Kevin McHale (Photo: The Chronicle, Thomas B. Shea)
For a recap of tonight’s one-sided loss to the Houston Rockets, click here.
For even more detail, click on any number of the excellent blogs in the right column.
For some observations, questions, and ramblings from a frustrated fan who sat through the entire game, see the following.
Kevin McHale’s Rockets are now 10-7. If the season ended as I write this, they’d be the 8th seed in the Western Conference Playoffs.
One season ago, the Rockets were not a playoff team under the Wolves’ heralded coach, Rick Adelman.
No knock on Adelman. But Kevin McHale might be a decent coach.
McHale’s squad oozes confidence like his Wolves teams did in that middle part of the 2008-09 season, post-Wittman, pre-Jefferson injury. For an entire month, Mac led that talentless group to the best record in the NBA–not too shabby.
Kyle Lowry is playing particularly well under McHale. Kyle messed around and got a triple-double against the Wolves, dropping 16, 10, and 10 and giving Ricky Rubio fits in the process. You could say he had a Good Day (NSFW depending on where you W).
Kevin Martin versus Wayne Ellington
Did I ever think I’d miss Wesley Johnson?
No. I’ve spent most of the season wondering how much better the Wolves would be without him.
I’m trying to square that with what happened tonight, when dream became reality.
Wayne had an EMBARRASSING night. Martin ran him off of screens, spun him in circles, drew fouls, and buried jump shots. All. Night. Long.
K-Mart had 21 at the half and made it look oh-so-easy. Parents with aspiring ballplayer kids should have them watch Martin move without the ball. Just don’t let them watch him shoot–that unconventional and ugly stroke works for one guy and one guy only.
Kevin Love (the good)
K-Love was 5 for 5 from downtown tonight. He had 39 points. He shot 13 for 19. Love should shoot as many threes as he possibly can.
In fact, Love should emulate the one PF in the league who gives him matchup problems–Ryan Anderson. Anderson is shooting 9.1 3PA’s per 36 minutes (compared to Love’s 4.7), and rocks a 24.9 PER. Not bad for the 21st Pick in the 2008 Draft. Love’s foul-drawing and rebounding are huge parts of his game, but he is noticeably-hesitant to pull the trigger on 3s. Not as much in tonight’s game, and 39 points later, I hope he builds on a great scoring night.
Kevin Love (the bad)
I won’t lie: I hate the way Kevin Love tries to draw most of his fouls. He isn’t making basketball plays. He’s wrestling–sometimes without any hope for a real play–and he gasps in disbelief when refs DARE not to call a foul. Meanwhile, the other team is often running out for a secondary or primary break.
There are good ways to draw fouls. LeBron James ATTACKS when he draws fouls. If a foul isn’t called, a shot goes up that might actually go in. He might dunk over somebody. He might find a shooter for three.
But when Love’s antics don’t work, at best he retains his balance and finds a playmaker like Anthony Tolliver or Wayne Ellington with 4 on the shot clock.
Good luck. With that.
Love is already getting star treatment from the stripes at an early age, and this is good for the team in the broader scheme of things. But this is my subjective pet peeve about how the game should be played. It isn’t fun to watch and it should be increasingly ineffective if rule changes are enforced.
Derrick Williams Starts! (At the wrong position…)
Wes Johnson was sick, so D-Thrill started. Thrill got 37 minutes, but went long stretches in the 3rd without touching the ball. He played outside the three point line for much of the night. His 11-point, 7-rebound, 4-turnover performance (3-9 shooting, 5-8 FT’s) was not a success. He was fouled at least twice (making real basketball plays while going extremely STRONG to the cup) without a whistle. Thrill’s a scoring power forward. Where does he fit? (NOT rhetorical.)
A couple other thoughts on Williams:
*His free-throw shooting has been problematic–65 percent is unsatisfactory for a player as skilled as Williams.
*Adelman should work to incorporate Thrill’s interior game with Love’s perimeter game. It’s obvious that this is where each guy has the most to offer offensively.
Auditioning for Centers
Adelman stuck Anthony Randolph out there, after an extended, non-injury-related leave of absence the previous two games. In 11 minutes, AR15 chipped in 9 points (4-8 FG, 1-1 FT) and 5 rebounds.
For various reasons, most notably that he fits in better with Rubio’s passing skills, I’d like to see Randolph take ALL of the Darko and Pekovic minutes.
Sure, those guys are heavier and will defend certain players better than Randolph. But Randolph will finish plays that should be finished, he can get his shot against anybody, and he is an aggressive rebounder.
Heading into tonight’s game, he was third on the team in points per 36 minutes (17.2) and second in FG% (52.0) (to be fair, Pek leads at a mighty 60.7).
Randolph will have his moments when he self-combusts and needs a break. But so do Darko and Pek. Randolph is the least-bad option at center right now and the harm in giving the most-talented of the three more minutes is unknown to me.
Let’s hope for a better one on Wednesday at Dallas. The champs are playing better than they were early in the season when the Wolves thumped them at Target Center.
Season Record: 7-10