Jonah: Sitting through the first three quarters was torture. On top of that, I was thinking, “This may be the first time all season I don’t even come up with a positive.” But then the comeback sparked. Thanks to — yet again — the Russian connection, the Wolves bounced back from a horrible shooting night and a treacherous defensive effort to make the game exciting. Now, unfortunately, they didn’t win but you gotta admit it was still fun to see the Wolves come back, again. I guess that’s a positive.
Tom: Alexey Shved drastically improved his shooting from the field, which was nice. He also missed roughly a kajillion shots in the last two minutes, which was less nice, but 5-10 from the field for 13 points is much more acceptable than 3-12, his numbers against Dallas. Part of the reason he was more efficient was because he took half the 3-point attempts, shooting 1-3 instead of 1-6.
Derek: At least no one got hur– oh right, Malcolm Lee. I like how much more they got to the line. Let’s not talk about their free throw percentage, because that’s not very positive, but they were able to get to the line enough (and make enough) to keep them in the game for the most part.
Jonah: Oh my, so many things went wrong tonight. The free throws, the defensive pressure in the first, the laziness in transition. But I’m taking a different route. With 15 seconds to go, Alexey Shved and Andrei Kirilenko tangoed in the corner. Shved broke free along the baseline after essentially trapping himself. He was forced to go up with a bad floater over Tyrus Thomas — who was a monster shot-blocker tonight — that just grazed the rim and fell right into Thomas’ hands. Fortunately, Thomas stepped out of bounds thanks to pressure along the baseline from Derrick Williams, but, really? The game-deciding shot came as a result of a badly broken pick ‘n’ roll in the corner. Honestly, that’s my negative because Adelman knows better, and I can probably guarantee that wasn’t the play call. Shved needs to put the ball in a better spot on the floor for that important of a shot, a game-changing shot. Had he turned the corner toward the top of the key instead — brought the ball out — and looked for another, more efficient shot, this game may have gone another way. The Timberwolves had chances beyond this play in the waning seconds, luckily, but this was just too frustrating not to mention.
Tom: It feels unfair to bring up too many negatives when a team is missing four of their starters and two of their most important players off the bench. Minnesota missed their free throws, lost to the Bobcats, turned the ball over 17 times and shot 38% from the field and 28% from 3-point range? That sucks…except of the nine players that were active for the game, three were Malcolm Lee, Will Conroy and Lou Amundson. Soooo yeah. We really can’t ask for too much.
Derek: Make your free throws! They lost by two, but missed seventeen free throws. Even if they had shot a still terrible 60%, they probably would’ve been able to finish the comeback. They managed to win the offensive and defensive rebounding battles while keeping points in the paint, points in transition, and points off of turnovers about even, but their free throw shooting was so bad that it still cost them the game.
Jonah: MVP candidates for the season: 1) Lebron 2) Carmelo 3) AK47. There’s no denying his spectacular performances to this point. He is literally everything to this team so far. Without his stat-stuffing games and on-the-fly plays, the Wolves would not be over .500. It only gets me giddy thinking about how, especially in close games like these, the lineup will look drastically different and simply lethal. Rubio-Shved(Or Ridnour)-AK47-Love-Pek. Oofta! Good luck next time, Charlotte.
Tom: I was all set to make a wise-ass remark about “any time Byron Mullens grabs 15 rebounds and scores 12 points on you, you are in trouble,” except Mullens has been surprisingly decent this year. He’s averaging 12 points and 10 rebounds per 36 minutes, and his PER is actually above league average so far at 15.3. So I stand corrected.
Derek: Injury ball. Since Will Conroy played a whopping four minutes and Lee went down, they were left with a seven man bench and still manage to comeback. And the guys got tired. I don’t know how they did it, but the fact that they got back that close is remarkable. I mean, they were too gassed to even chase after rebounds in the third quarter, for Shammgod’s sake. Andrei Kirilenko played 44 minutes yet again, but that may not be smart given his injury history. Same for Ridnour. Let’s just make it through Friday in one piece and comeback next week in better shape than when we entered it.
Notes: Kemba Walker’s game-winner was eerily similar to his game-winner back in his UConn days against Pitt. Just an impressive move, his crossover-step back. Near perfection in all facets: the speed, the precision and, of course, the execution. It’s truly an amazing move. Also, Malcolm Lee, who had a decent little game and has given big minutes as of late, was seen limping into the locker room in extreme pain before the Wolves even made their move in the fourth. Haven’t heard official word but likely just a nasty cramp given the extreme pain he looked to be in. Please let it be just a cramp.
Next up: Wolves stay home and host Golden State on Friday night, 7 pm. Then it’s rest time, four days to be exact. Wolves players probably can’t wait.