2011 preseason: Wolves get a taste for that venison

Zach Harper —  December 22, 2011 — 4 Comments

Two preseason games are in the book and the Wolves finish the 2011 preseason with two wins.

The first game was a whirling dervish of dribble penetration, kickout passes, and 3-pointers blanketing the Target Center like pure virgin snow. We were dazzled by even the simplest of tasks performed by Ricky Rubio. We reveled in the double point guard lineup that would have made the Double Rainbow guy lose his guano. We got to witness Michael Beasley isolations a plenty, Kevin Love doing ridiculous double-double efforts in limited minutes, and Derrick Williams showing us just how deadly and exciting he can be from all over the court.

Game two was a bit different, and probably more rewarding than the first game drubbing the Wolves put on the Bucks. This game was a STRUGGLE. They had to play Luke Ridnour and Malcolm Lee extended minutes at the point, with Ricky and JJ Barea staying home. It looked a lot like the Wolves from yesteryear, trying to manufacture structure and continuity despite being extremely sloppy with the ball.

Wolves were frustrated by the typically physical and opportunistic Milwaukee defense all night. Like a street side Three Card Monte dealer, your money was gone before you even knew you were playing the game. Milwaukee led 84-73 with 2:23 left in the contest. Then Kevin Love reminded everybody why he’s one of the toughest covers in the NBA. He made a hook shot inside. Then he tricked rookie Jon Leuer into fouling him on a 3-pointer. Next possession down, he drew a foul against Drew Gooden for two more free throws.

However with the Bucks up four points and just 20 seconds left in the game, I nearly gave up on the contest. I was very close to changing the channel to see how Rockets-Jazz was shaping up. I’m glad I didn’t miss what happened. Luke Ridnour stole an inbounds pass by Darrington Hobson. He kicked it for Love for a 3-pointer that brought the Wolves within one – 10 points for Love in just 1:43 of action. Ridnour then stole a horrendous inbound decision by Larry Sander, the Wolves found Beasley inside and he was fouled.

He dropped two icicles (frozen daggers) from the free throw line to put the Wolves up one, and then got a defensive stop when Leuer missed a jumper and the Bucks couldn’t convert the offensive rebound.

Even though it was a meaningless preseason win, I loved the end of this game for the Wolves. Sure, they Love and Beas going against a bunch of second-stringers for Milwaukee in the closing moments. But I like that Adelman just let them play and figure it out. Off the second Luke steal, some coaches would call a timeout and set up a play. Instead of doing that, the Wolves didn’t allow Milwaukee to discuss things and set up their defense. The Wolves just had to figure it out on their own and they showed a lot of maturity and tranquility in a moment of chaos and fervor that we would not have seen last year. It was a fun way to end the preseason.
I’ll have player-by-player bullet notes from the two preseason games up this afternoon. It’s so good to have basketball back.

What did you think of the two games?

Zach Harper

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4 responses to 2011 preseason: Wolves get a taste for that venison

  1. I’m excited but worried. They still have some of the problems they had last year (mainly turn overs.) Beasley still looks like the same selfish guy from last year. AR looks lost and over agressive. But they also seem more settled. They didn’t get rattled or over excited at the end of the game and lose it with stupid mistakes or allow the Bucks to get back in it. I trust Adelman as a coach and that will hoepfully be the difference this year. Monday will be a true test. Does Luke R look disintrerested? Do you think he is just waiting to be moved and is a little upset about it? I know he had a had summer is just tired and out of game shape?

  2. Luke basically said that this summer, he didn’t care about anything basketball related because of what his family went through with his son. I can’t imagine what that was like and I wonder if it’s hard getting back into that mindset.

    Reserving judgment on him for a few months to see if he can get himself motivated and fired up a bit. But I thought he looked pretty decent last night.

  3. I think what we saw last night was basically last year’s team plus Derrick Williams who didn’t make much of an impact. The difference between that game and Saturday’s game showed what having a pair of guards concerned with pace and control makes for this squad. Rubio and Barea really give this team structure that Ridnour just can’t. I like having Luke on the team as a veteran guy who can get you points off the bench. But the Wolves need Rubio or Barea starting and controlling the game with their facilitating and their penetration and dishing. Love was great in the clutch last night and looked like a veteran.
    It was disheartening to see the Mopey brothers, Beasley and Darko, being so overwrought with every miss. On the other hand, I think Malcolm Lee is a good find in the second round and showed some offense to go with the defense he is known for.
    As you tweeted, Zach, Anthony Randolph was stunningly bad. Pekovic actually didn’t get in foul trouble in the time he saw but is not a factor, either.
    The two guys I’m watching are Wes and Wayne. If they can defend consistently, not turn the ball over, make good decisions and provide some scoring, then the two guard spot will have a bit of stability. But if they fall asleep defensively, make bad decisions, turn the ball over, and don’t hit the shots they get in the flow of the offense, then the Wolves will have a big hole at the off guard spot.
    Can’t wait for Monday night!

  4. Just excited to see a season start with a quality coach and players that will get better, hopefully rallying the fanbase to make Target Center bumpin’ again.

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