Many clutch plays contributed to tonight’s close win over the soon-to-be Pelicans of New Orleans. Ricky Rubio cut a 4-point deficit to 1 when he made a layup — and one — with under a minute to play. Shortly before that, Rubio chased down Al Farouq Aminu to foul him and prevent a layup and two points off of Ricky’s own turnover. Aminu missed both free throws, keeping the Wolves in the game. When Eric Gordon found himself on an island with Luke Ridnour and the ball in his hands, the Wolves’ 1-point lead appeared in serious jeopardy. That is, until Andrei Kirilenko came flying in from out of nowhere to swat away Gordon’s runner and corral the rebound in what seemed like one motion. And Nikola Pekovic made a pair of free throws with the game on the line to give the Wolves that lead in the first place. All of these plays led to a St. Patty’s win before the home crowd. But these plays were not the biggest story of the game; the one most easily molded into narrative.
The big story from tonight’s win is that Derrick Williams looked the part of a second overall pick; one that was drafted high to be a go-to scorer. Williams had a career-high 28 points and scored in the most efficient ways: three-pointers, free throws and shots at the rim. Here’s Williams’ shot chart via espn.com:
D-Thrill began his groove in the closing possessions of the opening quarter when he racked up a quick 8 points to give the Wolves a lead after trailing by double digits early on. From that point forward he looked locked in, wanting the ball to score. Late in the game, with Rubio barking out orders, the Wolves centered key possessions around getting Williams the ball with room to operate.
The shot chart shows that he took 3 three-pointers from the corners and made 2 of them. Williams does not normally shoot threes from the corners. Per nba.com he’s only attempted 32 of them all season which amounts to 0.82 attempts per 36 minutes. (As a team the Wolves only shoot 4.3 corner threes per game, which is 7th lowest in the league.) Perhaps one point of focus for the final quarter of the season can be setting up the most efficient jump shot in pro basketball, and perhaps Williams can be one of the guys to shoot it.
One great scoring night does not override season of mediocrity. Williams needs to do this [way] more often before I and I suspect most Wolves fans will get excited about his prospects as a potential star scorer. But we deal with these things game by game here, and tonight he played one hell of one. Here’s hoping Derrick can channel whatever guided him to efficiency and productivity tonight in future games and look the part of a bigtime scorer. Even if his best years may not be in Minnesota — with a healthy handed Kevin Love standing in his way — if Williams can put together this type of performance with consistency his trade value will rise and everybody will be happier for it.
Season Record: 23-41