The replacements; Wolves win 92-79

AK47 brought it on both ends tonight

Three Positives:

Jonah: The Wolves came into this game with nine healthy players, including Lou Amundson and the two newcomers signed on 10-day deals, Mickael Gelebale and Chris Johnson. In a depressed funk, the Wolves needed some energy and fresh legs, which is exactly what those two newcomers brought in this one. Gelebale brought intensity on the defensive end and was part of the reason the Rockets shot so poorly from deep, and also chipped in 11 points. And it was Johnson who brought it on the offensive end with countless dunks and, most importantly, made free throw attempts (7-8 from the line) that led to 15 points off the bench. The two actually combined to score the first 23 points of the fourth quarter. Yeah, believe that. It was truly a breath of fresh air seeing those two succeed and inject a little bit of life into the rest of the Wolves’ players. It was only right they ended the game on the court. Thoroughly deserved.

Tom: In probably the best moment of the Timberwolves season so far (seriously, if you can think of a better one tweet it at me), Minnesota chanted “M-V-P! M-V-P!” for CHRIS FREAKIN’ JOHNSON whenever he went to the free throw line in the second half. I fully support this. Not only did Johnson come in and infuse the entire lineup with energy, not only did he make a series of big plays both offensively and defensively, but he did all of that coming straight in from the D-League. Chris Johnson seized the moment and squeezed the hell out of it. It was pretty wonderful to see the fans recognize that and laud him for it, however ironically.

Derek: THE WOLVES WON!!! Seriously, after five in a row, and eleven of fifteen, this is nice. No…no don’t show me the Rockets’ shooting chart; that doesn’t matter!

Three Negatives:

Jonah: With such a shorthanded lineup and a certain lack of scoring, one would figure that JJ Barea would come through with another heroic effort. Instead, he was left to heave, which is never a recipe for success. He ended 5-13 from the floor, not bad, but also not what I would expect with the current makeup of the roster.

Tom: Well, the good news is that Derrick Williams attacked the basket repeatedly. Rather than settling for long jumpers, he drove to the hoop and threw up a variety of pump-fakes to try to get defenders in the air. The BAD news is that it didn’t actually help his field goal percentages much. Williams was 3-9 from the field and 1-3 from 3-point range.

Derek: You guys took the first two things I was going to use. They also struggled from three, committed turnovers but still forced even more, yet nitpicking like that just feels like a parent criticizing their kid for receiving a B+ instead of an A-.

Three Observations:

Jonah: Andrei Kirilenko’s tip shots are a thing of beauty. Some nights, it’s just not there. The touch, the finesse just aren’t in line to make the most of the attempts. But tonight wasn’t the case and those shots certainly helped him follow through on a 21 point game. Also, it’s worth noting that Rubio actually played 30 minutes tonight, his most of the year.

Tom: Nikola Pekovic’s absence is never a good thing for Minnesota, but having an offense that wasn’t focused around Pek tonight WAS good. When these teams met back in December, one of the biggest problems was Omer Asik’s excellent defense on Pek. Tonight, the offense was more focused on Andre Kirilenko (AND CHRIS JOHNSON!!). In most games, this would have meant a lot of 3-pointers and very few points in the paint. Tonight, it meant much of the early offense spread the defense around, and the Wolves were able to bait Asik into foul trouble that severely limited his minutes.

Derek: “Hey, is that a rain cloud?” “Nah, that’s just Derek about to attempt to kill our joy again.” “Pssh. Figures…”

Tonight was fun and great to see guys like Johnson and Gelebale get their moment. However, this is going to get a lot less fun once teams get scouting reports on these guys.

Next up: The Wolves travel to Atlanta for a one game trip on Monday at 1:00 pm.