A valiant effort; Wolves lose 102-97


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Batum, Matthews lead Blazers over Wolves
Nic Batum made Wolves fans cringe tonight since botching their RFA quest for him this summer

Two Positives:

Jonah: The news of Kevin Love’s injury is a crushing blow for this entire team but it also bears a silver lining. There’s an opportunity for someone, anyone, to step up the way Chase Budinger did in the earlier part of the season. Now, based off of consistency issues throughout his career thus far, Derrick Williams is going to have to do a lot to make that special impact, and one that fans have been expecting ever since he was drafted, really. His fourth quarter tonight was just inspiring and what I think supercharged the Wolves into their miraculous comeback. Down 19 with 10:42 left in the quarter, Williams started a run, scoring nine straight points on his own. He didn’t stop there as he finished with 18 in the fourth. Like I said, who knows if he’ll be able to repeat these kinds of games because we’ve never really seen it from him before. But with the extra minutes up for the taking, it’s hard not to think that he won’t see the bulk of those ticks and try to make something of it as he did tonight.

Derek: If there’s one positive of the Love injury, it’s that we get to see more Andrei Kirilenko in the box score. 15-7-2 last night, and on most nights he’s able to be a factor. I don’t want to say I’m looking forward to Love’s absence, but I hate it less knowing Kirilenko is still there. Now, if they have to play him 40+ minutes to get by, that’s a different issue.

Two Negatives:

Jonah: Before the Wolves made their fourth quarter comeback, I was ready to pack it in and hit the sheets. I spent the bulk of my evening hyping myself up for the Minnesota Vikings Wild Card bout with the Green Bay Packers and this matchup with the Blazers. But then the Love news landed; the whiskey started flowing; the Vikings started choking; and the Blazers started raining threes and that was my night. The run at the end there still gives me hope that this team isn’t ready to throw in the white flag yet but, regardless, the feelings are still stuck in my gut. It’s Minnesota sports, and anyone who’s been a long-time fan understands how things work around here; we expect the worst and hope for the best, and things may never change around these parts.

Derek: It’s understandably deflating to lose your best player for an extended period of time just hours before the game, but I can’t bring myself to let the first three quarters slide. Especially since they rallied together as a team in Denver on Thursday to put the game away after Love left the game. You can’t expect to win too often in the NBA when you only come to play twenty-five percent of a game.

Two Observations:

Jonah: Wesley Matthews is a bonafide Wolf killer, especially at the Target Center. Twice there he’s scored over 30 points including a cool 26 last night. His weapon of choice? The three ball, of course. Last night he converted on 5-6 attempts from beyond, and back on Jan. 7th, just a year ago, he hit 7-10 from three-point land to go on his way to 36 points, his career high, in that one. The Wolves don’t have and never have had anyone strong enough to cover Matthews one-on-one. It showed last night.

Derek: Nikola Pekovic hip strain? Because who else could get hurt this season.

Next up: The Wolves get a little rest — hopefully allowing Ricky Rubio to return — and then take on the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night at the Target Center.