With 42.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter of the Wolves-Lakers game, we had this exchange between Dave Benz and Jim Petersen while the game was delayed to spray blood off of the shorts of Pau Gasol:
“You do that don’t you? You sprits to get the mold off, don’t you?” – Jim Petersen
“No, I don’t sprits any furniture, Jim.” – Dave Benz
“You don’t do your own yard work. You hire it out, don’t you?” – Jim
“No, no, no. I do my own yard work. I do. 52 bags of leaves and counting at this point, for what it’s worth.” – Dave
“Well, that’s a complete waste of time. You do your own leaves?” – Jim
“I do my own leaves. I like the yard work!” – Dave
What’s the point of typing out this exchange and having it lead off the game recap for the Wolves’ victory over the Lakers? This is what we call “blowout talk” and it’s a beautiful thing. There are two kinds of blowout talk. There’s the somber dissection by a broadcasting team that involves a lot of “this team needs to do…” and “we need to start seeing [player x] assert himself…” kind of analysis. Then there’s what I’m going to call “yard work talk” the rest of this season.
“Yard work talk” is the playful banter between a play-by-play caller and the analyst sitting next to him when the game is out of line in favor of the team they’re covering. If you have a good crew with a good working relationship, you can get little nuggets like these from time to time. Sometimes it develops as the analyst telling stories of their playing days. Sometime it develops as these quick little personal stories about Dave Benz fighting off leaves in the yard like Kevin Love fights off potential rebounders.
When the Wolves are putting it on a team like the Lakers or any bad team that they should be dominating, the “yard work talk” is basically the human victory cigar. It’s the lineup of A.J. Price, Shabazz Muhammad, Robbie Hummel, Derrick Williams, and Gorgui Dieng. And if this team is going to be the team we hope it can be this season, the presence of “yard work talk” should be around roughly a dozen times.
Kevin Love had 25 points, 13 rebounds, and three assists while shooting 8/17 from the field and 4/9 from the 3-point line. Amazingly enough, you could possibly say this was his worst statistical game of the season. That’s how unreal his play and box scores have been in the first seven games of the year. 25-13-3 is underperforming in some insane way. That’s to be expected when your season averages through seven games are 26.9 points, 14.4 rebounds, and 4.7 assists. Do the numbers matter that much?
Not really. The important thing about what Kevin Love is doing isn’t so much about the individual artistry his box scores are throwing at the canvas, rather it’s about the impact he’s having on a team that’s playing pretty good basketball. They’re currently 35.7 points per 100 possessions worse on offense when he’s on the bench. The team is also 7.5 points per 100 possessions worse on defense when he’s on the sidelines. His impact on both sides of the ball is significant, showing that when Kevin Love is surrounded by talented players, he’s able to lead them to a higher ground.
These are getting out of hand, Kevin. We can’t just have you throwing these perfect 75-foot, two-handed chest passes to teammates all the time because it’s going to ruin the special nature of such a play. Look at what Blake Griffin did to dunks and what Ricky Rubio is doing to passes. At a certain point, the spectacular becomes so routine that people lose track of just how rare something like this should be considered.
More and more, Kevin Martin is looking like the perfect offensive complement to Love. After the first game, we noticed the end of game execution between the two players left a lot to be desired. After seven games, it’s starting to get to the point where you’re wondering if it can actually get better than it currently is. The two are playing at such a high offensive level, especially together, that it almost seems too good to be true in that respect. The team is +10.1 when Love and Martin are on the floor together and the defense is surprisingly good at 94.1 (overall team defense is 96.6).
Martin’s 3-point percentage of 57.1% is incredibly fun. He’s hitting at such a ridiculous clip right now that Corey Brewer isn’t even waiting for the shot to go up before he gets back on defense.
There’s probably a lot to talk about with this game but we’ll finish it on Ricky Rubio’s triple-double. 12 points, 14 assists, 10 rebounds, and five steals. He also had five turnovers in the game, but most people will excuse that because of what he was able to do. To be completely honest, I was starting to get worried about Rubio. He was in a bad funk and it didn’t look like he was getting out of it any time soon. The defense was still fantastic but his passing was getting sloppy and his scoring was abysmal.
This game doesn’t mean he’s completely out of that slump, but it was good to see him play with confidence while making a huge difference on the court. His five steals give him 17 five-steal games for his career. Since the start of the 2011-12 season (his rookie year), he leads the league in five-steal games. Chris Paul is second with 15. That’s a pretty impressive stat if you care about steals; it’s even more impressive when you remember he missed 50 games his first two seasons.
The triple-double was cool but I wasn’t a fan of him staying in the game just to get the final rebound to complete it. I get rewarding your guys and certainly Rubio capping off that kind of effort in Los Angeles was a big thing for him. But the health of the players has to come first and the team has a tough matchup Monday night in that arena.
I hadn’t mentioned the 22-game losing streak to the Lakers up until this point because while it’s something that shows the struggles of the past with this organization, it doesn’t represent the team we see before us. The Wolves are a good team and breaking that streak was nothing but a formality. This is a team that gives us “yard work talk.”