard’s 27.50. We’ll find out now if Adelman can coach this group because the team is unglued. Beasley needs 35 minutes and should both start and finish. Find out if he’s a piece. There aren’t any alternatives. Wolves need scoring.
I kind of agree with your Beasley comment and had him pegged as a starter last night…it does boil down to alternatives. I was surprised by the inclusion of Martell as I feel he still looks broken. Rubio, Love and Pek are on their knees now and there’s little in the way of support. JJ (as Andy G alluded to above) has taken it upon himself, as ring winner, to start doing everything but it isn’t the same when the players you are on court with are Milicic, Johnson, Webster etc instead of Terry, Kidd, Marion, Chandler and The Big German. Coach Adelman may never find the right combos with this group which means change is needed as regards personnel…but will the front office wear that?
If they don’t this season could go to hell in a hand cart very quickly…this group of players don’t cope well in the face of adversity..
@Dave A, Kevin: Good points all around. I agree regarding Beasley, but it’s troubling that he’s playing so much worse than he did last season when Adelman and Rubio appear to help run a functional NBA offense that generates a lot of looks for guys who float to open spaces around the perimeter. Beasley should benefit from this as much as anyone, but he hasn’t. Not only has he not taken advantage of it, but he’s regressed a lot through a growing sample of games. Even looking just at per game numbers, he’s averaging around 14 ppg–a huge drop off from his ~20 ppg last year. He looks like he’s not focused on getting the kind of looks he needs to shoot at a decent clip, and he’s almost cursed by his natural talent to create shots easily, which enables him to get a bunch of shots each night but not make enough of them.
Clearly we need an upgrade at the 2. Where’s it going to come from? I hope Kahn is actively working the phones. I’d like to see O.J. Mayo brought aboard if he’s available at a reasonable price.
Beasley has been slightly better since returning from injury. Shooting 44.7 percent from the field and over 40 percent from downtown, instead of sub-40 percent from floor. His rebounding and assists are also up a little bit.
But he’s still slow to make decisions and careless with the ball. One area where he’s found recent success is the corner, behind the three-point line. Maybe he’d be smart to position himself there more often (Rubio constantly looks for the corner shooter) since he seems to have less clutter in his mind when he catches that pass. The shot goes up and often times goes in.
He’s a no-brainer option over Wes at the 3, though. If we add a shooting guard (like Mayo, or somebody similarly-competent) then Webster versus Beasley at the 3 would be a closer call.