Tonight’s matchup with Philly turned into an interesting contest. It was interesting because a near-capacity crowd showed up on a Sunday night even though the Sixers don’t have a “superstar” talent that typically draws big attendance. It was interesting because it was very close for nearly the entire game. It was interesting because Jrue Holiday and Ricky Rubio are each fascinating players in different ways. And it was interesting because the Wolves won by a single point, in somewhat bizarre fashion.
Love Steps Up in #winningtime
For the first 38 or so minutes of this game, Kevin Love couldn’t do anything right with the ball in his hands. His shot was blocked repeatedly, and his jumpers weren’t falling. Trailing by 4 with 10:52 to go, the Wolves called timeout. At this point, Love was shooting 2 for 15 from the floor. Watching from the stands, I was perplexed as to why the Wolves continuously focused the offensive sets around Love in the post. It wasn’t working. Of course, when I took this confusion to Twitter, Love immediately began dominating the game with his one-on-one scoring. He finished the game by going 5 for 8 from the floor, scoring 13 points in those final 11 minutes, including the game-winning free throws with 0.1 seconds remaining. Despite struggling for much of this one, Love still ended up with a 20 & 15. Not so bad.
Jrue & Rubio
I hadn’t seen Jrue Holiday play live, before. Seeing him tonight, I was immediately taken by the incredible defensive pressure that he puts on the ball. He’s like a bigger, stronger Roddy Beaubois. (Me thinking this was kind of ironic, as Rubio scored 14 points in the 1st Quarter.) He’s also got pretty sick handles, carves up the lane and creates for himself and others, and is improving as a jumpshooter. Holiday was the 17th Pick in the draft where the Timberwolves selected Jonny Flynn 6th. Oh well, at least we have that Rubio guy. He was awesome again for stretches in this game, scoring in the 1st Quarter, and hitting Pekovic repeatedly for easy baskets in the 2nd Half.
* Many NBA players choose to not attempt long buzzer beaters, certainly protecting their field goal percentage at potential cost to their team. Tonight, Lou Williams carefully waited for the third-quarter buzzer to sound before launching, and hitting, a long shot. His team went on to lose the game by a single point. Stats are for losers.
* Corey Brewer (a player who ALWAYS took that shot–and even forced overtime with a 60-foot heave, one time) takes on his former team in Denver tomorrow night. Due to injuries (Danilo Gallinari) Brew has been starting for the Nuggets in recent games. He even led them in scoring the other night with 26. He’s a flawed player, but it would have been cool to see his winning attitude be a part of this Wolves resurgence.
* Wes Johnson (the player occupying Brew’s old spot in the rotation) played a scoreless 22 minutes, tonight, chipping in a couple turnovers for good measure. When I second guess Rick Adelman, I’m usually proven wrong (like going to Love in the post, tonight) but I don’t think I’ll be proven wrong when I say Adelman is making a mistake by giving minutes to Wes. His defense is fine–sometimes helpful–but it’s hardly “elite” or noticeably better than Martell and Mike, who are both better offensive players than Wes.
* Having won 3 games in a row, Minnesota is now back to .500, and within 1 game of the 8 Seed, currently occupied by the Blazers. Of the current Top 8, I view Houston as the one most likely to be displaced as a playoff team. The Wolves are currently 2 games behind the Rockets.
Season Record: 16-16