I waited to post this recap of the game last night because I didn’t know the outcome of the game until a short time ago.
While I know there is plenty to talk about with Derrick being a scratch starter for Love right before tip-off or Pekovic being a monster against two twin towers from the Lakers or Wes continuing his good shooting from last game, the story of the game was what happened with 16 seconds left when Ricky tried to take a charge from Kobe Bryant on right left wing and we saw his knee buckle before the contact even really happened. He had to be carried back to the bench by teammates. When he tried to walk under his own power to see if he could be okay to finish the game, he took a couple of steps before knowing the pain was far too severe.
There was a lot of fight in this game by the Wolves. Without Kevin Love, the Lakers, even on the road, should be able to blow out this Minnesota squad. And yet, the team jumped all over the Lakers from the start and maintained a comfortable-ish lead throughout the first half. Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher got
hot mathematically trended upward in the third quarter. And the offensive rebounding woes that happen when you take Kevin Love out of the lineup against two of the better big men in the NBA seemed to take over at the worst times in the fourth quarter.
While one rookie had his season ended on a freak accident, I loved what Derrick Williams showed down the stretch of this game. Did he screw up royally? ABSOLUTELY. He goaltended a shot that he probably shouldn’t have touched. He drove baseline for a weak layup that Pek ended up tipping home. And he drove past Ron Artest (I’m not calling him that name) only to be stifled on a shot inside the key by Pau Gasol. Were some of them ill-advised moves? Yes, absolutely. Is it possible the Wolves suffered blown calls on some of these final possessions? They certainly did. However, seeing Derrick Williams step up to take big shots is not a typical thing you see with most rookies. He’s been doing that all year long.
The big loss didn’t come in the standings though, it came from Ricky tearing his ACL and being done for the season. I’ll have more thoughts on this as I attempt to gather them, but it’s definitely not the end of the world. It’s not like Ricky is never going to play again. A year or so from now, he’ll probably be fine and we won’t even notice that he had such an injury. It just sucks right now because he was part of what made this team so fun to watch. Last night, there was a point in which the Wolves were in transition and Rubio dropped a behind-the-back bounce pass between four defenders.
BETWEEN FOUR DEFENDERS!
Between that and everything he brought to the table every night, it just sucks we can’t continue to see him galvanize this franchise and fan base anymore this season. But there is still a season left to play. There are 25 games left and I would imagine these guys aren’t just going to give up. Kevin Love has been on a tear like we’ve rarely seen in this game. Nikola Pekovic is flanking him inside and ready to continue to dish out punishment for anybody unfortunate enough to draw him as a defensive assignment. And Luke Ridnour will now swing back from the do-whatever-his-coach-asks-of-him role player to the playmaker we saw in Seattle and Milwaukee.
The team is still in the thick of the playoffs race. Houston is without Kyle Lowry for a bit as he nurses a strained groin. Portland is in shambles right now and could go through some big changes on the roster. And Utah… well we don’t really know what they’re doing either but Devin Harris is heavily involved.
All we can do right now is hope Ricky has a speedy and healthy recovery with this rehabilitation process. Wolves can bounce back against the Hornets tonight. Get well soon, Ricky.