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Jonah: This game was essentially made of two runs. The first by the Lakers, who shot ridiculously efficient from the field in the first, and the second, where the Wolves’ grittiness brought them within four in the fourth quarter. The rebuttal run by the Wolves was awfully impressive, given the current state and make up of this currently squandering team. Much of it was due to the uptempo pace that Ricky Rubio ignited by running the court, leading breaks, etc. It was a small glimpse of the Unicorn from last season. It’s reassuring to know that the magic is still within.
Tom: I think Zach Harper said it best on Twitter (@TalkHoops) as the final moments ticked away: “Wolves are on a 64-46 run right now. Unfortunately, there was that minor 61-32 Lakers run to start the game.”
I suppose we could count Minnesota’s 3-point shooting as a positive. My random Timberwolves 3-point generator (take any number between 2-5 and any number between 15-22, squish them together and have Minnesota’s 3-point FGs for any given night) doesn’t apply for this game: The Wolves shot a very efficient 10-22 for 45% from 3-point range. Nice to see at least one night that wasn’t a total wash for Minnesota from behind the arc.
Derek: Chris Johnson, you guys. 3-4, 8-5-2 in 11 minutes and just one foul and turnover. I know we’re still in small sample size territory, but the fact that he’s still productive as the sample grows is something I’m watching.
Jonah: The biggest issue I had with tonight’s game was Adelman’s stubborness to make a switch on defense after such a poor showing in the first half. I mean, try something, anything. He threw out a small lineup of JJ Barea, Alexey Shved and Rubio at one point to no avail. He left Luke Ridnour to fend for his own guarding Kobe Bryant the majority of the first half. Once he decided to make a real change by switching to a 2-3 zone, it was just too big of a hole to dig out of. A lot of it was the lack of intensity and sheer effort on defense that left Lakers open for numerous open jumpers — they went 10-13 from three to start the game. But I really was surprised and disappointed by both the coach and players’ effort on that end.
Tom: Basketball-Reference.com lists Chris Johnson’s points per 36 minutes at 19.3. I’m not saying that Johnson would be averaging 19.3 ppg if he got 36 minutes to play, but I’m not saying he wouldn’t either. Actually, yeah, I’ll say that he wouldn’t, never mind. But he deserves more than 11 minutes, especially when he puts up eight points on four shots and five rebounds in those minutes. Come on, Rick. #FreeChrisJohnson.
Derek: Every Timberwolves blogger tonight is going to talk about this being a tale of two runs, which Jonah covered nicely in the positives. I want to use this space to bitch about the free throw shooting. The Lakers shot 18-25 for 84%, but the Wolves went 8-18 for 44%. Additionally, eleven points was the margin of victory. I’m not expecting them to make all of them, but 44% is going to make your comeback effort much more difficult at any level of basketball, nevertheless the NBA.
Jonah: Mike D’Antoni was asked about the Wolves’ zone defense in the second half that led to some awfully poor shooting by the Lakers, and he responded, “It made us think.”
How this man is head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers right now is beyond me.
Tom: Even with Pek’s return to the lineup, the Wolves allowed LA to win the boards 57-40. 57 rebounds! Especially damaging: 17 of those rebounds were offensive. In the end, second chances opportunities killed Minnesota. You know, along with everything else.
Derek: I know Kobe is just a competitive person in general, but did anyone else get the impression from his on-court body language alone that he really, really doesn’t like losing to the Timberwolves. I mean, he tried to fight Pek for a rebound and only gave up the pursuit once Pek started throwing ‘bows to fend off Kobe.
Next up: Home stand continues as Wolves take on Hornets Saturday night.