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The 180 I’m referring to doesn’t just relate to the result. Tonight’s tilt offered a number of different aspects that the Wolves were unable to pull off last night against the Lakers.
Let’s start with Kevin Love. Against the Lakers’ heavy-hitting frontline, Love had a tough time getting anything going inside. Sure the refs ate their whistles a lot of the time, but they did indeed match his intensity and hustle — he couldn’t make shots either — which is required to do against such a beastly presence inside. It’s pretty adamant that the Pistons lack the depth inside to contain such a large mass of manliness and tonight only proved that. Chalk up yet another 20-20 for Senor Amor, as he was the driving force to tonight’s victory.
Another reason for tonight’s complete 180 comes from the point guard play. Last night, neither Luke Ridnour or Jonny Flynn came to play; they looked flat and just out there in the emotion of the game. Tonight, they made plays, simply put. Ridnour was firing the ball at a perfect clip, going 5-of-5 from the field for 15 points. He only dished out one assist, but that’s where Flynn comes in. If I told you that Flynn had 14 assists and only two turnovers, would you believe me? If I would’ve told you this 1-2 months ago, would you have tried to hunt me down with a vengeance? Flynn played one of the best games I’ve ever seen in his young career. And although some may think he still looks like a blind squirrel out there, he looks more comfortable in the offense and understands that his role isn’t to score; it’s to set teammates up and make the best decision possible. He did that tonight.
Along with Flynn’s exquisite play, the reserves made a complete turnaround. Anthony Randolph, Lazar Hayward and Anthony Tolliver stepped into their roles and commanded this game. In the second quarter, Randolph took matters into his own hands, charging the lane and drawing all sorts of contact. His defense is still suspect but when you nearly put up a 20-10 line off the bench, who cares? Especially in the flow of this type of game. What I particularly love about Randolph’s game is his aggressiveness. He attacks loose balls and then puts that thing on the floor and flies down court like some quick-handling guard. If his jumper starts to develop and he doesn’t look so bewildered on defense, we could’ve pulled off the trade of the century.
With Flynn and Randolph anchoring the reserve squad, Tolliver and Hayward both fit in well. They both played to the flow of the game and never showed any real weakness, or ever tried to force anything to happen. They sat back, let Flynn and Randolph work their games and were there if all else broke down.
Nearly everything was different about this game. Nearly. It’s obvious that our very own Michael Beasley is seriously struggling. He’s reminding me an awful lot of a black hole; whenever the ball swings his way, no one should count on getting it back. Usually the remedy to a cold shooting touch would be putting yourself in better positions to make high-percentage shots. Instead, Beasley’s been fixing to settle for off-balanced jumpers from beyond the arc. Even when he attacks the hoop it hasn’t looked nearly as smooth as it was earlier this year. There’s no doubt that the man has some maturing to do but there’s also no doubt that he needs to produce at a more efficient rate if he indeed is the scoring threat we thought he was.
This was a big win. Road wins are damn-near impossible to come by, so this was a real treat. (Quick side note: The Detroit Pistons are nearly a more forsaken team than the Wolves. Outside of Greg Monroe and possible Rodney Stuckey, this team has no real core to ride into a new era. A disgruntled Rip Hamilton, an injury-riddled Tayshaun Prince and a severely overweight Charlie Villanueva are no where close to an answer in D-Town. It’s truly a shame that the city, and it’s sports teams, are crumbling before our eyes.)
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