Andy G: The Wolves took on LeBron James and the two-time defending champion Miami Heat last night, so they must’ve lost, right?
For the first time in approximately forever the Wolves were victors over a team with LeBron James on it. (Eds note: I think Dave or Jim on the broadcast said the last time was 2005, back about when ‘Bron was going to war with Agent Zero and Caron Butler’s Wizards in the Playoffs. How long ago does that seem?) It took a pair of overtimes, some Kevin Love and even Chase Budinger heroics (!) and every ounce of Ricky Rubio’s floor-generaling stamina, but they eked it out.
They eked it out, of course, on a missed Corey Brewer backwards alley-oop layup attempt… in which he was fouled for some reason! He made one of the free throws. Crazy ending to a crazy game.
I enjoyed it tremendously.
Patrick J: The Brewer “shot” (at about 3:20 in those highlights) was one of the most amazing I’ve ever seen that didn’t go in. You know how Corey does inexplicable stuff all the time and it’s sort of endearing and sort of grating? This was one of those times. I still don’t know (1) how he even got in position to get that shot, (2) how he formulated the idea that the shot could look like that, (3) how he managed to draw a foul call on such an ill-advised shot. But that’s just Brew.
What was more impressive was the way Ricky and, yes, everyone’s favorite new starter, Chase Budinger Gorgui Dieng played hard over long, grinding, stretches, and managed to take advantage of Miami’s weaknesses–Ricky with pocket passes and kicks (as well as a solid shooting night of his own); Gorgui taking advantage of Miami’s lack of a true center, sort of like a poor-man’s Roy Hibbert. It might’ve been a different story had Greg Oden been available, but did Gorgui expose Miami’s fatal flaw even in what wasn’t a great shooting night by his (or anyone’s) standards?
Andy G: Sort of. He definitely found his self open for dunks and continued his always-aggressive style in ways that helped the Wolves. However, LeBron was ruining shit left and right every time he was within arms reach of Gorgui. I thought a few of those “strips” were fouls, but there were so damn many of them that it was clear how LBJ can patrol the paint from a non-post position. Guy’s unbelievable.
While we’re dishing out Post Praise, Ronny Turiaf deserves some props. He played down the home stretch, really battled Birdman in the paint and even posterized him once. He was key in getting a great win.
It was one of those games that you have to appreciate just for what it was, rather than dwelling on its “meaning” (to the extent any of this really has *meaning*) in a bigger picture. The NBA season is long and we frequently feel the need to look beyond the four corners of the floor and the 48 (or 58, as the case may be) minutes of one game to find bigger-picture items for discussion.
Is Ricky improving his shot? Is K-Love checked out? How about Coach Adelman? Is one of them leaving? Both? Can Shabazz play the wing? Pekovic looks like a hitman when he’s injured, wearing a suit, but does he actually assassinate stuff after the game is over? Is Gorgui the best rookie in his class? Can we make the playoffs? Should we tank for a better draft pick? Why is J.J. Barea?
There’s an infinite list of questions at our disposal to renew our interest in the NBA Regular Season Marathon. Rare is a treat like last night’s game that was just an awesome event, in and of itself. I still remember when Steph and KG beat Michael Jordan’s Bulls. I will also long remember the time when Ricky and K-Love beat LeBron.
I was yelling a lot in my living room. I may also have been drinking.
Any other takeaways from the game?
Patrick J: A few things. And since we’re in the spirit of fandom this morning after the most meaningful meaningless win of the season, I’ll summarize them in bullet points.
- Chase Budinger: Bud replaced Kevin Martin in the starting lineup last night and looked for the first time this season like the guy we hoped we were getting when he signed that kahntract last offseason. It’s debatable whether K-Mart or Bud is the team’s least-cool player, but I’ll trade cool-guy points for wins anytime.
- Kevin Martin: It seems like the Wolves are more likely to win without him. I haven’t looked at the numb#rs, and they might prove me wrong. There’s been a lot of talk recently about how Pekovic should be dangled for ASSETS! because Gorgui is emerging and people think he’s a better K-Love complement than Pek. I get that argument from a positional logjam perspective, but if I were Flip Saunders, I’d be trying much harder to move Martin and his kahntract despite being thin at the wing. (Eds. Note: This won’t be an easy job, we know.) It’d open up more space for Bazz, Bud, Brew, and, probably, a draft pick from this year’s class on the wing, and it would promote ball movement.
- Bazz: He got hurt last night when it appeared a wrecking ball cleared the paint and sent bodies hurtling (Eds. Note: Is this a real word?) like bowling pins all over the paint and out of bounds area. The Wolves crack sidelines journo team assured us that the injury isn’t serious, so all Punch-Drunk Wolves can say is, “Get well soon, Bazz! We miss you already!”
Oh, a couple other things that fans need to be aware of:
(1) Former Gopher Rodney Williams did this: (!)
(2) Former Timberwolf Gerald Green did this: (!!)
Any parting shots from your side?
Andy G: Just that I think it’s asinine to trade Pek right now. The Wolves are blessed to have two, possibly three UPPER UPPER LEVEL big men. Love is arguably the best post player in the NBA, from an all around production standpoint. Pekovic is on the short list of the league’s best low-post scorers and offensive rebounders, and he’s a competent team defender. Gorgui, if he keeps rounding out his overall game, might be a plus big man that protects the basket and allows a Kevin Love team to be *great* (or at least very good) defensively.
Why give away a team strength?
I’m not big on Martin either. The on/off stuff is pretty good to him, but I can’t help but think some of that is the “blowouts versus bad teams” effect. I hate how slow his shooting motion is. He’s not a floor spacer.
The Wolves need better wing play and better backup point guard play. If they get one of those, they’re a 50ish win team. If they somehow get both, without losing an asset like Pekovic along the way, they could be a contender. This isn’t me saying that this will be easy, just that there’s a lot to build on; particularly if Gorgui is actually… you know, the truth.
Wolves play at Orlando tonight. CONFESSION: I won’t be watching. I’m going out with friends to watch the Final Four instead. Apparently the Wolves feed is only via radio and league pass, so I guess I can catch the Orlando feed online tomorrow morning.
Hey about the Final Four:
Coach Cal or Bo Ryan tonight?
Patrick J: Never bet against Cal. ‘nuff said? (Eds. Note: Yes.)
Enjoy the tilt tonight, for those of you diehards who have League Pass and prefer the Wolves over college basketball’s biggest stage (*cough*, me, *cough*).
4 responses to “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!! (Wolves Beat LeBron, INBOX Edition)”
Good stuff guys. Trading Martin this summer would make me pretty happy but that’s coming from a person who has never been a huge fan of his. I do appreciate that we have been desperate for wings that can shoot for a long time so trading away the one we finally got does seem like a weird move. Still, I’m for it. As for Pek, I sure won’t disagree with Andy’s overall point but I am more open to a good* Pek trade than I want to be. I love what Pek brings but I do worry about how stuck this roster seems and 12 million in flexibility is something to consider. ** As for that Corey shot, wow. I still can’t believe they put him on the line there. It was the right call but I’m surprised anyway.
* It’s the “good” part of this that gives me the most pause.
** I realize that we would then have to take 12 million or so back and I’m not thrilled about breaking up a big contract into Khantractual parts. 12 million dollars worth of all-star wing would be nice but I have ah hard time imaging that falling into our lap so I guess I don’t really have answers. I sure as hell don’t want to give Pek away just because Deing has strung together some promising games.
Good points. It’s hard to discuss Pek trade ideas without knowing who exactly might be available in a trade for him.
One thing that would make all of this a lot simpler is if Shabazz develops into a starting-caliber small forward. I feel like this has been dismissed (not by you) a little bit more than it should have. I wrote some about him the other day, and acknowledge he has some oddities in his game that might render him a career bench guy. But he also might develop his defensive instincts over time and become a reliable 36-38 percent perimeter shooter (with a quick release, very unlike K-Mart) with unusually good post moves. That would provide a cheap solution to the wing problems.
I’m sure we’ll discuss all of this a few hundred more times in the coming months.
I missed last night’s game. It appears that Love, Pek and Shabazz did as well.
“I’m sure we’ll discuss all of this a few hundred more times in the coming months.”
I’d trade Martin to the Grizzlies for Tony Allen and whatever contract junk they want the Wolves to take back.
Maybe the Grizzlies or some other analytic team will overvalue him.
As noted above, it is odd to trade Martin because this team needs shooters so badly and he is a good shooter. But, all shooting is not created equal. Seems like the Wolves need a particular type of shooter (one can dribble but doesn’t need to have the ball to be effective; one that can play some defense against SG/SF; one that can shoot effectively from the corner and at least one other spot on catch and shoot).
It seems like Martin (diminishing but still present) skill of drawing fouls off the dribble is not as valuable on a team that needs to have the ball in Rubio’s hands more and has other foul drawing machines in Love and Pek.
Further, and sadly, the lack of solid defense at the 3 (Brewer!) makes solid defense at the 2 more valuable.
I know that steals are way more valuable than we think, but it makes sense to me that with gamblers at the 1 and 3, a team would like to have a solid non-gambler at the 2. Why? I believe in diminishing returns. How can it be good to have all 3 non-bigs be either gamblers or matadors (i.e., effectively a gambler with no steals)? That suggests all five players should just go for steals all the time. Houston should try that in the d-league.
Great stuff as always here.