Nuggets 78, Wolves 74: Making a Statement
OK down 3 at home to a 12-23 opponent after a team meeting + successful return of Pek. Next 6 mins the time to make statement, up or
— brittrobson (@brittrobson) January 7, 2016
The Wolves didn’t win this game. They didn’t even reach double digit scoring in the 4th quarter.
The statement has been the same over the past 2 weeks, and even beyond (as well-written in William Bohl’s last recap). With the exception of the Pistons game, the Wolves have given themselves a chance every night, but have made life difficult on themselves by taking (and missing) bad shots. The defense is there at times (it was excellent tonight), but the shots have rarely gone in for them this year. Especially lately.
There are lots of fingers to be pointed in this case. Of course, Sam Mitchell has been the first target for most of the season, and for good reason. The Wolves have stretches where their (arguably overly) simple offensive schemes have broken down. The most common one I’ve seen have been where a post player (often Towns or Dieng) halt an isolation already in progress (often by Andrew Wiggins, sometimes by Towns).
The lack of spacing is something Sam Mitchell has noticed and noted several times in press conferences.
That happened tonight, along with a slew of other things. Players weren’t filling on the break properly, pick and rolls weren’t executed crisply, and offensive flow wasn’t great when the ball wasn’t in Ricky Rubio’s hands.
Even with Rubio, the ball isn’t going into the hoop enough, even on the break with Ricky’s athletic targets to throw to. As it stands, the Wolves have the 5th worst offensive rating in the league. In addition, their points off turnovers is also in the bottom five. This is all while the Wolves’ D, especially with the starting 5, has been solid. In tonight’s game, they held the Wolves to 35 percent shooting, but only notched 4 points off 11 turnovers.
Andrew Wiggins forced some shots early, and when he couldn’t get going, the coaching staff still trusted him to take shots
The Wolves now have consecutive losses to the Pistons, Bucks, 76ers, and Nuggets, with title contenders coming up on the schedule. If this last streak of games was any statement or indication, the pessimist in me thinks it’s terrifying to look ahead. But hey, there’s one bright spot of tonight’s game.
PEK IS BACK!!
The fun news of tonight’s game wasn’t just that Nikola Pekovic returned to the Wolves’ lineup tonight. It was that he was the Wolves’ most efficient offensive player on the floor. His competition for that title wasn’t plentiful tonight, but it would be hard to beat Pek’s efficiency tonight. He had 12 points on 4 shots in 15 minutes. The advanced stats will look nice for Pek the next 48 hours.
At any rate, on most nights, it will be nice to have a guy to dump the ball into for offense in the second unit. With Zach LaVine’s continued struggles and the continued uncertainty at the backup point guard, having Pek as a steady option is all the more important in the short term.
Meanwhile, the Wolves have a lot to figure out. With the struggles they’ve had against lesser teams, what are they going to do over their next 3 games, where they face off against Cleveland, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Houston, and Oklahoma City (again!)?
There’s lots to figure out, but for now, the Wolves have made a statement. Just not the one they wanted.