From now on, as long as Tom, Derek and myself watch each game at some point, we will be approaching our recaps in a new fashion. Not all will be like this but most will. It takes into consideration perspectives from three different basketball minds giving you the ultimate take on what happened in that night’s game. Hope you enjoy and feel free to comment in the comments section or via Twitter/Facebook.
Jonah: It’s hard to be positive at all after losses like these. But it’s only the beginning of the season and a loss like this shouldn’t be too crippling. With that said, one thing I really liked tonight was how the Wolves got the ball to Nikola Pekovic, early and often. On Friday night the Wolves had trouble getting the ball to Pek, and even when they did, he didn’t have great positioning on Cousins. Tonight, however, Pek was able to take advantage of Jonas Valanciunas and establish deep in the paint or at least right on the block. That led to easier buckets and a much more efficient night from Pek. It’s just a shame they couldn’t establish any rhythm on offense and continue to feed Pek. But when you can barely dribble the ball without losing control, it’s hard to command the tempo and exploit what was working, and that was Pek tonight.
Tom: I wasn’t able to watch the game due to a DVR problem (read: my fiancee forgot), so this assessment is based entirely off the stats. But I’m going to put on my Encyclodeia Brown Goes to the Box Score hat for a second: Greg Stiemsma blocked four shots in 17 minutes. Raptors big men had poor shooting percentages. Those things are probably related, right? Somebody tell me I’m right.
Derek: Andrei Kirilenko was everywhere. In the first quarter I was convinced he was going to post another 5×5 game (5 each of points; rebounds; assists; steals; blocks) in the first quarter, but the lead got away and it made no sense to continue playing the veterans any longer than Adelman did, so he fell short. However, he was efficient, made some plays on defense, and was one of the few Timberwolves who wasn’t a turnover monster in just under 30 minutes of game time. Games like this make me even more anxious to see him next to Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love.
Jonah: I can guarantee that Tom and Derek will note the turnovers, so I’ll take it another direction. The biggest negative out of tonight was the loss of JJ Barea. Depending on how severe his apparent concussion may be, the Wolves will seriously miss him and his energy. Friday night he lit it up and he was well on his way tonight to having a solid game before he got knocked out. What Barea’s been able to do in Friday’s game and the first half of this game was change the pace all by himself. He forced the defense to guard him and he still was making plays. Without him now the Wolves are desperate for a go-to scorer. They just have no “X” factor without him, which is a pretty big negative. Hopefully he won’t be sidelined for too long but considering they head to Brooklyn on a back-to-back tomorrow night, he may be out for one game at the very least.
Tom: Perimeter defense. I said before the game that Kyle Lowry, with his skill level, size and aggressiveness, was going to present a rather major challenge to the likes of Luke Ridnour and JJ Barea, and unfortunately, I was proven correct. But Lowry being productive is unsurprising. What WAS surprising was DeMar DeRozan going Eric Gordon on the Wolves, dropping 22 points on 8-14 shooting. I would love to tell you exactly why DeRozan dropped 22 points, but again, fiancee, DVR, blah blah.
Derek: The thing that stood out the most to me, besides the final score, would be the turnovers. The Timberwolves lost by 19 but gave up 24 points off of 24 turnovers (16 in the first half alone!) while only being able to turn their 11 forced turnovers into 14 points. To make matters worse, five players had three or more turnovers, including the starting backcourt of Luke Ridnour and Brandon Roy, who finished with four and five respectively. When you factor in the Raptors’ 16 offensive rebounds, that makes forty extra scoring chances for them, and it’s incredibly difficult to win that way.
Jonah: Andrei Kirilenko has certainly earned his nickname of the “Silent Assassin.” He went 4-4 in the first quarter and ended up with 17 points on 6-7 shooting. He was hitting outside jumpers, crashing the boards and utilizing one of the sweetest pump fakes I’ve witnessed. Yet he only played 29 minutes including missing time during the Raptors’ run in the fourth to break the game open. He needs to be on the court much more than he was tonight. I expect 35 minutes a game from him each and every night, and why Adelman decided to limit him tonight is beyond me.
Tom: Andrea Bargnani’s statline is hilariously bad. 4-16 from the field, no assists, one rebound, 10 points, 2-4 from the free throw line. If the Raptors had lost, there would have been a pretty obvious candidate for finger-pointing.
Derek: I don’t know if this counts, but I keep coming back to two things with this game: 1) It’s the second game of the season; and 2) No Ricky Rubio or Kevin Love. Maybe those are excuses, but that’s what’s keeping me from getting too upset over this game. Do you think any team this side of…well, anywhere, is going to pull down 16 rebounds with Kevin Love on the floor? No. Will it be as easy for point guards like Kyle Lowry to torch the Timberwolves when Rubio brings his defense back? Most likely, not. Yeah, losing a seemingly winnable game like this is frustrating and disappointing, but there are better days ahead.
Next up the Wolves head to Brooklyn to face the Nets at 6:30 pm tomorrow night.