Jonah: The heart of the Wolves’ problems have sprouted from the guard positions. Luke Ridnour has fought his ground but surpassed any effort all season with tonight’s ball game. He ended with 12 points on 50-percent shooting but it was the seven assists that stand out in my mind. He was looking for options out of the pick-and-roll and certainly helped guide Kevin Love to his game-high and season-high 36 points. It was one of the better games that the Wolves ran Adelman’s system to a T, and in large part thanks to Ridnour’s game management.
Tom: I love this play so much, I want to dump my fiancee and marry it.
At first, I thought that Malcolm Lee was about to get a pinch-pick from Love and Pekovic, but that wasn’t the case. He simply completed his circuit. Since Boobie Gibson’s back was to the play, there was no way he could see Kirilenko’s picture perfect pass coming behind him, and the Wolves got a layup.
It’s the kind of play that only works once per game and would have totally broken apart if A) Gibson had been watching the ball and his man or B) if Kirilenko hadn’t thrown the mother of all perfect passes. Fortunately, Gibson wasn’t and Kirilenko did.
Derek: Dante Cunningham’s shot may not have been falling, but still found a way to contribute with six rebounds and three steals. Oh, and he even got to the line!
Jonah: Nikola Pekovic had one of those nights you leave in the past. 0-3 from the field and four personal fouls looks a lot like his rookie days, where he couldn’t step onto the court without committing a foul. It’s not that he played horribly, it’s just he never had any real opportunities to make a difference. The issue is, since these games haunt his past, they can creep in more often than not and potentially make matching a max-offer this coming summer that much more daunting. Just some food for thought. Here’s to turning a performance like this around next time out.
Tom: It feels ungrateful when you complain about things after an 18-point win, but the Wolves really could have done a lot better in transition. The Wolves shot just 5-12 and produced just 0.78 points per possession on fast break opportunities, which are usually some of the highest percentage shots a team can get.
The good news is that Minnesota only turned the ball over once in transition, so most of the damage was just missed layups. The bad news is that the Wolves missed layups. Urgh.
Derek: Sure, you won by 18, but you committed 21 turnovers! Wait– am I really bitching that they could’ve won by more than 18? I guess I should stop complaining.
Jonah: Andrei Kirilenko returns from back spasms, an ailing old-man type of injury, and looks like the youngest, sprite on the court. His line — eight points, seven rebounds, six assists, four steals and three blocks — is a tribute to how active and manic he is on the court. He never needs the ball to make plays happen and is by far the best defensive stopper the Wolves have. It’s great to see him back on the court.
Tom: Cleveland shot better from 3-point range, won points off turnovers by 12, and had essentially identical points in the paint and points in transition to Minnesota. The Wolves shot better overall by 12%, but the real area Minnesota won was the free throw line. The Wolves took 35 free throws tonight to Cleveland’s nine, making 25 to Cleveland’s 6. Incidentally, Minnesota won by 18, which is considerably less than the difference between free throws.
Derek: I didn’t jinx the Wolves tonight! I had even given Tom and Jonah the right to title the recap “Blame Derek” if they had lost. Maybe I should make all of my previews a scathing jab at the opposing team and it’s city. Or they could play the Cavs 82 times a year.
Notes: Two DNP-CD’s tonight. One Derrick Williams didn’t see any time as did Lou Amundson, who’s birthday was today. Pretty typical but also sad that Williams can’t find any burn against D-League competition like tonight. Speaking of D-League…
Next up: Timberwolves get four days rest at home and then host the Denver Nuggets next Wednesday night.