Remember how the Wolves took such great care of the ball against the Kings, which was a huge contrast to the careless nature with the ball last season? Apparently, there is a big difference between playing a Keith Smart coached team and playing a Dwane Casey coached team.
The Wolves were disgustingly careless with the basketball. They didn’t seem to value their own defensive boards enough, giving up 16 offensive rebounds to the Raptors. Those offensive rebounds led to 21 second chance points. And then there are the turnovers — my god the turnovers! There were 24 turnovers by the Wolves in this game that resulted in 32 points for Toronto. That’s 53 points off of carelessness by the Wolves. Half of the Raptors’ points came off of carelessness. That’s disheartening.
During the last week of preseason, Rick Carlisle had this about the Mavericks’ turnovers:
“We’re doing it every way you can do it. If we were a sex manual it’d be a best-seller.”
Oh, the Wolves definitely showed their flexibility in the turnover department. Nine of the turnovers came off of steals. Of those nine steals, five came from a Wolves player just losing the ball to the defender and four of them were due to bad passes. The other 15 turnovers involved three offensive fouls, five errant passes out of bounds, two travels, one three-second violation and five counts of a player losing the ball out of bounds. The sloppiness was saturating last night.
I don’t know if it was due to great Toronto defense, horrible Wolves execution, Brandon Roy’s knees, Luke Ridnour’s back, or the exchange rate in Canada. Whatever the issues were last night, if you told me all of these factors were the reason for the loss then I’d probably believe you. The Wolves don’t have anybody to bail them out right now. With Love injured and Rubio still rehabbing, Minnesota has to play pretty competent basketball in order to get wins.
Last night was not competent basketball.
The Wolves were lucky to be in the game as long as they were (thank you, Andrei Kirilenko), considering how careless everybody was with the ball. After three quarters, Minnesota was down only six points, despite having 19 turnovers. But in the final period, we saw a team with more turnovers (five) than shots made (four). Toronto went on two runs in the fourth quarter — one of them to get some distance between the two teams and the other run put the game away.
The first run was a 9-1 run near the beginning of the fourth quarter to push the lead to 90-76. The Raptors forced the Wolves into jumpers and Minnesota simply couldn’t hit them. Chase, Dante, and Shved all missed long jumpers forced by the Raptors’ defense. And when they missed, the Raptors made them pay on the other end. The second run was a 9-0 run fueled by four DeMar DeRozan free throws when he attacked Malcolm Lee. Both runs involved a big 3-point shot by Alan Anderson, who exploded against his hometown team with 18 points off the bench.
It felt like a 20-point deficit for most of the game, and even though the Wolves did a nice job of fighting through the mistakes and trying to keep this game close for taking throughout the night, the score eventually corrected itself to the overall flow of the game.
The big news from the game was JJ Barea getting knocked out by Dante Cunningham during the second quarter. After scoring nine points in eight minutes, Barea fell to the ground and collided with Dante’s leg. He stayed on the ground (and amazingly the Wolves didn’t give up points on a 4-on-5 possession) until the Wolves regained possession and called a timeout. Barea slowly got up, walked to the locker room and failed the first concussion test administered to him.
He passed the second concussion test given to him, which means he could play tonight in Brooklyn against the Nets. But he’ll have to pass another test before he’s cleared to play.
Barea has been fantastic in his minutes through the first two games. He’s scored 30 points in 35 minutes, so losing him for any games could prove costly. In fact, it definitely cost the Wolves last night in some respect. Not saying they would have won the game with him, but it’s not insane to think he could have kept them much closer or helped them get over the hump and regain the lead at some point in the second half.
One interesting note is the Wolves’ starting lineup performed really well last night, considering the sloppiness. The lineup of Ridnour-Roy-Williams-Kirilenko-Pekovic played 20 minutes together, shot 55.6% from the field, made two-of-four 3-point shots, and got to the line 16 times. The problem is they committed 12 turnovers in that time together. They were -1 in those 20 minutes. Where the game really got away from Minnesota was with the bench. Maybe if Barea doesn’t get knocked out, it could have been a different story.
One final note: Brandon Roy was terrible. He moved fine in the first game, played 30 minutes, and just missed a lot of shots he normally knocks down. In this game, I have no idea if his knees were bad and it caused him to be terrible or if he just couldn’t get a feel for the ball. Whatever it was, he looked like he was dribbling a football out there. He seemingly had little control of where the ball would go next. People immediately get paranoid and jump to the conclusion that he’s injured and can’t be effective.
It’s fine if you want to be dramatic like that. Personally, I don’t like to get into the drama and overreaction. It just makes me so crazy I want to light myself on fire.
Roy looked good physically in the first game and looked off last night. He’s now played 52 minutes in the first two games and will go through his first back-to-back tonight in Brooklyn. Let’s see where he is after this before we start planning his next retirement ceremony.