Game 10: Wolves 112, Knicks 103
I’ll start off by saying this: What the hell happened Friday night?
I left town and missed my first game of the year and Love and the Wolves punished me in a big way for it. I checked in from time to time but stopped once I saw that the Knicks had taken a commanding lead of 16 points, midway through the fourth quarter.
Once last check to see the final later that night and my body was succumbed by an outright shockwave. Not only did the Wolves win, but the fashion in which it came was astonishing — those sorts of comebacks aren’t all too common in Minnesota basketball, as you probably know.
Never should one pin a solid comeback like that on the shoulders of one man, but in this case, why not pin it on two?
Michael Beasley and Kevin Love had a field day in the second half. Seriously, these guys were on fire. The 49-19 run they staged in the second half after being 21 points down is astounding given the tone of game the Knicks had already set, and it was mostly in-part with Beasley and Love’s superb play. Beasley strung together two consecutive games where his psychotic mind games didn’t get the best of him and played like he well-deserved #2 overall draft pick. Beasley’s playing like a man-possessed — sounds fitting — and is making defenders pay for it with ferocious cuts towards the hoop that don’t end well for most opposing teams.
I think Love played like he thought he was the best player in the world — not really, but when you post numbers somewhat comparable to that of Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, you have to ponder it. But the intensity Love played with simply hasn’t been seen before. Ben Polk from AWAW describes his attitude and the moment like this:
What was really stunning for me was watching Love in the third quarter as his heavy energy began to surge and his reddening face assumed a certain fixed, manic glow. He was on such a different plane of desire and purpose than anyone else (especially any Knick) that he almost seemed to be all alone on the floor, bathed in some strange light. Look at the highlights. Watch him hold off three Knicks at once and pull the ball down with one hand; watch him ferociously pursue every carom and tip; watch him out-jump Amar’e Stoudemire; watch him grab every single rebound.
Love outplayed Stoudemire as if he was just some scrub playing on ball on the school grounds. Rather, Stoudemire is one of the highest-paid players in our game today and was assuredly beaten by Love on each and every possession. That doesn’t happen too often.
Assuming these sorts of efforts continue, it’s not so farfetched to agree with Love’s early season prediction of 30 wins. This team has what it takes to compete with the best in the league but just needs the right type of performance on a nightly basis to keep it even — I think that’s called consistency, a dreaded word, feared by most teams spewing with youth and inexperience. Tonight was one of those efforts; Everything fell into place in harmony, giving the fans a soothing sensation, one we haven’t felt in years, or ever, really.
This is one of those wins that should sustain some confidence going forward…
Game 11 Recap:
Despite facing a fading Atlanta Hawks team that has lost four in a row, the Wolves couldn’t continue their winning ways and knock off the Hawks from their high perch.
But today’s game wasn’t a lost hope. We still saw everything that sparked that last two wins play a major part in keeping this one closer than it should’ve been.
Kevin Love, while being mismatched against quicker, more athletic defenders in Josh Smith and Al Horford, posted yet another double-double of 20-15 or better. This being the least flashy of the past three performances shouldn’t take away from his accomplishments lately. Love’s been playing with more passion and energy lately. He’s stepping up and being that go-to guy we need down the stretch. Today he played 40 minutes. I’m not so sure I’ve ever seen Love play that many minutes in a 4-quarter game before, and that’s frankly a damn shame. He’s proving time and time again that he deserves to be on the court at the opportune moments to grab that defensive board, or make that tip-in off a missed jumper. His defensive lapses happen from time to time but he’s starting to make up for it in a big way. He’s the best player on this team.
But giving Love a strong run for being #1 is Michael Beasley himself. The sometimes psychotic Beasley has the ability to let his head get ahead of himself and that’s where we run into troubles: the poor, off-balanced jumpers; the lack of effort on defense; the mouthing off to teammates and officials — and the rim when he’s at the free throw line. It’s clear that Beasley is starting to succeed when he attacks the rim, creating his own shot. He wasn’t able to do this at Miami. It wasn’t his role to attack the rim and create opportunities off of that when Dwayne Wade is on the team. It’s a completely different story with the Timberwolves because we’ve been missing this kind of player since the start of the franchise. I think our prayers were finally answered on this one.
So, the Wolves are now 3-8. Not too shabby. We’ve played some difficult squads including the Hawks twice now. All the Wolves need to do now is sustain some of the confidence going forward . . . Now I’m just repeating myself.