The injury-depleted Wolves limp into Charlotte tonight for a 7:30 PM Eastern tilt against the Bobcats. Fresh off a 114-101 loss to the Wiz last night in The District (see our video diary of the night here) the Wolves will again be running in a 10-man pack, remaining Love-less and waiting for a Pek (*that’s what she Shved* [h/t Anthony Downs]).
What that means is that the Wolves are still without three of their best five players, trying to fill gaps, and suffering from matchup problems galore due to the patchwork rotations that end up getting used. More specifically, it means our bigs really struggle to defend opposing front lines. Nene and Emeka Okafor systematically dismantled Derrick Williams and Greg Stiemsma, last night. Luke Ridnour’s playing out of position too, trying to defend shooting guards like Washington’s Brad Beal, who torched the Wolves’ undersized defenders en route to a team-high +24 while letting the game come to him.
We’re also seeing signs from The Other Guys, 10-dayers Mickael Gelabale and Chris Johnson. Last night, Gelabale had 15 points and 7 rebounds. Gelly was especially active on the offensive glass, looking for second-chance opportunities, and quick-leaping for boards that were otherwise being squirted out to ‘Zards guards for transition opportunities. This is Gelly’s thing. Shoot a bit, cut a bit, board a bit. Do stuff. He’s fun.
Johnson’s line wasn’t as eye-catching as Gelabale’s, but he was very solid in 21 minutes, scoring 9 on 3/6 shooting, picking up 5 boards, and getting credited with a block on the most egregious goaltend in NBA history. (Seriously, the shot CJ *blocked* had been on the way down for like 6 seconds when he batted it out of the sky.) Like Gelabale, the Wolves get a shot in the arm when CJ is out there.
So what do we have here? Both Gelly and CJ are competent pros. Neither is, or ever will be, great. But that’s okay. Given how little time they’ve had with the Wolves, their mistakes are relatively few and both do a lot of stuff.
And we need that now more than ever.