Heat burn; Wolves lose 103-92

Wade, James carry Heat past Timberwolves, 103-92

Andrei Kirilenko had himself a hell of a game

Two Positives:

Jonah: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a rebounding deficit like this in my life: 53-24 in favor of the Wolves. And, honestly, that might be the only reason why the Wolves were really in this thing until the very end. Behind Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic, they are no doubt the league’s best offensive rebounding tandem but the wealth was spread across the board, which meant the Wolves made it precedent to crash the boards on both ends of the court.

Derek: In the wake of Kevin Love’s struggles shooting the ball last night, Andrei Kirilenko stepped up in a huge way. It’s not just the 22 points on 10-16 shooting. It’s not just the 4 rebounds or 3 assists. It’s the fact that he was able to at least annoy LeBron for much of the game and keep the game’s best player from going supernova.

Two Negatives:

Jonah: Kevin Love had himself another baaad shooting night. Some thought he may have shook that streak with a decent night last night but it was obvious that he was afraid to fling the ball, especially from long range; any pass he grabbed on the perimeter ended in indecision due to his lost confidence in his stroke. It’s not a good sign but everyone hits these rough patches but seems to come out okay in the end.

Derek: You will rarely beat a team of the Heat’s caliber when you lose the turnover battle 19-8, and give up 18 points on turnovers. With the Heat, you’re not just giving them extra possessions: you’re giving the league’s best shooting team more chances to make more valuable shots (threes); not just higher percentage looks on the break, which they can also do well.

Two Observations:

Jonah: The Miami Heat came into this game averaging over 20 shots from beyond the arc per game and connecting on over 40-percent of them. Tonight the Heat outshot the Wolves from deep by eight and were able to nail nine more than them tonight. It’s astounding to see a team with players so physically commanding with the ability to drive the paint at will shoot so many threes and connect at the clip they do. Tonight was an example of how disgustingly good that really is.

Derek: Love’s performances have been scrutinized ever since he’s made his public comments and also made many question leadership, incidentally. Jerry Zgoda pulled some comments from Love that I don’t want to see go unnoticed:

Timberwolves two-time All-Star Kevin Love spent all summer watching LeBron James at arm’s length from Las Vegas to London, and Tuesday night he got another intimate view during a 102-93 loss at Miami that careened from early joy ride to late blowout.

The experience inspired Love to gather a couple of teammates on the bench during the final ticking minutes for a talk.

He and starting frontcourt mates Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko agreed that, together and as a team, they need to be stronger and tougher, perhaps more like a guy who has won an NBA title, three MVPs and two Olympic gold medals before his 28th birthday.

“I’m not saying we’re soft,” Love said afterward. “But we definitely need to be more physical.”

I like Kevin Love and realize that the timing and how he chose to vocalize his concerns may not have been the best, but look at his language. He’s using words like “we” and went out of his way to say that they weren’t soft– or not to be accidentally confused with throwing his teammates “under the bus”, as many accused him of doing in earlier weeks. Am I reading too much into his comments? Yeah, probably, but am I over-thinking his comments tonight anymore than people were when Woj’s piece came out? Not really.

That’s the type of leadership this team needs more of from their best player, and it’s great to see veterans like Kirilenko respect him enough to listen. The way I see it, we should be calling it both ways if we’re gonna call it at all with Love.

Notes: Wolves sat Ricky Rubio as an agreement to sit him on the second night ofback-to-backs for a while as he regains his legs. Safe to say they could’ve used him tonight on the defensive end.

Next up: The Wolves come home from their tumultuous Florida tour to take on the OKC Thunder at home on Thursday night.