Game Analysis

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.”

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0 thoughts on “Rockets 91, Wolves 100: Show your work

  1. Props to Scolla, I love the guys attitude and his play!

    As for the stomp, I think it was unnecessary and think Love has been doing way to much complaining of late. And yes, I am and always have been a Wolves fan. The constant complaining has been epidemic league wide this year and I for one would not be upset seeing the league instruct the refs to start handing out fouls like they did early last year.

    They’re .500, and I’m not satisfied! 🙂

  2. I hate guys flopping. I hate it even more if they’re on my team. Scola flopped twice there, first on Love’s basket and then on the strip. Love slaps the ball away cleaning and scola dives like he was axed. He totally deserved to be stomped at.

  3. Unbelievable that you try to defend Love’s actions. First, let me state that I am a huge K-Love fan and I don’t think he should be suspended.

    I play basketball though. If you bring down your arm like an axe on another players arms violently, you are trying to send them a message. That’s what Love tried to do, and he took a step to far by using his chest as a stepping stool.

    When a player is on the ground, and in your way, you do everything possible to not step on them. Love looks down at him before he steps, and brings his foot down with effort on his chest. Inexcusable. No suspension, but this hurt his reputation quite a bit.

  4. Huge UCLA and timberwolves homer here and I can’t believe anyone is trying to excuse this from Love. He is a great player and everything he has done so far seems to suggest he is a nice guy but you lose credibility when you can’t acknowledge the obvious. He purposely stepped on Scola’s chest. That is Bush league and as fans he owes us better than that. Still a big fan of his but this is a low moment.

  5. Am I the only person that is getting sick of Love complaining to the refs while the opposing team is down the court scoring? His on the court drama is getting old and the refs need to put a stop to it. Him bitching to a ref while he half ass’ it down the court should be a delay of game technical foul. He is distracting the officials when they need to be regulating the game. The game doesnt stop because you want to argue a call Kevin!!!!

  6. I’m not trying to excuse Love. I said it was a cheap and unnecessary brand of one upmanship, which indeed it was. I’m also saying that it’s not worthy of a suspension. He didn’t turn around with the intention to step on Scola’s chest, but he didn’t try to stop it from happening either.

  7. I think this incident has got way too much attention.

    The media is out to find some flaw in Kevin Love, really, and this was their best opportunity.

    As said above, his first instinct was to run down the floor. What was Luis doing on the floor anyway? Nevermind.

    The Wolves are at .500, a huge accomplishment. Now we just need to get one game over .500 and build.

  8. I’m not really sure you’re being objective about this at all Myles. Love clearly put some force behind that stomp. He certainly didn’t plan it but saw an opportunity to retaliate. If you can’t see that from the video, Love’s after game comments of “heat of the moment” certainly doesn’t sound like a man who committed an accident.

    1. That’s exactly what I said. It wasn’t intentional, but he didn’t avoid it once he saw it happening. In fact, he took advantage of it. It wasn’t an accident. I just don’t think he should be suspended for it.

  9. These are all relatively common practices by grown and competitive men in a physical game, no different from a hard foul to send a message or swinging elbows high. Kevin stepped on someone under his feet. He didn’t “stomp” on him. He didn’t “kick him in the face”. Those are both heated exaggerations from the Rockets broadcasters and regurgitated by several others. We can’t long for the 80’s-90’s and then recoil with disgust when things like this happen.

    I’m not approving Kevin’s actions, I’m just not as outraged as everyone else.

  10. These are relatively common practices? Relatively, is the key word here. Hard fouls are alright and high elbows are alright. However, if you connect on a deliberate high elbow to a players face than there are negative consequences (ejection, fines, and maybe suspension), the same with hard fouls as there are lines you don’t cross. Stomping (I’m not sure what term you would prefer to use when someone puts force behind stepping on someone’s chest) a player while on the ground is a dirty move and should be punished. I’m not outraged, think Love is a still an admirable guy who got caught up “in the heat of the moment” but he needs a game or two suspension.

    This isn’t the 80s and 90s where hard fouls and retaliation were less frowned upon, as there is a lot more money involved nowadays that owners and players don’t want that kind of stuff just so the fans want a more gritty game.

  11. Love is complaining a lot because the reffing has been terrible as a whole this year. He is getting Dwight contact with 80 less free throws this year. This was a heat of the moment situation as he was absolutely hammered the play before and didn’t get the call. Should he have stomped on Scola? No, but had the refs called the initial hack by Love or Scola given Love the opportunity to put his foot elsewhere (the replay doesn’t show a whole lot of options for his foot to go without him falling over because of Scola’s arm placement) then this would have never happened. Love doesn’t have the athleticism of a Griffin to go over people so those body banging calls aren’t being called as much even though they are there because they aren’t as obvious. The NBA desperately needs some consistency from there refs if they want to prevent superstars for complaining as much as they have this year. Hopefully this will just involve a fine and we can move on from this low point in Love’s career as a clean player.

  12. I agree with Kyle, the refs have been terrible so far this season. And I don’t just mean that they haven’t called enough fouls for the wolves. I mean they have been terrible regardless of who plays. I’ve watched several games other than the wolves and cringed at some of the calls. But it’s the same for all teams as far as I can see. No team is favored by the bad calls.

    Love complains way too much to the refs about missed calls and should have had several technicals called on him already. I hope he starts to get called for these so he can realize that complaining isn’t good and stop doing that. As someone else mentioned, he does stay at offense yelling at the refs while the opponents make an easy basket 5 on 4.

    As I mentioned earlier, I hate flopping. Doesn’t matter who does it, I hate it. Scola is a well known flopper and didn’t get the calls, the one where Love scored just before the stomp, and the one where Love stripped him. Maybe Love did hit his arm there, but because Scola exaggerated it so much be falling to the floor like a dying opera diva, he didn’t get the call. If he hadn’t done that he would have had a bigger chance at getting the call. So when I said he deserved to get stomped at it is because of his action. Did Love do the right thing. No, he didn’t. He didn’t have a whole lot of space, but he could have avoided Scola pretty easily, At least he didn’t have to step so hard. You can easily see that he is pushing off on Scola’s chest. Because of that he should be suspended. It will hurt the wolves a lot, but he still should get a suspension. Just like Carlisle should have gotten one. Maybe they are more willing to suspend a player than a coach.

  13. Not to excuse Love – it was a cheap move which I think he made on purpose, and he has been complaining some. But, Scola is every bit the cheap shot artist and a flopper. In this case, I think Love was just paying him back for the shot on the groin. You can tell Scola thinks the same thing by his reaction to the whole incident – two big guys just getting rough with each other in the paint.

    If I’m the commissioner, at worst I call each player back to their corners, give them a talking to and move on. If anyone were to call for Love to be suspended then I’d say Scola deserves the same. I mean the guy deliberately through the ball at another man’s groin? What guy purposefully tries to go after another man in the jewels?

  14. If I were handing out discipline, I would suspend him for one game. I wouldn’t call it a “stomp.” He stepped with force, but no more force than a guy would use when starting to run down court. Yeah, he saw it was happening and could/should have gone off balance and been slower down the court to avoid it. I don’t think there’s an argument that he shouldn’t have.

    But he didn’t go out of his way to do it. It wasn’t terribly hard. And the guy flopped and had his arms up, catching his foot. Love’s actions were still HIGHLY disappointing to see, but I think that anything more than 1 game is excess.

  15. Falco Lombardi says:
    February 6, 2012 at 7:14 am

    Kevin Love’s not a superstar.

    Name 15 players in this league that are better, then back up your list with facts.

  16. Nate says:
    February 6, 2012 at 7:24 pm
    Falco Lombardi says:
    February 6, 2012 at 7:14 am

    Kevin Love’s not a superstar.

    Name 15 players in this league that are better, then back up your list with facts.

    So because he’s in the top 15 players in the NBA that automatically makes him a superstar? Then there has to be 15 superstars in the NBA, is that like a rule? Or is he just putting up superstar numbers?

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