Last night the Warriors honored Chris Mullin for his glorious tenure playing by the Bay. The Wolves, and in some sense the Golden State fans, completely upended the emotional moment for everyone by playing the best all-around game of this long road trip so far.
Thanks to Kevin Love and somewhat steady point guard play from Luke Ridnour and JJ Barea, the Wolves were able to sneak out of Cali with a nice win against the Warriors on this arduous road trip.
The last time the Wolves played the spoiler card was in Dallas. On the night where the Mavs were receiving their championship rings, the Wolves came into Dallas and rode out victors. Tonight was eerily similar in such a heated situation. Mullin’s jersey retirement ceremony was hounded by boos directed at owner Joe Lacob. Warriors’ fans are known as some of the best in the world — that’s according to Jim Peterson, and as tumultuous as they’ve been the for the last 10 years — but it was classless response to an owner making moves for the future (Although as a Wolves fan, we should all have some empathy for their reaction to an extent, though).
Hidden behind all the hooplah, though, was another huge game from Love. He had 36 points on 23 shots along with 17 rebounds. The stat lines are becoming expected, so no one really understands just how great of a game that really is. Wolves fans expect the double-double on a nightly basis, and there’s no huge difference between 20-10 and 30-15. But Love’s doing things that no one else can do in the league right now.
But how much longer can the Wolves ride Love to these kinds of victories? I understand that supporting roles are being plugged with inexperienced players, even rookies, but they’ll need to step up on a consistent basis the way Kawhi Leonard has for San Antonio. They don’t need to be the first of even second option on the court but as long as they’re playing effective enough to give Love a breather on occasion, then they’ve done their job. It’s not that Love needs or even wants someone else to step up to be the hero but just someone to at least prove effective while Love takes a breather is a huge going forward. Ideally, Derrick Williams would be that guy. Last night he only went 2-9 from the field with six points in 37 minutes of burn, but it was his work on the glass that made his performance impressive. 11 rebounds one night, maybe give Adelman 12 points tomorrow in San Antonio and you’re doing your job by not doing too much but still doing a lot at the same time.
Two players that also stepped up were Ridnour and Barea. Starting with Ridnour, he finished with 11 points and 10 assists. He’s known as a shooter to Minny fans but his assist totals are rising when the Wolves need it the most. Being one of the most experieinced players on the team, it’s his duty to put players in their spots and hit ‘em with the pass, and he’s doing just that. As for Barea, he only went 3-10 from the field but also managed to dish out double-digit assists with 10. With not one, but two point guards finding players within the motion of the offense, the Wolves will only prove to be more effective on a consistent basis. Guys like Love and Michael Beasley need the ball where they’re going to shoot, or at least within that area. These two guys hit them in their spots and it paid dividends with a big win.
Next up the Wolves head to play San Antonio tomorrow night. The Spurs are hot right now, and even hotter are the Oklahoma City Thunder who are the next on the schedule. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves because the Spurs will be as tough at home as any other team in the NBA.