So here we go for round two of the report card. Night class was in session today in Detroit.
To recap a game that wasn’t recapped here on twolvesblog.com, the Wolves stank against Miami. In an unfortunately fitting way, the wolves followed my “Fire & Ice” post, by performing at their iciest ever. Of course it makes some sense. Any team playing without their MVP candidate is bound to struggle. Especially against a top NBA defense. But, come on now! This is the Timberwolves were talking about! How can this year’s team shoot the worst of all wolves teams! Twenty-nine percent (rounded up) from the field is absolutely despicable.
Moving on. It seemed like the wolves were bound for a hot night offensively, and that’s exactly what we saw coming away with a twenty-seven point victory on the road. With the way the East stacks up against the West in the NBA this year, it would have been a serious disappointment if the wolves would have let this one slip away. Thankfully, they were able to put together on of their hot shooting nights, weather a couple of runs, and navigate Detroit’s switch to zone defense enough to come away with a big win.
On to the grades.
Ricky Rubio: (15 pts, 9ast, 2stls, 5-9 FGs, 0 Tos, in 28 mins) Grade: A+
Against Detroit Ricky was pretty darn good. He scored the ball, shot the ball well and dropped some fantastic dimes. Sometimes it seems that Ricky is not assertive enough. Last year, when the injuries piled up, Rubio was our guy. In order to compete, he had to assert himself on the court. It seems that sometimes on good teams with complex offensive systems and world class offensive weapons (Spain’s National teams, Barcelona, and now the wolves), Ricky’s teams get somewhat lost in the shuffle if he’s not assertive. He used his entire bag of tricks against he Pistons. He went to the rim, hit some shots with good elevation on his jumper, and did everything we want him to do and didn’t give the ball away.
Kevin Martin: (18 pts, 4 stls, 3-5 treys, game hight +21, in 30 mins) Grade: A
Even with a slow start Kevin Martin also did everything the wolves ask of him. He hit his shots, most notably draining two threes on back to back possessions in the run when the wolves stretched the lead for the last time. K-mart also managed to come up with four steals. He didn’t light it up like he is capable of, but this is exactly the kind of game wolves fans have been looking for in the role of Kevin’s wingman in the scoring column.
Corey “Chaos” Brewer: (11 pts, 4 asts, 1 TD, 1 HD, in 28 mins) Grade: B
Corey played a solid game. This is evidenced by his +21 +/- rating. Though he shot one of five from down town and didn’t come up with his usual bounty of steals, a B grade is definitely fitting. He got buckets in other ways and created some as well. (By the way, TD stands for Touch Down off of a K-love outlet pass, and HD stands for Hammer Dunk which he had off of a sweet cut-after-inbound play)
Kevin Love: (26 pts, 16 Rebs, 6 Orebs, 7 asts, 4-6 treys, in 30 mins) Grade: A+
Honest, can a guy play much better of a game. That stat line is unbelievable. Dishing out seven dimes, hitting with that efficiency from beyond the arch and battling on the glass with one of the biggest and brauniest front courts in the world, Kevin Love came out with a highlight real for his MVP candidacy. Rounding out this awesome effort was Kevin’s willingness to take a charge on big bruiser Andre Drummond. Great game from Love, but I nearly down graded him to an A=/2 due to getting blocked on a dunk attempt, but I resolved to give credit where credits due. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: that was a great play. Kevin: Two hands for safety.
Nikola Pekovic: (18pts, 5 rebs, 7-14 FGs, in 32 mins) Grade: B)
Pek did pretty well tonight, especially early. He got a big dunk, and started the game four of four. Twolves radio TV guys did a great job commenting on Pekovic’s shot distribution all coming in the restricted area. Still, shooting fifty percent from point blank range isn’t anything to really cheer about or congratulate. Nonetheless it was fun to watch the Bruise Brothers (K-Love and Pek) out play the “Bash/Smash/I have no idea” Brothers (Monroe and Drummond). Props to Pek, while this game wasn’t stellar, it’s what we paid for. Woo Hoo.
Bench Bright Spots:
J.J. Barea: (10 pts, 6ast, 4-8 FGs, 0 Tos, in 17 mins) Grade: A
This game, Barea was a great NBA point guard. He scored the ball and dished it out. He made some great plays while the game was still close were he asserted himself and got to the hoop like only he can. But what really won J.J. this A grade was the zero in the turnover column. He’s a wild player and for him to not turn the ball over once in seventeen minutes is huge.
Dante Cunningham: (6 pts, 3 stls, 8 rebs, in 25 mins) Grade: B+
It was certainly not the flashiest performance, but his effort in his role was uncanny good. Dante plays good defense, rebounds the ball and only takes the shots he can make. Against the Pistons’ front court the Wolves needed to step up on the glass in a big way and Dante brought it all night in that regard.
Robbie Hummel: (8 pts, 2 Orebs, 4-6 FGs in 10 mins) Grade: B+
Finally role player Robbie had a good shooting night. Coming out of training camp Adelman kept saying how Robbie Hummel always seems to be in the right place. This guy knows how to play basketball. The ball seems to find him.
As for the rest of the bench, no body really stood out, Surprisingly Shved got some minutes early on, highlight: a very nice touch pass to Kevin early on. One key to this game really way the way that the players on the bench played their roles. I already highlighted Barea, Dante, and Hummel. We didn’t see any rouge play from any of these guys. They played their roles adequately at worst and let the Kevins, Pek and Ricky do what they do.
Another key to the game was the free throw shooting disparity. The wolves nearly made twice as many free throws as Detroit took (Minnesota shooting twenty-eight of thirty-three and Detroit going a dismal eight of sixteen from the stripe). This is quite a surprising stat on the road. It seems that teams usually get more calls on their home court, but the wolves were getting the calls tonight. The wolves coaching staff made a point post game to mention the importance of forcing the Pistons to shoot over them. They sagged down, contested the shots that Detroit took and played defense without fouling. This really was a recipe for a good win. Thirty-one assists compared to twelve turnovers. Winning the rebounding battle forty-six to thirty-nine. Shooting 45% from behind the arch and through most of the game shooting 50% from the field.
Leader of the Pack: There is no doubt that in this game Kevin Love stole the show. He came back from a one game departure and reminded us just how much firepower he can put into this team, he did it all.
Great game Wolves: Don’t step outside when you get home, I don’t want you guys to get cold again...
You are right....hot/cold...hot/cold....Man. The Wolves shot the worst single game percentage in team history against MIami, only to completely throttle an underperforming, but rather talented Detroit team.
A confidence builder. Win this game tonight vs. Philly and the ship could be turning around, at least in the short term.