TWolves fall to OKC in the second night of a back-to-back, 111 - 103
Wow, a second really good game against two really top teams. And they were back-to-back with traveling involved, as well. Gotta say I enjoyed it again. Who would have thought we would ever played OKC and Dallas that close without K-Lav? What does that say about not having him out there? It's definitely not good for K-Lav apologists, no offense. We were in both games very late, only down 2 points at times (with 1 minute left in Dallas, and in the end of the 3rd against OKC.) The Wolves, dare I say it, actually looked like a much better team, and more of what (I think) Rhombus envisioned) without K-Lav in the mix.
Ok everyone, Randolph is legit. A question was posited in the TWolves Blog forums, and I explained it my response in detail here, in response to forum user "9Deuce." Here's how I responded:
Sure looks like he is [legit.] AR can do it all, and you can tell that he has tons and tons of natural talent. I don't know if I have seen anyone that tall with soooooo much talent since a young KG. And I'm not even kidding here, his skills are unreal. It's just a question of if he will get the minutes on the court, and if he has the right attitude to maximize his potential, and play within a team game.
So far, the past two games he has done all that and more. Creates his own shot, hitting jumpers, rebounding, playing D, scoring baskets in all kinds of ways, making better passes than anyone else on our team, and dribbling like a PG. He can pretty much do it all.
Yes, I think he's pretty legit. Too bad it took Rhombus until now to figure out he should get minutes. Fool.
Can we trade Love to OKC for Ibaka and Harden? That's probably one of the better deals we would get at this point? K-Lav's sky-high trade value can't get any higher in my opinion, and will only go down from here on out. Especially with him being hurt, his double-double streak and subsequent national media slobbering of attention being over, and the fact that I don't think he wants to be here and will be wanting a max contract extension. Love fits in great on OKC, and we'd get nice value in return with Ibaka (huge STUD!), Harden (a baller), and perhaps draft picks or something? Ibaka is great; he plays D, rebounds, blocks shots, hits jumpers, is tough inside... what a solid defensive-minded big man, especially as it currently stands with him on OKC next to Durant and Perkins.
For the record, Randolph had 45 & 15 in Love’s place and '+/-' of +6 in an 8 point loss with Randolph playing 37 minutes. Of course, our bench gave away the game, which wouldn’t have played with Love. Our starters actually outscored OKC, but were decimated whenever AR went to the bench. Two games in a row now in which we performed much better than expected without K-Lav, AND the starting unit performed better with AR than the aforementioned Love in the game.
Our starters played well overall, and had much better stats this game than against Dallas. Well, except Beasley and his 3 month long (and running) slump. He missed 10 shots out of 18, had 7 turnovers, and 4 fouls. But his issues are another story for another day. And again, we were in this one. In the third, after being down 16 points and 10 at half-time, Rhombus went with a crazy lineup of:
... and it worked! With Love out, it's the hugest, longest, most athletic, and awesome the TWolves could possibly field. These guys rolled off a 15-4 run, and we came back to within 2 points. Really, they were just playing some great and frenetic basketball. The defense was on point, and OKC couldn't really answer. Beasley was the SG! Tolliver was playing superb D against Durant. In fairness, Durant did hit two huge threes towards the end of the quarter and at the buzzer. Still, I was loving it. To Rhombus' credit, he went back to this lineup again in the fourth quarter after giving our backup backups some minutes. That lineup was fun to see. What was not fun to see was our super backups coming in and squandering all the goodwill. Flynn, Ellington, Pekovic, and Hayward gave all that away, and the Wolves were back down 10 before you knew it.
Man, I really love OKC. If I could only watch all the games of 1 team in the NBA, it would be really hard to pick between OKC and Boston. I like all their players, and they are pretty much the perfect team. They've got a prototypical stud young PG in Westbrook. Durant is of course, the man and the unquestioned alpha leader. They've got a lockdown defender in Thabo. They've got 3 point specialist in Cook, and a super sub 6th man in James Harden. They have size to bang with any team in the league (Ibaka, Perkins, Nazr Mohammed, Nick Collison, and Cole Aldrich.) And of course, all these guys compliment each other PERFECTLY. On top of all this, they will still (most likely) have cap room to spare next summer, depending on the new CBA/salary cap rules. Sam Presti is a genius. He's the best at what he does.
I don't know what there is to not like about these guys. I hope they can make some noise in the playoffs, although the Lakers seem to be back and are playing crazy awesome since the AS break. The Lakers and Celtics have to be the favorites right now to make the Finals again. Perhaps Chicago, but their offense is only average, and tends to sputter at times. Good defensive teams like Boston can stop them by packing the paint and daring them to shoot from the outside. That really negates a lot of Rose's greatness.
Anyways, a solid game all around. We better bring K-Lav back soon, or else we might blow our second worst pick draft position by winning games if he stays out of the rest of the season...