But for the grace of Kevin Love, the Timberwolves almost certainly would have lost this game.
This statement is, admittedly, a little unfair since JJ Barea, Nikola Pekovic and Michael Beasley, not to mention Ricky Rubio, were all absent as well. Hypothetically taking Kevin Love out of the game turns the Wolves into little more than a D-League team.
I know it sounds ridiculous, but Love’s 40 point, 19 rebound performance feels a little ho-hum, in the best possible way. Of course Kevin Love dropped 40 and 20. In other obvious news, the sun rose and “Wrath of the Titans” is getting plastered on Rotten Tomatoes. Yawn city.
This is both ridiculous and a testament to the incredible March Love is having. He has had one game in which he scored below 20. He has had eight 30+ point games, three 40+, and one rather ridiculous 51. By comparison, Kevin Durant has had just four 30+ games and one 40 point game. HAHA DURANT U SUCK. (Kidding.)
Less obvious is the spectacular play Minnesota has been getting from Luke Ridnour.
Whatever struggles the Wolves have had since Rubio went down with an injury haven’t been production problems from the point guard position. Once again against the Bobcats, Ridnour was excellent, putting up a fantastic offensive stat line with 15 points and 14 assists. If we don’t include the stinker that everyone threw against San Antonio, Ridnour has played up to Rubio’s level statistically since taking over his role, averaging exactly as many assists (8.2) and two more points per game (12.5).
Anywho. Minnesota beat the worst team in the NBA. The frightening thing was the way the Bobcats hung around and made this into a game, which is a good reminder that without Kevin Love, the Timberwolves are awful. Without Beasley, Barea, and Pekovic, they might even be bad at a historic level.
In fact, without those four players, these teams are startlingly similar. Ridnour and Kemba Walker shot the exact same percentage from the floor, though Ridnour dished out considerably more assists. Bismack Biyombo and Derrick Williams are both young, raw big men with more athleticism than talent. Both benches have enthusiastic hustle guys, just there to work hard.
The difference, of course, is that Minnesota has arguably the best power forward in the NBA, while Charlotte has…hmm. A fairly promising rookie in Kemba Walker? A small forward who cracks the top 200 in PER (Gerald Henderson)? Woof. Anthony Davis, I wish you the best.
A few random bullet points:
- Phoenix, Utah, and Denver all lost tonight. Good night for the Wolves to be playing the Bobcats.
- I love Anthony Tolliver. I’m always amused hearing a player drop an audible f-bomb, then listening to the announcers awkwardly pretend like nothing happened. High comedy. But this would never happen with a stand-up guy like Tolliver. After committing a bad foul under the hoop, Tolliver was really riled up, yelling “Gosh dangit!” very loudly. Anthony! There might be kids watching!
- Twice, Biyombo crashed his way across the lane, not unlike a puppy who hasn’t really gotten used to walking yet, and threw up this wild half hook shot that swished through the net. Once it counted, once it was waived off because he traveled. Can someone tell me if this is a normal occurrence? Does he OFTEN make that shot? If so, I’m a little stunned.
- How does Wes Johnson play 32 minutes and only put up four shots? I’m not complaining, really. I’m just a little stunned by how inconsequential he was.
- Malcolm Lee only played five minutes, but they were a LOUD five minutes. He made a couple baskets, and dished out a sweet no-look assist. Confident Malcolm Lee is going to be much more fun than tentative Malcolm Lee.
- DJ Augustin and Kemba Walker split time at point guard right down the center, both playing 24 minutes. Augustin was 0-4 with zero points. Walker was 6-13 with 20. I realize points don’t tell the whole story, but I’m a little nonplussed as to why Kemba isn’t starting and playing the lion’s share of the minutes. Don’t you want your future players to improve?
Next up for the Wolves: a tough test against the suddenly rejuvenated Celtics, as KG comes back to Minnesota. Until then? Rest easy in the knowledge that Minnesota has Kevin Love and the rest of the league, well, doesn’t.