Kyle Korver being defended by a 6’6″ player.
With just under 4 minutes to go in the first half of today’s game at Atlanta, the Wolves held a 54-36 lead. In the remaining 27 minutes and 46 seconds of action, the Hawks outscored the Wolves 68 to 42. In barely more than one half of basketball, the Wolves were outscored by 26 points. How does that happen?
Luke Ridnour: Out of Position, Out of Role
The Hawks made a halftime adjustment by starting Kyle Korver in the third quarter. The Wolves went with their starting lineup that included Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour. Seems reasonable enough, why start adjusting to the Hawks when everything they had done to that point was working just fine? Problem was, the the Wolves put tiny Ridnour on tall Korver. Ricky Rubio, meanwhile, stayed on the little point guard, Jeff Teague. Korver licked his chops, remembering the damage he inflicted in the late moments of the last Wolves-Hawks game. That damage was done when Ridnour was trying to check him.
After Josh Smith and Al Horford each scored and cut the Wolves lead to 10, Korver took over. In a span of 4 possessions and less than 2 minutes, Korver hit a pair of treys and a curling jumper, cutting the once-18-point lead down to just 4. From that point on, the game was close and the Wolves large advantage was gone.
I have a dream, that Wolves fans will be seeing lots more plays like this…
MLK Day Wolves games are the best. Sam Mitchell won’t be walking through that door, so it won’t be quite like the good ol’ days, but the Wolves are on a one-game winning streak, and that’s better than an any-game losing streak.
[Last night’s game is the rare Wolves tilt that shows up in my League Pass Broadband archives. I wanted to look back at Derrick Williams’ three turnovers, because I remember each one was of the head-scratching and maddening variety, and they represent recurring issues with the inconsistent young forward. Below are my notes on how he screwed up 3 times in last night’s 1st Half, causing his minutes to be limited to just 29 on a night that every other viable option was out with an injury or illness.]
Even when you consider that the Wolves were the home team and the Rockets were playing on zero nights rest, this was an unexpected win. When you consider how the Wolves went about winning it, it was absolutely shocking. Kevin Love is out recovering from hand surgery. Brandon Roy and Chase Budinger are out recovering from knee surgery. Nikola Pekovic is out with a leg injury. Alexey Shved is out with a sprained ankle. Dante Cunningham missed tonight’s game with an illness.
Is there anyone left?
James Harden and the Houston Rockets are in town for a 7 PM tilt against the Wolves at Target Center.
The Rockets, having lost 6 straight, are really struggling. Immediately before their current 6-game losing streak began, Houston reeled off a 5-game winning streak. Overall, the Rockets are 21-20. They are 2nd in the League in scoring and 30th in points allowed. (Adjusted for pace, their offense is ranked 9th, defense 18th.) James Harden is still really, really good, with the League’s 5th-best scoring average, 2nd-best assist average among non-point guards, and 1st-best beard.
Streakiness, mediocrity, and working the offense almost entirely through a go-to guy – what else could you expect from a Kevin McHale-coached team?
1) WOLVES – Clearly the shooting guard position is a problem. It’s usually filled by a point guard, and never filled by a catch-and-shoot floor spreader that fits with Rubio. But is Andrei Kirilenko–a hesitant perimeter shooter himself–also a poor fit for the offense?
2) NBA – The All-Star starters were voted in by the fans. The Lakers are 17-21. The Celtics are 20-18. 4 out of 10 All-Star starters come from those two mediocre teams. Who were the worst snubs?
3) WOLVES – Pek and Shved left tonight’s game with injuries. Did those injuries have anything to do with the loss to the Chris Paul-less Clippers?
4) NBA – The list of terrible teams goes something like: Cavs, Bobcats, Wizards, Hornets, and Suns. Which has the most hope for quick improvement? The least?
The Clippers visit Minneapolis on Thursday evening. I won’t be able to see the game live. I’ll be giving a talk in Chicago, but will be following from afar, from my iPhone, as possible.
The lowdown: the Clippers are 30-9 and have been playing well; The Wolves are 16-19 and have been playing poorly. The Wolves will be lucky to win. Continue reading