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Jonah: I mean, how can you not say Kevin Love?! He surprised us all when news broke 45 minutes before the tip that he’d be playing and then delivered in the biggest possible way. Finished the first half with 22 and eight boards, and then the game with 34 points and 14. He was in midseason form for having played just his first game and there’s almost no better time for his comeback. It was visibly obvious that the scrappy-doo Wolves have been losing their steam and were in desperate need of a boost. Love provided that boost tonight and hopefully these kinds of games will continue.
Tom: I won’t say Kevin Love…exactly. I’ll say the way the Wolves didn’t tell us until 35 minutes before the game that Love was returning. In an NBA world full of Woj bombs and Twitter-journalism, we are rarely surprised by off-the-court things. Everything is reported, everything is analyzed, everything is dissected. This wasn’t. This was just “HEY GUYS, I HAVE AWESOME NEWS.” We weren’t really given time to wonder if he was coming back too soon. We were just given time to be excited. It was pretty awesome.
Derek: Hmm…you mean aside from M.F. Spread Love (Kevin Love) unexpectedly returning like conflagration of basketball excellence? Fine. The Timberwolves did manage to rebound defensively to limit one of the league’s best offensive rebounding teams from getting too many easy second chance buckets.
Jonah: It’s hard not to place the blame of this game on officiating but it certainly is part of the negative I observed tonight. Once the Wolves started to lose their grasp and their lead, the game got out of hand. It started when Kosta Koufos cold-bloodedly blocked a fastbreak lay up of Love’s. The two went down hard, some pushing followed as well as some jabbing and the next thing ya know, Love gets his first technical of the year. Yay. Well it all went down hill from there. The officials tried their best to keep the mucked up game in line but went about it all wrong. From that moment forward, it was clear that the Wolves were rattled through the quarter and never fully recovered. With Love’s return you have to accept the bad with the good. The bad is obviously Love’s whining ways, which the Wolves as a whole need to learn to recuperate from and bounce back with vengeance.
Tom: How does a team with Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Andrei Kirilenko and Dante Cunningham lose any battle on the boards to any team? The Nuggets out-rebounded the Wolves 49-45. Denver is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the NBA, but those offensive rebounds doomed the Wolves late.
Derek: How about the overall uneven performance? How do you score 32 points in one quarter and then just 36 in the next half…total? If you force twenty turnovers, you should come away with the victory, and not a seven point loss.
Jonah: Alexey Shved found himself on the bench in the winding minutes of the fourth quarter. This is something new we’re not used to. Shved is last year’s Rubio, where Adelman would ride him like a pony til the end. But instead it was a Barea-Ridnour backcourt that saw the waning seconds tick by. Just my two cents: I’m not a fan of that move, Rick, but you do know more than I do. Proceed.
Tom: Me before the game (after I heard Love was coming back): “Seriously, the Wolves bench is so deep! Minnesota could make some noise in the playoffs with that crew! What a group!” Minnesota’s bench: “SCREW YOU TOM.” Minnesota’s bench finished with a +/- of -40. Seriously. -40. +/- isn’t an exact stat, but -40 is beyond absurd.
Derek: Sure enough I talk about the Nuggets being the worst free throw shooting team in the NBA in my preview and they shoot 84%. Of course they do. There really isn’t much that you can do about that.
Notes: There were 12 people dressed for tonight’s game. 11 of them saw minutes. The one who logged the “DNP-CD” was none other than Derrick Williams. Kevin Love’s return obviously means that Williams’ minutes would decrease, but to 0? Hmm. Going forward, Williams will have his chances and needs to cash in on any opportunity he can get. Otherwise you might all but kiss him goodbye before next summer.
Next up: The Wolves head West to start a four game road trip, starting in Portland on Friday night.