Rockets 91, Wolves 100: Show your work
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Objectivity is bullshit. Our perspectives are the result of prior experience, oftentimes influencing our decisions more than we understand. There’s nothing we can do about it other than be honest with ourselves.
The past few years have led me to think Kevin Love is a nice guy. More importantly, I think Kevin Love is a pretty smart guy. So when I see questions of suspensions bandied about, I have to wonder if I’ve been corrupted when asking, “Why?” There’s room for interpretation here, but have I stuffed it with excuses?
Monday, Luis Scola attempted to save a ball from out of bounds by throwing it at Kevin Love. It just happened to hit him in the crotch. Wednesday, Love faced one of the most physical opponents of his career in the Pacers. Friday, Love found himself embroiled in another physical matchup. Early in the third, Love felt he was fouled multiple times en route to a basket he eventually converted. So emotion was clearly a factor when he aggressively stripped–and fouled–Scola on the ensuing play.
Now let’s give Scola the benefit of the doubt and assume he wasn’t flopping as he’d just done in an effort to draw an offensive foul on Love. He’d still fallen behind Love. So when turning up court, Love’s intention was to run. Not “stomp” Scola. That much we should all be able to agree on before delving into the semantics: Kevin lifted his leg to step over Luis, who raised his arms to protect his head. So Kevin had to regain his footing. It just happened to be on Scola’s chest.
It was a cheap and unnecessary brand of one upmanship; he could’ve tried harder to avoid Scola. But he didn’t have to. Kevin wouldn’t say it was an accident and Scola wouldn’t say it was purposeful. They’re both right. Kevin shouldn’t be suspended simply for relishing in the circumstance. So let’s just salute Luis for being a good sport and remind Kevin of this the next time he expects a call to go his way.
But whatever we do, let’s not expect anyone in the commissioner’s office to be objective.
In other news, we won. Convincingly and dare I say, routinely. Not that our boys are unmistakably better than Houston’s, but we weren’t the visiting team on the second night of a back to back. Jumping out to an early lead thanks to a 33 point first (second to 35 v SAS), the Wolves held off a Rocket rally after ‘Stompgate’, continuing a pleasant trend of beating beatable teams. The particulars were familiar, but ultimately, this is a team learning to win in spite of their flaws. The question is, how to tinker with success.
The Wolves have become League Pass darlings thanks to Ricky Rubio and rightfully so. His ability to create for others is irreplaceable and in fourth quarters, practically flawless. However it’s still troubling that no one else on the team can register an assist.
Rubio is the league’s 4th leading assist man (8.9), yet the Wolves are among the bottom five (18.3) in team assists, averaging even less than last year. Granted, the lockout and a complete upheaval of the offense are to be considered, however so is the fact that nine players on the team don’t even have one assist per game. Poor shooting (20th in FG%) and turnovers (25th) reflect the instability amongst our roster. Things are moving too fast for Wes and Derrick, Martell simply isn’t moving fast enough. Meanwhile, Barea and Beasley alternately dazzle and bewilder.
They’re all battling either injuries or inexperience. This leads them into poor decisions fueled by guilt and insecurity. It’s difficult to get one such person to buy that passing is the easiest way to score, much less a group. But it’s still true.
Ironically, when asked about the lack of assists, it’s Rubio who only sees one thing.
“We’re winning, you know? Sometimes you have to share the ball, sometimes you have to be selfish to score. I think that the numbers are not the most important thing. If you only get two assists when you win the game, that’s it.”