They got our number; Wolves lose 96-90

Clippers outmuscle Wolves in 96-90 victory

Blake Griffin is proving he’s the player everyone thought he was, and tonight certainly helped his case

Three Positives:

Jonah: The return of Nikola Pekovic and Alexey Shved was highly anticipated. Without them the Wolves obviously suffered from sheer lack of talent and general bodies to sustain any run let alone carve out a win. In their comeback tonight, they led the way with 29 combined points on 13-28 shooting. It wasn’t the greatest numbers game for either of them but their presence alone was enough to spark a few different runs and at least make the game interesting down to the wire. They’ll be the key to any kind of run down the stretch of this season. It won’t be easy but they’ll be overwhelmingly helpful if the team musters up enough grit and determination.

Tom: “WELCOME BACK, RICKY!!!!” -Me, sobbing as I watched this pass on repeat.

Derek: You know how you make your crappy 3-10 shooting night all but disappear? Make 7-8 free throws! It really makes Andrei Kirilenko’s statline standout a little more than it would otherwise, perhaps.

Three Negatives:

Jonah: This is supposed to be Derrick Williams’ moment. Everyone’s looking for an outstanding game night in and night out because of the lofty expectations are starting to align with the right timing. But you’re never going to impress when you commit five fouls in just 13 minutes of work. He committed three in the first half and also hit his first two and only shots of the game. Then he started the second half, picked up a quick one on a hold after DeAndre Jordan bullied him in the restricted area, and then slapping at an Eric Bledsoe drive. Maybe it’s not his fault given the fact that Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan form perhaps the most difficult to guard frontcourt in the Association, but picking up five that quickly puts you in rookie Pek territory, a place no man wants to go. It was ugly.

Tom: The pick-and-roll is integral to every NBA offense, and Minnesota is no exception. With a big man like Pek who is capable of setting monster screens and who also has excellent footwork moving to the basket, the Wolves SHOULD thrive in P&R opportunities. Not so. Minnesota’s four potential point guards (Rubio, Ridnour, Shved and Barea) accounted for nine of Minnesota’s turnovers and (in a related story), 31.3% of all P&R plays tonight ended in a turnover. I probably don’t need to tell you that that’s not a good number, but I will anyway: That’s NOT a good number.

Derek: Jonah mentioned it above, but I just can’t get past Derrick Williams’ 5 fouls in 13 minutes. I get that Blake Griffin is a tough cover, but Blake drew the foul twice. Somehow he got matched up against Eric Bledsoe, who drew the foul. I missed the Bledsoe foul, but was it a poor rotation, the result of a missed assignment or what? I ask because I’ve thought all season long his awareness and defensive instincts had improved, so this is concerning, but it one game. In case you’re wondering, the other two were involving DeAndre Jordan.

Now that the dead horse has been ceremoniously beaten, here are a couple others: The Timberwolves gave up too many offensive rebounds, and gave the Clippers too many extra possesions; that makes it tough to close games. And…never mind. I was gonna mention their three point shooting tonight, but consider that deceased horse already beaten this season.

Three Observations:

Jonah: Ricky Rubio’s starting to get more comfortable initiating the offense and even hitting some jumpers every now and then. But it’s the wide open missed layups that still get my blood to boil. He did yet again tonight against the Clippers after the abomination of an attempt the last time LA was in town.

Tom: At least the Wolves play the Lakers on Friday. The Lakers are 5-18 on the road and have lost eight in a row away from Staples with their loss to Phoenix and SUPER COOL BEAS! who won the game down the stretch for the Suns. It’s prime Laker-losing-streak snapping time.

Derek: Blake Griffin is good at basketball.

Next up: The big, bad Lakers come to Minneapolis Friday night, 8:30 pm. It’ll be televised nationally on ESPN.

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