Derek: Yes, I finally get to go first! Don’t worry, that’s not my positive. The Wolves were able to take advantage of the Celtics’ frontcourt by winning the points in the paint battle, 50-34, despite Kevin Garnett’s double-double, and unrelenting desire to beat his former team.
Tom: Alexey Shved’s playmaking. He will be getting an extremely in-depth look pretty soon, but suffice to say that “4-11, 11 points and 2 assists” doesn’t do him justice tonight. On several plays, Shved made nice passes that were blown by teammates. Other times, Shved would carve his way into the lane only to find that his teammates were all ball-watching.
Shved might not be the most efficient shooter (ok, he’s definitely not the most efficient shooter), but he is pretty good at making things happen when Minnesota’s offense goes stagnant.
Derek: Oh, my turn again already? I’ve got a couple, but I can’t help pointing out that the Timberwolves got out-rebounded by one of the league’s worst — if not the worst — rebounding teams. It’s not as if they were throwing elite size at the Wolves, causing them to go up against mismatches all night long. Sure, it was only by five rebounds, but it’s still annoying.
Tom: Kevin Love is going to improve. He is simply too talented to continue shooting poorly, and he’s too confident to stop shooting. But man, it’s not fun to watch him struggle before that improvement happens. Tonight was no exception. Love, who is 82% from the free throw line for his career, shot just 50%, 6-12 overall. He’s still trying to get his 3-point shot back, as he went just 1-5 from behind the 3-point line.
Jim Peterson observed on the Wolves broadcast that Love’s shot looks like it’s coming off his hand funny and rotating strangely. He’s quite correct on both counts. I’m sure it’s frustrating for Love, but if any player’s struggles are likely to fix themselves, his would be.
Still. Sucks to watch him struggle so much.
Derek: I sure hope Josh Howard is OK after plummeting back to earth like he did tonight. 12 points; 0 rebounds; 0 assists on 5-14 shooting in 33 minutes is terrible. It’s one of those performances that would get Derrick Williams planted firmly on the bench until the calendar turns over to the new year. Please, Josh. Not here. Not now. Not ever.
Tom: Malcolm Lee’s 1-2 shooting from 3-point range kept my observation from the Philly game alive! Perhaps Lee’s offensive game simply revolves around hitting spot-up 3-pointers. Also, small sample sizes are kind of fun.
Notes: The Wolves are now 0-11 against the Celtics since Kevin Garnett’s departure, but you’ve probably heard plenty about that by now…In case you missed it, Doc Rivers and Paul Pierce called Kevin Love “one of the great rebounders of the era.” High praise, especially from Pierce who is notoriously close-mouthed about opponents…Kirilenko sat out this game as well with back spasms. It’s really hard not to imagine what might have been different if he had been playing.