Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Return of Dirk (Mavericks 104, WOLVES 97)

As you probably know, the Wolves have twice defeated the defending-champion Mavericks in this short season, each game by a decided margin of victory.  Although I joined the excitement of other Wolves fans about last year’s worst dominating last year’s best, it was impossible not to notice two things about those games:

1) In the first game, Dirk wasn’t Dirk (as Bill Simmons explained yesterday, Dirk showed up for training camp way out of shape, not yet recovering from the championship hangover).

2) In the second game, Dirk wasn’t playing.  (His legs were broken down from playing his way into shape, for the above reason.)

Last night’s game would include neither of those beneficial factors.  After beginning the season 3-5, Dallas had won 12 of its last 18 games, returning to contender form.  After his worst start to a season in over a decade, Dirk had finally caught fire.  In the three games leading up to last night’s, Dirk was averaging over 26 points per game on 61.5 percent shooting.  It appeared as though he’d be the matchup nightmare that fans have grown accustomed to watching.

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Supporting Casts (GRIZZLIES 85, Wolves 80)


Zach Randolph’s supporting cast outplayed Kevin Love’s supporting cast at Memphis, tonight, winning by 5 after a meaningless Beasley three beat the buzzer.  The game was never close, yet never a blowout.  It was the worst kind of hoops watching where the action is ugly and disjointed, but the game always in enough doubt to keep you there in front of the tv.

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A Loveless Victory (WOLVES 86, Kings 84)

Nobody quite knew what to predict for Minny’s first game of the season without its best player.  In fact, PJ published two separate posts in anticipation and speculation on exactly how this should shake out.  While the Kings are pretty lousy, they were coming off three consecutive wins and had big man DeMarcus Cousins playing the best basketball of his short career.  To eek out a win, even if ugly and way-too-close for comfort, is impressive in Love’s absence.

No Love

First things first: How did they do at replacing Kevin Love?

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Replacing Kevin Love, Part II: Derrick Williams vs Michael Beasley

Derrick Williams

Yesterday we asked who should replace Kevin Love in the starting lineup during Love’s suspension. Your response: Derrick Williams. And it wasn’t even close.

Williams and Michael Beasley are the most likely candidates to replace Love. Love’s suspension is an interesting if brief experiment to see what they might look like if Love weren’t locking down the four. Both have tantalizing talent, but neither has realized his full potential. Some have claimed that Love’s incumbency as the Wolves PF has hindered the development and performance of both Beasley and Williams by limiting their playing time and forcing them to play out of position.

It’s an intriguing experiment regardless of who gets the bulk of Love’s minutes. Before it begins, I wanted to take a close look at Williams and Beasley’s numbers this season to see if they suggest any interesting hypotheses.

The stats reveal some interesting trends.

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Replacing Kevin Love

Love getting chippy with Scola

So, the NBA has suspended Timberwolves forward Kevin Love for two games for stomping on Rockets forward Luis Scola’s face, reports Jerry Zgoda. Love will be out for tomorrow night’s tilt against Sacramento and Thursday at Memphis.

This stings: all of a sudden, the Kings look like a formidable opponent. Cousins might end up with 30 rebounds instead of just 15. And against Memphis, we’lll only have The Godfather to bang with Marc Gasol. Love’s absence is always felt the most  against teams with physical bigs. Unfortunately, the Kings and the Grizz both qualify.

But Love’s suspension also makes things a bit more interesting.

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Stomping the Rockets (WOLVES 100, Rockets 91)

I wasn’t going to post a game wrap, but with the Wolves off tomorrow night (next game Tuesday at home versus Sacramento) I thought we should have something up to acknowledge some events of Saturday Night, and to continue the ongoing discussion of all things Wolves as the season moves into its second trimester.


Minnesota has, finally, reached the elusive distinction of having won exactly one half of its games.  At 12-12, the Wolves have hit .500 for the first time since Kevin Garnett donned the blue and green, in 2007.  In case you forgot, Dwayne Casey had Ricky Buckets and Company at 20-20 before being fired.  Randy Wittman replaced him, closing out that season by going 12-30.  Yikes.  Decidedly-average pro basketball never felt so good.  The road of improvement continues ahead.

The Stomp

As I’m sure you’ve already seen or read about, Kevin Love stomped on Luis Scola’s face, last night.  Footage here.  Although no announcement (that I read, at least) was made today, I’d guess he’ll be suspended.  Love was apologetic after the game, without admitting any ill intent.  Scola was classy in his interview, deflecting all stomp questions away as if it was no big deal.  These kinds of things happen, and the Wolves are usually on the receiving end (Wally kicked in face by Bowen, Jaric slapped in face by Kobe, Beasley jacked up by Bynum, list goes on…) rather than dishing out cheap shots.  My griping at the time had more to do with how he was playing immediately before the stomp.  It was more of the begging for a bailout stuff that irks me as a fan.  He actually got away with at least two obvious fouls (both against Scola, one offensive, one defensive) but seemed to be getting really upset that calls weren’t actually being made in his favor.  Love can play a really clean game of great basketball when he wants (and did so for large parts of this one–he was great in this win) but sometimes resorts to this bush league crap that is annoying to watch.

Miller Looking Back Door

Brad Miller threw 4 backdoor passes in 6 minutes of action.  He was whipping them off the catch without regard for anything.  Think this guy has played for Carrill Adelman before?  Coach has spoken recently about wanting to get his offense installed to lessen the burden on Rubio’s pick-and-roll sets.  Perhaps Miller has been assigned to expedite this process.  On one backdoor attempt that ended in a turnover, Beasley cut out instead of toward the hoop.  Miller looked upset, letting him know that an easy scoring opportunity was wasted.  If this team can add Princeton halfcourt offense to Everything Else Rubio… whoa.

The Rotation

If you remove Brad Miller and his six minutes of tick, Adelman’s Saturday rotation was of nine players; the number he has pointed out as being ideal.  The heavy lifters appear to be Rubio, Ridnour, Love and Pekovic.  Middle guys are Barea, Beasley, Webster, and Wes.  D-Thrill is a limited reserve.  Randolph is in street clothes, and Ellington and Tolliver don’t take off their sweats.


* J.J. was pretty awesome in this game with his one-man circus routine of buzzing around the halfcourt and eventually fooling five defenders into allowing him an open layup.

* Patrick Patterson will play many years in the league with that mid-range jumper he’s already mastered.

* Luke bounced back quickly from an ugly performance at New Jersey.  4-6 from downtown and 22 points. There are 10 or so minutes in each game that he and Barea will always fight for.

* Big Pek followed up his career night with an efficient 11 points and 9 rebounds with only 1 turnover.  If he becomes as consistent as he already is powerful, popular and cool, we’ve got ourselves a legitimate starter of an NBA center.

* Kevin Martin shot the ball horribly in this game.  He was 1 for 10 with 2 points in 31 minutes.  Basically, the exact opposite of his last Target Center performance.  Perhaps the non-Ellington defense (I can’t recall if it was Luke or Wes) was a factor.  This, as much as anything, explains the victory.

Season Record: 12-12


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An Adelman Hook: What went wrong for Beasley in the 2nd Half

The following is a bulleted outline, breaking down Beasley’s second-half meltdown last night that led to a quick yank and less than four minutes of playing time for the entire half.  My initial reaction was that Adelman pulled the hook too early, and let Beasley get cold on the bench for way too long to start the half.

  • 78-71 Wolves: 1:27 to go in 3rd Quarter, Beasley checks into game for first time in the period.
  • Nets
    • Farmar hits jumpshot
      • Beasley is guarding Keith Bogans, isn’t involved in this play.
  • Wolves
    • Beasley catches pass, passes back.  It’s returned to him in a bad spot in the corner, he’s doubled, ball is knocked out of bounds by defense.
    • Ridnour turns ball over when he jumps to pass and pass isn’t there.
  • Nets
    • Beasley guarding Bogans on wing, Farmar drives Beasley shades to middle.  Farmar kicks out to Bogans who shoots three.  Beasley leaps toward Bogans on close-out, Bogans misses shot, Wolves rebound.
  • Wolves
    • Beasley is in corner.  Barea drives, forces shot.  Misses shot, Love rebounds and converts shot.
  • Nets
    • Farmar drives, Ridnour commits blocking foul.
    • Beasley defends Bogans in corner, when guard penetrates toward Beasley’s side, Bogans cuts backdoor.  Beasley loses sight of his man, Bogans catches pass, misses contested layup.  Scrum ensues, Nets eventually score on basket in the paint.
  • Wolves
    • On final possession of quarter, Luke and Love unsuccessfully attempt a post up.  Quarter ends with desperation miss by Love at buzzer.
  • 4th Quarter
  • Wolves
    • Love has ball above high post, Beasley comes off of screen to catch and shoot from 16 feet.  He changes his mind in mid air (appears to see an open Wolf, but it isn’t there) and turns ball over.  The shot would have been there, had he just taken it.
  • Nets
    • Morrow is defended by Beasley.  Sets him up for a good down screen, Beasley doesn’t do a great job of being ready for this.  By the time he comes around the screen, Morrow is shooting.  Beasley leaps at him and hits his arm, Morrow makes the shot, falls to the ground and Beasley is whistled for the foul.  Three-point play.
  • Wolves
    • Beasley positioned in corner.  Rubio dangles around and eventually sets up Pekovic for a close shot.  Pek is fouled and goes to the line.
  • Nets
    • Beasley defending Shawne Williams.  Farmar has the ball on the wing and Williams sets a ball screen.  Beasley gives a half-show and floats back toward Williams, who popped to the corner.  Farmar flips the ball back to Williams who shoots the three in rhythm.  Beasley is not all the way out to contest the shot well.  Williams makes the shot.  Williams is shooting 26.5 percent from 3 this season, but 34.2 percent for his career.
  • Wolves
    • Love posts up, Beasley is in the way at first.  Beasley clears out to the corner, Love is passed the ball and converts a nice jump hook.
  • Nets
    • Beasley defending Williams who is in the corner, opposite the ball.  Beasley is in proper help position, just outside the paint on the weak side.  Shot goes up and Beasley waits for it.  Williams rushes in from the three line as Beasley is reaching up for the rebound.  Williams slaps at the ball and knocks it loose.  Basket is converted.
  • Wolves
    • Beasley posts up on the mid post.  Rubio passes it to him, and Beasley is immediately fouled by Williams on the pass.
  • 9:57 remaining in the 4th Quarter.  Wolves lead 84-83.  Wesley Johnson substitutes Michael Beasley.


  • Playing Time: 3:30
  • Stats: 0 points or shots, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 turnover
  • Defense: 1 missed blockout, 1 time burned backdoor, 1 stupid foul and mediocre defense on Morrow shot, 1 time surrendered a pick-and-pop three to a 26.5 percent shooter, 1 time contested three attempt by Bogans with shot missed.
  • My Opinions: Watching it again, he had a string of successful plays against him, some with more culpability than others.  I’m fine with the decision to yank him if that’s Adelman’s way.  I guess I am more puzzled by him sitting out 10:33 after halftime when he had such a productive first half.  The lead was already slipping some with Mike on the bench (from 11 down to 7) and he probably sat too long.  Also, the player who came in for Mike (Wes) made many mistakes, most notably fouling a three-point shooter when his team was up by 5.  Of course, that shot went in.  I hope things go better for Mike tonight, and he learns to be more focused defensively.  So it goes.


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A Serbian Nightmare (Wolves 108, NETS 105)

The Godfather

6:48, Andy G: So, Darko and Wes start again.  Both playing like crap again.  Wolves fall behind early. What gives?
7:08, Patrick J: One quarter in the books. Wolves up 23-19. ANOTHER bad start. Coincidence? This is hard to watch. Quick, does anyone have a good Kris Humphries joke?
7:15, Andy G: Barea and Beasley give a huge spark off the bench, just like last game.  I hope each gets more tick tonight than they did versus Indiana.
7:20, Patrick J: (Eds. note: Derrick Williams with a huge tomahawk with 5:58 in the 2nd). How much more athletic is the Derrick Williams we have than the Derrick Williams we thought we were getting when we drafted him? God this guy can cram.
7:28, Andy G: This Rubio-Ridnour backcourt is looking pretty horrific, tonight.  Now Webster joins them and body slams D-Will for a turnover.  The bench is way-outplaying the starting lineup so far.
7:32, Andy G: If K-Hump & Shelden become a PROBLEM, I’m going to be pissed.  It’s looking like a real possibility in first half.
7:36, Andy G: Rubio finishing half well, assists a Webster trey, finds Tolliver for dunk attempt/fouled.
7:38, Patrick J: The Wolves consistently get DESTROYED by shooters like ANTHONY MORROW. 20 pts in the first half and it looked like a breeze. Wayne Ellington is already salivating about the NUMB#RS he’ll have against the Wolves with his next team. 50-49 Nets at the half.
7:43, Andy G: I’m going to (slightly) disagree.  Morrow hit at least two 3’s with a hand RIGHT in his face (once Luke, once Martell).  But 20 points is a ton.  The dish from D-Will (between legs, backwards) was also pretty much set up by an elite point guard.
7:47, Patrick J: As long as you’re not disagreeing with my point about Wayne…
7:49, Patrick J: (Eds. note: Still halftime) I’m going to burn a Kurt Rambis doll in effigy if Adelman doesn’t give the Barea/Beasley/Pekovic group more time in the second half. They  gave a HUGE spark off the bench in the first half.
7:53, Andy G: By the way, what’s up with Kevlar?  6 points on 1-6 shooting, and a (-8)?  He should be able to beat up on this Jersey Shore front line.

7:57, Patrick J: Pekovic starts the 2nd half. My Rambis doll is safe for now.

8:01, Andy G: In a short sequence, Rubio picked Deron’s pocket and assisted Wes TWICE (no small feat).  What a baller.
8:02, Patrick J: Nets announcer: “They might lead the NBA in beards” (referring to the Wolves). Shows side-by-side mug shot pics of Love and Brad Miller while Pekovic is busy scoring inside. Doesn’t seem amused. 59-58 Nets with 7:15 in the 3rd.
8:06, Patrick J: Rubio with the sickest handling trick I’ve seen this season. You’ll want to watch SportsCenter, like, now.
8:09, Patrick J: Okay, Pekovic is outclassing Love. (Insert “Apocalypse” cliche here.) Pek has 17/8 and Love 10/5 with 3:26 left in the 3rd.
8:14, Andy G: Nets with an UNSPEAKABLY-BAD second unit leading comeback charge.  Where the fuck is Michael Beasley?  (See first half line of 10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists in 12 minutes of action.)  Has been sitting almost entire 3rd Quarter, now…
8:24, Patrick J: The Godfather has 21/10. Wolves up 84-83 with 10:02 in 4th. (Eds. note: Beasley’s FINALLY back on the floor after a painfully long absence. Thanks Rick!)
8:27, Patrick J: Nine minutes to go. Morrow’s 31 beat Pek’s 21. NOT a moral victory.
8:33, Andy G: After a couple of mistakes that followed a RIDICULOUSLY-long stretch on the pine, Beasley is quickly yanked.  I GUARANTEE that this has something to do with an unknown, off-game court event.  Mike outplayed all of his teammates, save Pek, in the first half, and gets this treatment?  I hope it’s nothing too serious with the coaching staff and higher ups.
9:32, Patrick J: Wes flails awkwardly on a contested miss from just inside the foul line. Having to write about Wes like this every day makes think I’m having a really long, nerdy, nightmare. ‘Cause in real life Wes would be over with Anthony Randolph, right? Right?
8:38, Patrick J: Tied at 89 with 5:39 to go. About to enter #winningtime.
8:41, Andy G: Rubio & Love exchanging clutch baskets with Morrow (!!!)… close game.  Should be exciting finish.  (Seriously, Morrow has 35 points and might hit 40 soon… was he one of those Rambis Targets that killed us last year or the year before?)
8:42, Patrick J: Nets announcer: “Anthony Morrow can do no wrong.” Nightmare hypothesis confirmed. 95-95 with 2:38 in 4th.
8:45, Patrick J: Morrow’s in a “Shitty Player, Wolves Killer” category that includes C.J. WATSON, REGGIE WILLIAMS, RYAN ANDERSON (okay, Anderson’s actually really good).
8:46, Patrick J: Nets announcer: “ANTHONY MORROW IS UNCONSCIOUS!” (I’m starting to worry I’ll never wake up.) Back to the announcer: this guy clearly came up listening to Kevin Harlan.
8:57, Andy G: A barrage of Rubio-Love-Pekovic led action has the Wolves winning this game.
8:57, Andy G: Okay, ANTHONY MORROW just hit a 3… AND GOT FOULED!!!!!!  41 Points!!!!! WTF?!?! Wolves lead by 1 with 23 seconds left.  A victory was in hand, now very much in doubt.
9:00, Patrick J: My League Pass Broadband cut out for a minute. When it came back to life, Morrow was finishing a 4-point play. Yeah.
9:02, Patrick J: Barea makes two throw with 18.2 left. Wolves 106, Nets 103.
9:05, Andy G: Game over, Rubio seals the win with a steal and Seve-like wedge shot just passed mid court with some backspin.  A few parting thoughts:
* The Beasley benching was a little weird.  Then again, once Rubio-Love-Pek got it going, perhaps Adelman thought Beasley wasn’t needed.  But why then play Luke at the 2, who isn’t so good on defense?  Strange stuff.
* If a guy like Anthony Morrow is going off, should the Wolves abandon defensive principles and stick to him (the way, say, Ray Allen is guarded) or assume the HOT HAND THEORY doesn’t exist and defend as usual?  Good question.  I don’t know the answer.
* Rubio and Love played extremely hard, and extremely in sync in the 4th Quarter of this game.  Big Pek dominated quarters 1 through 3, but Rubio-Love took this home.  That late possession when Morrow put them up 3 (with another 3) and Rubio quickly answered it with a driving basket… that was a sign that Ricky was not letting this one go easy.
* A road win is a good win.
* Weird, weird win.  Love was off most of the night; Pek and Morrow were the stories. This permutation of events is unlikely ever to occur again. Those who tuned in witnessed history.
* That said, it was largely difficult to watch. The Pek sideshow is funny but I don’t like that fans are beginning to think he’s a solution at the 5. Dude’s a backup.
* Can we get some more Mike Beasley? Or some Derrick Williams? I won’t say anything else because it’s already in every other post we put up.
* Darko sat, and so did Wayne. If I’m going to criticize Adelman’s playing time allocations, he also gets credit where credit’s due.
Season Record: 11-12


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Rapid Fire: 30 Questions for 30 Teams

  1. Bobcats – Is Byron Mullens the best player on this team?
  2. Pistons – How soon will Greg Monroe be an All-Star center?
  3. Hornets – Will Eric Gordon play another game this season?
  4. Wizards – Is Randy Wittman doing a good coaching job?  NECESSARY FOLLOW UP: Is my whole life a lie?
  5. Raptors – Should we (and by “we” I am not including myself—whatever) start rethinking Andrea Bargnani’s overall value, in light of Raps’ record with him (6-7) and without him (1-9)?
  6. Kings – Can we agree now that Westphal wasn’t really the problem?
  7. Nets – Is it possible to fast forward to next season?
  8. Knicks – Why does Mike D’Antoni coach a front-court heavy, half-court team?
  9. Suns – #freestevenash – (Sorry, that wasn’t a question.)
  10. Cavaliers – Are people getting a little bit TOO EXCITED about Kyrie Irving?
  11. Warriors – Is this the league’s biggest no man’s land/basketball purgatory team?
  12. TIMBERWOLVES – Can we beat the Nets and Rockets to get to .500 already?
  13. Bucks – Should we be happy that people are coming around on Brandon Jennings, or upset that it took this long?
  14. Celtics – Why hasn’t this roster been blown up yet?
  15. Grizzlies – Is this the best team in the West when its best player comes back from injury?
  16. Rockets – If the Rockets win more games (higher percentage) than last year, what does this say  about Kevin McHale as a head coach?
  17. Jazz – Should Al Jefferson be an All-Star reserve?
  18. Blazers – Can they get out of the first round of the playoffs?
  19. Lakers – What is the end game here?
  20. Magic – If Orlando gets enough in return for D12 (a fringe All-Star perimeter player and a big man) can they pull a 2011 Nuggets and become a scary playoff team?
  21. Mavericks – What the hell is going on with Lamar Odom?
  22. Clippers – Title contender now, or only after VDN and Chauncey are gone?
  23. Spurs – See Question #19.
  24. Nuggets – When the Nuggets fall in the playoffs, will it be because their up-tempo style doesn’t work as well in the series format, or because they don’t have the superstar talent that Team X/Y/Z has that beat them?
  25. Pacers –Did Larry Legend just totally demolish the old notion that you need to get worse before you can get better?
  26. Hawks – How long do we wait to ponder Al Horford’s importance (7-4 with; 9-3 without) to this team?
  27. Heat – Does anything matter before May and June?
  28. 76ers – Can they (or Pacers for that matter) reach Eastern Conference Finals?
  29. Thunder – Why does Scott Brooks seem to have to win a title with this young team in order to keep his job?
  30. Bulls – Is Derrick Rose wired the same as Michael and Kobe?  If so, can he avoid becoming as unlikeable as those two have become as people?  (Sorry that was two questions.) 

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Pacing the Competition (Pacers 109, WOLVES 99)

So, the Wolves lost last night to the Pacers 109-99 (box score). What did we learn? For one thing, the Pacers are good. Really good. Maybe the 3rd best team in the East, depending on what you think about the Sixers, Hawks, and Magic. A lot of words have been typed about the Sixers resurgence, and while they’re playing great, I like Indiana better from top to bottom. They don’t have a lot of weaknesses, they play hard, and their pieces fit together nicely. They were 14-6 coming into last night’s game, but the buzz around the game made it feel like the Wolves should be the favorite. The bad loss was a painful reality check that should  remind the Wolves that progress does not a good team make.

A few bullets:

* The Wolves throw away minutes when they start Wes and Darko. Both started; each played 18 minutes.  Wes went 2-6 with 2 turnovers and a (-12). Darko was 2-9 with 2 turnovers and a (-15).  Yes, +/- is a slippery metric for single-game performance. But look at their season stats. They’re entirely consistent with both the horrendous efforts we saw last night and what we’ve seen with our own eyes all season. Adelman must see it too, right? A combined 4 for 15 with 4 turnovers and (-27) is hardly an uncommon line for these two. Playing either of them, let alone both, is really hurting the team.

* More Wes/Darko: It’s even more frustrating and confounding that they got those minutes last night since Adelman had a fuller squad at his disposal. I get that Hibbert and Granger/George look like matchup problems for Pek/AR and Beasley/Williams, respectively. But all three of those Pacers pretty much did what they want against Darko and Wes. Why not counter with Williams and Beasley and initiate matchup problems for IND? Last night was a tactical #fail for Adelman, his first and hopefully last of the season.

* Speaking of Paul George: He MIGHT be better than Wes. PG ended up in foul trouble, but when he was out there… whoa. He did it all. For starters, he defended Rubio as well as anyone this season; he also hit an impressive variety of shots, going 4-6 on fadeaways, threes, drives, etc. You name it, it’s in George’s arsenal. But that’s not all: George rebounds and can block shots too. For the night, he was +14 in just 19 minutes of action.

* The Pacers: I don’t want this to turn into a “__________ are so good” sort of discussion that was so common the last few seasons, when every Wolves drumming left us feeling like our opponent was just THAT GOOD… but as I said at the top of the post, the Pacers are pretty damn good. Granger won’t always light it up on this scale–he went for 36–but his 9-19 shooting wasn’t way outside his norm either.  Granger made some perimeter shots, carved up the Wolves D, and drew all kinds of fouls in the process.

* The Pacers got momentum after Granger picked up a tech in the third for a pushing match with Love.  The two took it outside, 21st century style–which of course involves Twitter. Love dissed Indy in the post-game interviews, and Danny took it to Twitter. They may be questioning each other’s MASCULINITY through SMS as I write this.

* Roy Hibbert: He’s really good. Hibbert scored easily on Darko (6-9 for 15 points) and showed off a variety of nice moves with his back to the basket. For a 7’2″ player, Hibbert has good footwork and surprising athleticism.  In a league largely devoid of star post players, Hibbert could make an All-Star team before he’s done.

What were your takeaways from this one?

Wolves record: 10-12


by | February 2, 2012 · 11:56 AM