I don’t want to take anything from the Raptors because they outplayed the Wolves last night. However, I can’t help but feel like Minnesota just gave this game away.
The perimeter defense was spotty, they allowed too many trips to the free throw line, and finished just 12/30 at the rim. Raptors blocked nine shots. The Wolves weren’t strong with the ball around the basket and let Toronto be the aggressor with more energy on both ends of the floor. Execution continues to be a problem for most of the units the Wolves put out there. There are stretches in which the offense is running like a machine. But these stretches need to be extended from minutes to entire quarters.
With that brief little expulsion, here are my grades for last night’s game:
|Wesley Johnson, SG 19 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -12I’ll give Wes this: His defense was pretty okay in this game. There wasn’t much at the small forward position for him to guard but he had a couple of good possessions against DeMar DeRozan. Wes’ shooting confidence is completely shot. He’s been so bad on offense, I actually got giddy when he passed to a cutter early in the game.|
|Kevin Love, PF 36 MIN | 3-16 FG | 5-10 FT | 14 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | -20Kevin Love was completely dominated by Amir Johnson. While Amir Johnson is a pretty decent defender, I’m not sure that should ever happen. He was 1/10 from inside nine feet on the floor. He wasn’t even making free throws. Maybe this compacted schedule is starting to get to him a bit? It’s fun that we can call a 13 and 14 game from him a bad game, but that only matters for our fantasy teams.|
|Darko Milicic, C 18 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -11Darko rebounded well when he was on the floor, but he looked completely helpless trying to defend Andrea Bargnani when they were matched up with each other. It was a necessary evil with not wanting Love to tire himself out on defense. And he only missed four of his seven shots in the paint!|
|Luke Ridnour, PG 30 MIN | 6-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | -31Didn’t think Luke ran the team very well to start the game, but he also helped keep them close in the first quarter with a scoring burst of nine points. Luke hasn’t been much of a playmaker this season. His assist rate is at a career-low 20.8%, but he has a career-high 60% true shooting percentage so far. This game was a pretty good showing for those two stats.|
|Wayne Ellington, G 23 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | -21Really enjoy the job Wayne has done as a defender this season. He’s probably too short to be a consistently productive defensive player, but his effort and positioning has been really good. The Wolves still need him to knock down shots though. He wasn’t useless in this game, but he wasn’t meaningful either. He has to make shots to warrant playing over Wes right now, which is kind of a scary thought.|
|Anthony Tolliver, PF 24 MIN | 0-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +14AT once again played a lot of solid defense and was a part of lineups that had positive plus/minus numbers up until the end of the game. It could just be blind luck that AT is on the court at these times, but he’s kind of like the Wolves’ version of Nick Collison. Things just seem to get done. He has to be a threat on the perimeter though. When he gets open looks, they need to go in.|
|Jose Juan Barea, PG 17 MIN | 5-9 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 16 PTS | +21First game back for JJ was a success. He scored efficiently and helped spark the second unit into making up some ground. However, he dribbled the ball way too much. I don’t mind him handling the ball a lot in pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops, but there are times in which he pounds out the shot clock.|
|Anthony Randolph, PF 15 MIN | 2-4 FG | 5-5 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | +2This is exactly what Anthony Randolph’s role should be on the team. He’s essential the Chris Andersen of the Wolves. Put him in for 10-15 minutes. If he can provide activity and a spark on the floor, that’s great. If not, get him the heck off the hardwood. Loved how aggressive he was around the hoop and didn’t try to do too much with the ball.|
|Ricky Rubio, PG 30 MIN | 2-9 FG | 5-7 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 10 PTS | +1That field goal percentage is falling quickly and part of it is Ricky being a little hesitant lately on his scoring decisions. Especially when he went to the basket, Rubio seemed unsure what to do. He had three shots at the rim and three shots at the rim blocked. One of them was possibly him trying to dunk the ball, which would have melted the internet. Overall, his decision-making on offense was pretty good. He’s becoming predictable on crosscourt passes. Scouting could be catching up to him and he needs to adjust.|
|Derrick Williams, F 28 MIN | 4-11 FG | 5-5 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | +7Derrick wasn’t a very good shooter in this game, but he had the most shots attempted at the rim since opening night against OKC. He was aggressive and even had a nice pump fake and drive for a vicious dunk. He was also extremely active on the boards and his defense wasn’t bad either. He’s had back-to-back really good games, even though his shot has been off.|
Five Things We Saw
- 14-2 run for Toronto in the 4th. Wolves were up 80-77 after starting the fourth quarter with an 11-4 run. Over the next 6:18 of the quarter, the Wolves missed 10 straight shots. Three of those misses were blocked. Wolves really executed poorly and didn’t go strong to the basket. They let Toronto take control of this game by bullying them.
- When the 3s don’t fall… I understand that this team was dead-eye shooting the 3-ball last year and maybe it’s just a bad stretch to start this shortened season. But when the long-range shots aren’t falling, there has to be an alternative. Rubio is driving the lane and the paint is being occupied. When this happens, someone from the weak side needs to be cutting to the basket. Rubio will find them and it will keep the defense honest.
- Is it time to go über big? This is probably me just being stupid, but I’d actually love to see the Wolves experiment with a lineup of Rubio-Williams-Tolliver-Love-Randolph for a couple minutes at some point. I don’t see this as a long-term solution because the perimeter defense would be rough. But if they’re rotating and helping, it might provide a decent spark at some point.
- Still too many turnovers. 16 turnovers in a 91-possession game isn’t horrendous, but the seven turnovers in the second quarter really kept the Wolves from taking control of this game in the first half. Adelman’s petition didn’t go through yet, did it?
- Did Love get worked on the boards? It’s weird to think that Love ending up with 14 rebounds could mean he got worked on the boards, but Amir Johnson grabbed eight offensive rebounds last night. The worst part about it was Kevin being on the floor for every single one of them. This was the first time in a long time I can remember Love not boxing out nearly every time down the floor. He was also slow to get back on defense for a few possessions and Amir took advantage. Too many second chance opportunities for the Raptors.
And here are two of the highlight dunks from last night:
The up-fake and drive by Williams needs to be a staple of his game. Also, really was afraid Randolph blew out his knee. Then I was afraid he knocked himself out on the stanchion. Neither ended up being true. Praise the Tebow he’s okay.