After the Cleveland game, it was easy to rant and rage against a bad effort by the Wolves. It was disappointing to see them come out flat. It was frustrating to see them take a team lightly.
Unfortunately, there are no easy answers tonight, just one simple question: WHY wouldn’t the ball go in the hoop?
The defense was decent, but nothing earth shattering. The Raptors clogged the paint well, keeping the Wolves from getting easy layups in their half court offense and preventing Kevin Love from getting put backs. But whenever the Wolves wanted a good look at a three or a jump shot within 20 feet, they were able to find their spot. That damn ball just wouldn’t go in.
The main culprit tonight was Love. Love was 3-16 from the field, and an uncharacteristic 5-10 from the line. Again, fatigue didn’t really seem to be the issue, although it’s impossible to know for sure.
Lost among Love’s incredible stats so far this season is the fact that, despite his gaudy scoring numbers, Love’s footwork in the post actually leave quite a bit to be desired. He settles for threes too often, without really making an attempt to score down low. And while his three point numbers for the season are impressive, a power forward who claims to be the best power forward in the league, and who is about to make max money, should be able to do both.
Of course, I still believe that the Wolves will (and should) offer him the max immediately. And before I can make it sound like I’m criticizing him any more than I should for a night that is almost certainly going to be an aberration, let’s get to some bullet points.
- I’m still hesitant to utterly trust +/- stats, but today they are too glaring to ignore. The starters’ combined +/- was a little unbelievable: -95. The bench was +45. I mean…come on. It would be one thing if the bench was actually getting more minutes, but the starters played 126 combined minutes, and the bench 114. I still trust Adelman more than I trust myself or any other armchair analyst out there, but for most of the third quarter, the Wolves were getting destroyed with their starters in. Then Barea entered the game near the end of the quarter and almost single-handedly managed to get the Wolves from 12 points down to 4. I just don’t understand why he came out and Luke Ridnour came back in, unless limiting Barea’s minutes was a requirement today. If that was the case, fair enough.
- Anthony Randolph did that Anthony Randolph thing where he showed flashes of the star player he COULD be before becoming a non-factor again. For roughly 5 minutes of game time, he was the most dominant player on the court. He was hitting from the outside, drawing charges, and contributing the highlight of the game, for either team. Honestly, between Randolph and Beasley, the Wolves have more unfulfilled promise than entire draft classes.
- A related note: as pointed out by Toronto’s announcers, if Rubio wins the Rookie of the Year award, he will be the third player for the ’09 draft class to win it. Not a strong selling point for the classes of 2010 and 2011.
- Can someone explain to me why it enrages me so much whenever Andrea Bargnani scores? He’s 7’0 tall and he can consistently stroke the ball from three point range. He appears to have developed some post moves over the extended summer. You would think I would be used to him putting the ball in the basket by now. But somehow, I’ve never quite adjusted. Anyway.
- 18 turnovers. 33% from the field. 29% from the three point line. I know what you are thinking. “18 turnovers? Wow, somehow it felt like even more than that.” I agree, actually. Whenever the Wolves really needed something to happen, it felt like they were forcing the issue rather than trusting in their offense. We can take some heart from those numbers and knowing that the Wolves were still in this game as it wound down. But Toronto turned the ball over almost as much (16), and they actually managed to shoot worse from the three point line (16%). They did manage to shoot over 44% from the field though.
- Jose Calderon came out the victor in the Spanish point guard battle. Calderon had 14 points on 6-11 shooting to go with six assists. Rubio also had 6 assists but shot just 2-9 from the field and scored 10 points.
- The worst thing about losing this game, to my mind, is the fact that it wasted an opportunity to come out of the season’s only back to back to back over .500. To do so now, the Wolves would have to beat an excellent Chicago team tomorrow in Minneapolis. Chicago played a tough game last night as well against the Pacers. It wouldn’t be completely stunning to see the Wolves compete and lose by single digits. But more on that tomorrow.
In fact, more on everything tomorrow. Another night, another loss by the Wolves, who look increasingly bipolar on the court. It’s probably time we resigned ourselves to this sort of thing.