Game 31: Wolves 101, Wizards 89


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Wolves Record: 7-24

Box Scores: ESPN, HoopData Advanced Box Score, Popcorn GameFlow

Recaps: AP Recap, Star Tribune Recap

Opponets Recaps: Truth About It, Bullets Forever

Dunk of the Night:

 

 

 

I’ve got lot’s of thoughts on this one since I was able to catch it in person. It’s always great to see things first hand and with some good seats on the center court line in the upperdeck I had a great view to analyze player movement on both offense and defense.

First of all it’s hard to celebrate a W, even when it’s the first 2 game winning streak since forever (really last April), when your team shoots a remarkable 40% eFG%. How did the Wolves win by 12 regardless? They killed the Wizards in the other 3 factors, TO’s, FT Rate, and most especially O-Reb %. And as much as I’d love to give the W to the Wolves it’s much more accurate to give the L to the Wizards. 12 assits just doesn’t cut it in the NBA. Neither does giving up 19 offensive rebounds regardless of Kevin Love banging the boards. I can tell you one thing Wolves fans, it’s certainly better to be a Wolves fans this morning than a Wizards fan.

On to the game observations:

The first thing that jumped out to me in the first quarter was some of the first trips down the floor on offense for the Wolves. Perimeter players not effectively using screens up top from the frontcourt. Specifically a number of plays with Jefferson setting picks for either Flynn and Brewer. Half-hearted picks with half-hearted use of those picks. It’s hard to argue against the triangle and for a pick and roll based offense when you don’t run the PNR with any passion. Perhaps Jefferson is just the wrong guy to drag away from the hoop because a couple of the PNR’s with Love were more effective.

Another thing I noticed that didn’t please me was the Wolves defense of the PNR. A number of times Flynn and Sessions went under screens set for Arenas. Luckily Arenas was off for most of the night (he heated up a for a stretch in the 3rd) and was mostly George Foreman grille instead of his self-proclaimed “Hibachi!”  That being said the Wolves defense wasn’t spectacular but neither was the Wizards offense.

Perhaps the most important observation I had was that the Wolves need to run a lot more offense through Kevin Love instead of Al Jefferson. For all his great foot-work, soft hands, ball fakes and baby one handed turn around jump hooks, Al cannot pass out of a double team to save his life. Love on the other hand does a lot of good things with the ball in his hands. As I tweeted mid-game:

Great find by Love of Sessions underneath for layup. Then Love lays it in next pos. No question the #Twolves should be posting Love up more.

I have to say seeing the Wolves run more of the Triangle through Love would be a really good thing. And it might even make everything easier for Jefferson to boot.

Having ripped on Corey Brewer for his shooting all season I need to weigh in after seeing it in person.  Brewer’s shot in the second half looked much better and as good as I’ve seen it all season: he was balanced and had great form especially while getting his 9 points in the third quarter. I think it was mostly a result of him knowing that they were going to continue to give him the outside shot (the Wiz did it all game, it’s a pretty easy scouting report folks) and as a result he found opportunities in rythum instead of in his usual way of either forcing shots in too little of time or being so open he takes too much time. Don’t let the season high 27 fool you though as 8-9 from the line came down the stretch when Washington was fouling to keep the game going. It was a solid game from Corey and all we can ask from him but not as spectacular as the box score may make it look.

Speaking of the box score take a look at Damien Wilkins line. All game I couldn’t help but think that Wilkins is definitely someone the Wolves need to resign in the offseason. I knew he wasn’t scoring much but he did an excellent job doing the little things, rebounding, staying with plays, frustrated Butler into a 3-9 off night, and ended up with a game high +17 in +/-  for the Wolves all while shooting 1-10 from the floor. All of those shots I will point out were either open mid-range jumpers or getting stuck with the ball at the end of the shot clock and having to force it a bit. Let’s just say when he was getting the ball open I wasn’t holding my breath like I do with Brewer. After thinking about how he some how had a good game on the way home even though he was ice cold from the floor I was happy to see the +17 at the end of the box score. My eyes didn’t deceive me, when Wilkins was on the court the Wolves were playing well.

Other observations:

  • From my 9-year old sister who plays basketball and was taking notes in her “journal” (a future blogger at heart): “Free Throws -  Them, pretty good. Us, not so good.” Luckily it didn’t cost us the game but I really can’t say why Sessions is shooting so poorly from the stripe and the team as a whole seems to be constantly leaving easy points at the line.
  • From my wife who really isn’t a basketball fan: “Who’s the guy with the stick legs? I’m a little worried about him.” And no she wasn’t talking about Boykins.
  • Seriously people you cannot promote to me a nice nostalgic Hardwood Classic jersey game and then let the Wizards fail to bring their whites. The Wizards should be forced to pay a fine that goes to refund all of us MN fans or they just should have gone 5th grade on and forced them to wear white pennies.
  • Flynn and Ellington were +8 together for a nice stretch. Wouldn’t mind seeing the two of them a little more together to see if they can build some chemistry. I think Ellington can be productive in the L with continued playing time.
  • Sessions impressed me with his rebounding, especially on the offensive glass, even though it was against Boykins, Arenas, and Foye. That being said he didn’t do anything else that stood out to me in terms of him or Flynn being better. I wouldn’t trade him for nothing by any means, but I also wouldn’t mind leveraging his value if we could get another nice piece in return.

A few parting shots I’ll leave you with: one more reason it’s better to be a Wolves fan than a Wizards fan right now is simply that there isn’t anyone on their team I would want the Wolves to trade for.

And man is it good to not have to talk myself into that Randy Foye guy anymore.