I attended the Wolves vs. Jazzy Jazz last night at Target Center and really had a delightful time with my friend Troy. We got free tickets to the game from a T-Wolves front office guy… cool story: front office guy was in a group of dudes getting Andrea Pizza in the skyways (near LaSalle Ave… get the BBQ Pizza. D-I-V-I-N-E), and they needed Troy to move so they could all sit together. Troy obliged, and before he left the Front Office Guy offered him Wolves tickets. Score!
Anyway, I really enjoyed the game. In fact, it might have been the best 36 minutes of Minnesota basketball I've watched all year long (closed my eyes for the rest). Wes Johnson was more aggressive on the perimeter, and Martell Webster was a freaking revelation off the bench. Sixteen points in 25 minutes? Yes! It was clear he was told to put the ball in the basket last night, or that he's becoming more comfortable in his role… Webster played with a lot of fire, and I was impressed.
Kevin Love played with his usual nonchalant-yet-strikingly-efficient disposition, putting up 25 points and 19 rebounds. It continues to astound me how easily Love racks up boards when others find it so difficult. The thing is, he's either making it look really easy, or it actually is really easy. Seems like half his caroms fall into his hands off the rim, or come after the entire opposing starting five has made their way downcourt. And the outside shooting on top of all this… he's become an elite player before our eyes, and the weird thing is that no one is able to stop him without giving a ridiculous amount of ground to other players (see: Darko's best game of the year… 11/19 vs. Lakers when Love scored zero points).
Also, I'm trying to decide on Kevin Love's nickname… either "The Optometrist" (he makes you see 20/20) or a sleek, shortened version… "Lasik". Your thoughts?
Of course, there's the elephant-in-the-room issue of a flaming diaper of a fourth quarter, but I think we all knew this bad boy was going to slip through our grasp. Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson combined to shoot 20-of-33 from the field for 46 points (mostly in the paint), and Deron Williams shot like crap, but got into the lane with ease and made 13-of-14 free throws. Basically, our interior defense was so undisciplined and insufficient that we didn't have a choice but to fall apart. You'll notice in the box score that Darko fouled out in 24 minutes, while Love and Martell Webster each had five fouls. Would have been nice to insert Pekavic into the game instead of Kosta Koufos, but his hack-a-big tendencies wouldn't have played well either.
It was a disappointing game, but an entertaining one, at least (as promised by Kahn!).
A few other notes:
*I really hope Jonny Flynn is rusty and needs time to work on things, because when he played last night, the team was stagnant. Just awful. Had bad turnovers and isn't seeing open guys. Luke Ridnour's starting job is absolutely safe right now.
*I booed Al Jefferson, but only because so many people were cheering and I wanted to balance it out. I actually love the guy.
*Beasley needs to attack the damned rim. He's pissing me off with his settle-for-jumper routine. Shots are falling right now, but this crap won't last. He did shoot eight free throws last night, however.
*It's pretty clear Darko is still kinda hurt, and that he was overmatched with two active post players. Big Al and Paul Millsap terrorized him.
*As much as people hate Luke Ridnour, he's the best point guard on the roster right now. He's a decent shooter and has both the court vision and willingness to provide those around him with easier shots. Had a highlight-reel pass last night too, for good measure.
*The Jazz made 37 free throws (44 attempts). The Wolves attempted 29 free throws (made 23).
Thanks for reading! And if you want more conversation, take it to the forum (or comment below!).