Jonah: The first two games of this road trip were duds because of the guard play, most notably from the two starters, Luke Ridnour and Malcolm Lee. But in the last two, the two the Wolves had real chances to win and cashed in on one of those opportunities, those two guys really elevated their game. There was one stretch in the third where Lee had four ORB’s on one play, battling in the paint against big, big dudes before drawing a foul. And Ridnour was the typical shooter you should expect night in and night out. The guards are what make Adelman’s offense move — along with AK47 — and they’ve shown that they can jumpstart enough offense to keep the team in it til the end.
Derek: I’m gonna try to spin something that’s seemingly negative, and turn it into a positive. The Timberwolves were in a game right up until the end despite 1) being out-shot .457/.211/.885 to .378/.273/.771; 2) out-rebounding the Clippers 52-35, while snaring 10 more offensive rebounds; 3) turning the ball over 18 times to the Clippers’ 10. Is all of that really a positive? I don’t know; is a back-handed compliment really a compliment? Well, it kind of is.
Jonah: There are two key aspects to winning an NBA game. One is shooting a high percentage from the three-point line and the other is from the charity stripe. The Wolves weren’t low on volume from either spot but the percentages weren’t near what they should be to come out of a close game like this with a win. The Wolves shot 23-percent from the three-point line and 77-percent from the charity stripe. The ball has had trouble hitting twine in the second half for the Wolves in general on this road trip, and you have to imagine it will at some point, but it’s just not right now. That’s the bluntest I can put it. They won’t win until the shots start falling from those areas on a more consistent basis, and if/when they do, the Wolves could blow out teams like the Clippers, so watch out.
Derek: Aside from this team not being able to shoot, they gave the Clips a lot of good looks in the paint (Out-scored 54-38) and in transition (22-12). Maybe I should add that to my list above. I’m not sure if all of this says more about how the Wolves or Clippers should feel about this game.
Jonah: JJ Barea did extremely JJ Barea things tonight. Not much left to say. Could be a negative or a positive, depending on someone’s perspective. It’s pretty “meh” to me.
Derek: I think tonight we saw contrasting things defensively from Malcolm Lee and Alexey Shved. Lee seemed very instinctual by knowing when to stay, and went to help, as well as being decent one-on-one, from what I saw. Shved on the other hand would over-help, and on one play in particular Nikola Pekovic had to close out on Matt Barnes, Shved’s man, while Shved stayed to help in paint while the Wolves were left with three players in the post with one Clipper in the area.
Take what you will from this stat, but Lee finished with a +4, and Shved with a -11.
Notes: A post will likely follow tomorrow but the news came through today that Ricky Rubio was given clearance to start full-contact practice when the team returns home to Minnesota. That’s huge news. The Wolves have needed some help in the backcourt and who better to help than Rubio himself.
Next up: The road trip is over and the home crowd will welcome the Wolves back to the Target Center on Friday night to take on the Milwaukee Bucks.