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Jonah: Dante Cunningham all but solidified himself as Kevin Love’s ultimate backup for when he misses games, such as today’s. His intensity off the bench is unmatched and he just flat out knows his game. Defense, hustle and midrange jumpers. That’s what he does best and he sticks to it. Anything else he does on the court is just a bonus, especially the fact that he doesn’t try to do too much with the ball. When he does catch the rock, it’s always a catch and shoot situation from midrange, and it’s oh so sweet how easy he makes it look. He was very impressive tonight, making Love’s absence seem a little less noticeable, especially in the box score.
Tom: Minnesota won so many important area in that game. The Wolves outrebounded New York, outshot them from 3-point range, dished out more assists and had more points in the paint. It’s also interesting that Minnesota was able to grab 13 offensive rebounds against a team that currently employs Tyson Chandler.
Derek: Don’t confuse this with a moral victory, but we almost beat the East’s best/second-best team (record-wise) without our best player. That’s…not…bad…
Jonah: What seems to be an ongoing trend this season is the lack of fire in the fourth quarter from the Wolves. It happens more often than not, when the shots don’t fall, they seem to lose hope and lose it quickly. Carmelo Anthony was there to answer the Wolves’ fourth quarter woes and did it swiftly. Ending a quarter shooting 1-of-11 from the field never bodes well. Melo should and will beat you in that scenario 10 times out of 10.
Tom: That killer Melo and-1 wasn’t the reason Minnesota lost (Jonah will get to this in the observations), but man. Carmelo kicked out his leg, flailed his arm and made the play look foul-ish, but Kirilenko’s defense was pretty clean, and that was such an important juncture in the game. Again, the Wolves lost this game themselves, but they certainly got some assistance in doing so.
Derek: If you hold the Knicks to 23% from three, you think that you would be able to come away with the win, but they didn’t. They kept the Knicks from doing one of the things they do best, but that fourth quarter killed them.
Jonah: It was arguably the poorest officiated game of the year. The Wolves slumped at the worst possible moment but there were times they should’ve been bailed out by some calls. Instead, it was WWE Smackdown on a two-minute timer that ultimately swung the outcome. Awfully disappointing to see.
Tom: I know I’m biased, but which is more impressive: Stiemsma timing his jump perfectly, avoiding Smith’s arm and rejecting a strong dunk attempt out of bounds, or Smith’s dunk on Stiemsma? Smith’s dunk was impressive, but to me, Stiemsma’s block and his subsequent decision to challenge the second dunk attempt was way more impressive.
Derek: Not sure I could’ve been more off with my lineup projection — that’s what happens when you write it five hours in advance — but I love how Adelman countered the Knicks’ smallball lineup with a Ridnour-Barea-Shved-Kirilenko-Pekovic one of their own to start the game.
Next up: Wolves head back home Wednesday night to take on James Harden and the new-look Rockets for the first time this season.