This isn’t fun anymore. Not for the Wolves. Not for the fans. There’s no other way to say it.
I honestly spent last night’s game trying to stay positive. See, look. Here’s the evidence. I didn’t expect the Wolves to win on the second night of a back to back. I didn’t expect them to make the playoffs since that damn game against the Lakers in March. So last night, I started making a list of little things that made me smile, like Brad Miller’s 11 point first quarter. I planned to write this recap based off of those little things.
But that was before Luke Ridnour went down and yet another key member of the Timberwolves’ lineup spent the night in pain, unable to play. Ridnour has been a rock for the Wolves. When Rubio went down, Minnesota’s playoff hopes went from imminently possible to negligible, but not because Ridnour was taking over at point guard. He’s been fantastic. He has never (publicly, at least) complained about the horribly hard match-ups (Kobe Bryant, James Harden, etc.) that Rick Adelman has asked him to play. He just consistently worked his ass off, defensively and offensively
I don’t know what’s happening this season, but it’s weird, unfortunate and utter crap. Pekovic was back last night, playing nearly 20 minutes off the bench in his return. And though he told Adelman his only problem was fatigue, Pek was noticeably grimacing as he moved on an ankle with bone spurs. Beasley is still unable to play, as is Barea. We all know Rubio is done for the year. That leaves Kevin Love and a group of players best suited for 15 minutes a game off the bench. Yes, it’s wonderful to have arguably (though if you argue with me, I will destroy you statistically) the best power forward in the game, but it would be nice to have a team around him.
Earlier this season, I would have made the argument that this season was awesome, and whatever happened to Minnesota should just be gravy at this point. After all, the Wolves had improved drastically, and the mere fact that they were contending for a playoff spot should be cause for celebration.
But it just isn’t fun watching any player get injured, and it REALLY isn’t fun watching your favorite players go down one by one. Seeing Pek hop one footed off the floor isn’t fun. Seeing Beasley hobbling around on a sprained big toe isn’t fun. Seeing Luke Ridnour writhing on the ground in pain isn’t fun. This season isn’t fun anymore, and the Wolves deserve a break from whatever voodoo crap continuously beats the living tar out of them.
Anyway. Rant over. Here are some stats and some words.
- Tyreke Evans broke the Wolves down several times last night off pick and rolls. For whatever reason, Minnesota’s bigs kept switching onto him. Evans is not a player teams wants their bigs defending, and he punished Minnesota. On one play in particular, he treated Brad Miller like a chair set up at the elbow, crossing him over smoothly, driving to the rim and putting in a beautiful reverse layup. Evans finished with 24 points on 8-14 shooting.
- The crazy thing about last night’s game is that offensively, Minnesota should have won the game. They shot 48% from the field, 52% from 3-point range. The Kings shot slightly better from the field (50%), but considerably worse from 3-point range (30%). Both teams tied in turnovers with 11. The Wolves out-assisted the Kings 23-22. The big difference? Easy baskets. The Kings beat the Wolves 21-8 on fast break points and 60-42 in points in the paint for a combined 71-50. Sigh.
- Here’s a weird Wes Johnson stat for you: according to the NBA Statscube, Wes is shooting 22% from threes above the break (or: not-corner threes) in the first quarter this season. In the third quarter, he has taken 12 more above the break threes, and he has made 36% of them. I don’t know what accounts for this 14% difference, but I notice it every game. It seems like there’s a 2 minute stretch in every 3rd quarter where Wes hits 2-3 shots, and generally looks like a world-beater. Then the world rights itself and kicks Wes in the groin again.
- I’ve been a fan of DeMarcus Cousins since he entered the league mainly because I bragged to all of my friends that he was going to be a star and I want to be proved right. But when he is playing the Wolves, I get so annoyed with his constant flopping. He has gotten really good at making officials think he was fouled. Not a positive thing.
- One moment of levity in an otherwise dark night: with Brad Miller starting the game, the Wolves didn’t have anybody who could jump for the opening tip. Miller didn’t want to, and was laughing with Kevin Love about it. I truly wish I could have heard that conversation. Anyway, after much debate, Martell Webster lined up against Sacramento’s Jason Thompson…and Webster won the tip. You can’t make this stuff up.
Final thoughts: honestly, the last two losses sealed Minnesota’s fate. Numerically, they are not technically eliminated, but the Wolves will not break their playoff drought this year. The best thing we can do is hunker down and pray nothing bad happens to anyone else.
Maybe, if we’re lucky in these last 11 games, we’ll stumble on something to be positive about.