Wolves win, 99-82
1. I was in attendance for this beautiful game and let me just say this, wow. Wow. World of Warcraft...wow. Electric energy. Maybe not a must win, but after losing three very close games dropping a 4th to begin the season would have been difficult to stomach. So what do they do? The Minnesota Timberwolves came out and throttled the defending NBA Champs. You shoulda been there. It was one of those games where you couldn't help but get out of your seat and yell shit at the court from the upper deck. I'm enjoying this way more than a grown man probably should, but shit, fuck it. I, and many like me, have endured so many bleak years with this team that this brief, very brief, glimmer of legitimate hope for the future is more enjoyable than it would be to the casual observer. Fuck it, we deserve to enjoy the shit out of this.
2. Ok, so maybe it wasn't a total throttling. The teams were tied after 1. Wolves up 9 at the half. Mavs cut it to 5 in the 3rd. Then the Wolves asserted their will in the 4th and ended up winning by 17. The most impressive thing about the overall game is how this Wolves team stood up to every Mavs run and answered with a run of their own. All Wolves teams between the years 2005-2010 would have collapsed under the psychotic scoring ability of Dirk and company. But not this team, and that's largely a credit to Rick Adelman. They went punch for punch with OKC and Miami but came up inches short. Not tonight. All the little things they did to shoot themselves in the foot throughout the first three games they cleaned up and put one on the Champs.
3. Kevin Love. 25 pts, 17 rebs, 5-6 on 3pt shots. It's a shame that stat lines like those can begin to seem ordinary when a guy does it enough. Again, here's what really matters about those numbers - he did it in a win. Not just any win, but a win against a team that is supposedly way better than his own AND he did it in the clutch. Midway through the 4th Dallas had cut the Wolves lead to 2 and the all too familiar appearance of another collapse crept back into our minds. You could feel it in the air. The very next possession Love drills a step back three right in some clueless mother fucker's face, and the Mavs would never get that close again. Doing it when the game is on the line. I've always said, that's what separates the good from the great.
4. Once again, Ricky Rubio plays the entire 4th quarter. He finished with 14 points, 7 assists and 3 rebs in 26 minutes of play. I'm a rube, no doubt about it. But I feel like I'm a pretty critical rube, which if you know that about me you know I've never said this about another Wolves player, at least not since the glory days of KG. Ricky Rubio was masterful in this game. Him and Love were instrumental in the convincing nature of the win. Play after play Rubio commanded the offense. He was moving around the perimeter with complete confidence, setting his teammates up with wide open looks and when the defense dared him to beat them with his supposed subpar offensive capabilities, he did just that. I went to the game with former Court Electric owners, the Brothers Zerr, and all three of us and virtually every other person in the arena were stunned with how efficiently he took the game over. Maybe we're just starved for that sort of ability around these parts, but I tend to think it was more than that.
5. Easily the third most valuable player in this game was Anthony Tolliver. He played excellent defense on Dirk. Clearly Tolliver got in his head - Dirk's frustration was obvious by his persistent tantrum throwing. AT got his typical hustle boards and hit three massive three pointers, including the one that Rubio delivered on a stunning between the legs of Dirk pass, which for all intents and purposes ended the game and sent the fan energy level through the roof of Target Center.
6. Giving credit where credit is due, Luke Ridnour had his best game of the year. He limited his turnovers and took (and made) some timely jumpers. I've been brutal on the guy but he had a good game.
7. Lamar Odom has vaulted into my 5 least favorite NBA players list. I noticed him acting like a little bitch a lot last year with the Lakers and now with the Mavs it seems like he's made the full-time transition to punk ass bitch. He's lazy and I suspect gutless. No heart. Deserving of the Kardashian he got.
8. Unfortunately, it's not all sunny in Wolvesland. There are certain individuals who continue to struggle. Interestingly enough, I attribute it somewhat to the fact that the team as a whole is beginning to play well, which is now exposing those who play against the grain more so than they would have been on last year's totally dysfunctional team. Giving Ridnour a free pass for the moment, Wes Johnson, Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph can't quite get their shit together. Wes strikes me as an intelligent player who is out of position and really headfucked right now. I think his confidence is at an all-time low and he's thinking way too hard about every little thing he is doing on the court. The dude needs to step back and get his mind right before it gets really out of hand. Beas and Randolph I think are a little more complicated. They are extremely talented but hamstrung by low basketball IQs. They just don't seem to get it. For every good thing they do they seem to quickly counter it with one mind numbingly stupid thing. Players like that can't be trusted when the game is on the line. That's more damning for Beasley than Randolph, but ultimately good for neither.
9. Before any Debbie Downers out there feel the need to check me on my enthusiasm, let me beat you to the punch. Yes, I know they are still a long ways from being taken seriously as a good, legit team. Yes, I know they are, in spite of the positive signs of growth, still just 1-3 on the season. Yes, I realize Rubio will likely hit the rookie wall at some point and struggle to play at this level throughout the season. I know all the reasons to be muted in my optimism for this year. But I can also recognize true improvement when I see it. This team IS headed in the right direction. There'll be some growing pains, but God damnit, we're starting to claw our way out of the cellar. Let's be happy about that.
10. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you exhibits A, B and C as to why the Wolves passed on DeMarcus Cousins....