Jonah: Offensively, the first quarter was brilliant. The Wolves ran through the high post and Nikola Pekovic effectively and had overpowered the Magic in a physical game to start. The rest of the team was moving the ball well and forced the Magic’s perimeter defense to scramble. If that’s the Wolves team that shows up every game, they have a chance to win against every team in the NBA. No doubt in my mind.
Tom: I really believed that the Wolves were going to win by 20 in the first quarter. Why would you believe otherwise? The Wolves dominated the paint, knocked down some jumpers, made some nice passes and generally looked better than Orlando. Sure, they let the pesky Magic hang around a little bit, but there’s no way a team led by Glen Davis could keep consistently scoring like that for four quarters, right? Worst case scenario, Minnesota gives up a ton of baskets, but it’s not like they are going to let Orlando shut them down, right?
Derek: Kevin Love must’ve gulped down enough chicken soup, Airborne, or what not, to kill an adult elephant, since he dropped an efficient 23 and 15 on 10-20 shooting, and even added a few steals. I’m fairly certain I can speak for Wolves fans everywhere when I say that I hope this continues.
Jonah: Well, it’s hard to consider their poor shooting effort in the second half a negative. I mean obviously it was a negative but it wasn’t really their fault; the Magic did a great job of forcing the Wolves’ hand and protecting the elbow inlet — the root of Adelman’s offense and also where the Wolves did their damage in the first quarter. Instead, I want to point out the free throws. The Wolves only managed to take 12 free throws tonight in a very physical game. They could’ve seen a few more whistles than they did but the Wolves also need to do a better job of selling the physicality. As one of the best teams at getting to the line in the league, they needed to do a better job of that tonight.
Tom: OOPS I WAS WRONG BEFORE, BIG BABY DAVIS COULD TOTALLY SCORE FOUR BAJILLION POINTS IN TRANSITION OF ALL THINGS AND BEAT THE WOLVES. Jonah is quite correct that it was more Orlando’s defense that sparked the comeback than anything else, but I would point out that JJ Barea shot way, way too much, and for the most part, his shots came in isolation, which meant very little ball movement on offense which meant VERY LITTLE OFFENSE because JJ Barea missed ALL OF THE SHOTS.
I apologize for the yelling.
Derek: Surely there must be some logical reasoning behind the loss tonight, so let’s try to find out what that could be:
Rebounding…43-42, Wolves. (Including a 15-6 advantage for the Wolves offensively.)
Turnovers…17, even. Surely they must not have been able to get as many points off of those turnovers, but they had eight more points off turnovers than the Magic.
How about fast break points…17-15, Wolves, again.
Oh, I know. Let’s check points in the paint. 52-50, Wolves. Dang it! How did they lose this?
Wait, wait– I think I got it: The Magic could shoot and the Wolves couldn’t! Sometimes, I guess it’s just as simple as your shots falling and not falling.
Magic: .537/.429/1.000 (Just eight attempts)
Jonah: The Magic captured their moment. As the title says, basketball is a game of runs. The Magic did a great job of taking missed shots by the Wolves and turning them into points on the other end. Surprisingly, the Magic’s transition threat was Glen Davis, who continually leaked out in the open court and converted outlet passes into simple lay ins and dunks. It was tough to watch.
Tom: Rick Adelman is one of the best coaches in the league at running the same set on consecutive possessions but changing the shooter to keep the defense confused. On a pair of Shved drive-and-kick plays, Luke Ridnour got open looks at a three, but the second time he dumped it in to Pek (who missed the layup). The game was incredibly disappointing at the end, but seeing this team have some real direction on offense is refreshing.
Derek: How the ‘eff did the Magic shoot just eight free throws? Not that the Timberwolves were much better with twelve. Just amazingly low numbers, especially for a team like the Timberwolves, who shot just 28% from three. Of course this tells me they tried to stop the Magic’s runs with low percentage looks, instead of trying to sink a couple high percentage looks to build momentum. Drives me crazy.
Notes: Alexey Shved had himself a poor night shooting, going just 1-8 from the floor, 1-6 from beyond the arc. That performance gave himself a comfy seat on the bench in place of Barea, who didn’t play any better.
Next up: Wolves head further south to take on the Miami Heat tomorrow night.