NBA Game Recap: Timberwolves 101 – Clippers 98

Can somebody get this guy a max contract please? With 1.5 seconds remaining in the game, Kevin Love knocked down a three from the top of the key to beat the buzzer and stun the crowd of the Staples Center, winning 101-98 in a game they had no business being in. In a nationally televised game, The Timberpups played very sloppy and made countless mental and physical errors, trailing the majority of the game.

Ricky Rubio went from having a forgettable night to leading a miraculous come from behind victory in the final minutes as the Clippers blew a 12 point fourth quarter lead to lose on their home floor. Rubio went a miserable 1-11 from the field, but his sole field goal came on a clutch three pointer with less than a minute to play to tie the game at 98. Rubio turned a nightmare of a stat line through three periods into a very solid line of 9 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals. Continuing his fourth quarter heroics Friday night, Rubio is creating quite the national stir. The all time great players find ways to win games when the shots are not falling, and Rubio did exactly that yet again.

Kevin Love finally hit a game winner, and he was able to get a wide-open look coming out of a timeout with 1.5 seconds to play. Love finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds in a hard-nosed matchup with Blake Griffin. Love played very respectable defense on Griffin and displayed his versatility as a player, at the same time exposing Griffin for his lack of versatility. For one, Love can shoot outside of 10 feet and showed off his three point shot going 2-3 from beyond the arc. Griffin, to say it simply, cannot shoot well, and struggled to make anything other than dunks, layups, or free throws. Griffin also missed two key free throws with a few minutes to play that would have given the Clippers a large boost in the final minutes. Love got the better of this matchup and if I were to have to pick one to start a team with, I would pick Love without question. Blake Griffin provides flash that is very marketable, but Love provides undeniable production that the NBA has not seen for some 30 years.

Wayne Ellington played out of his mind tonight netting 13 points on 6-9 shooting. The numbers do not explain his game properly, as Ellington hit most of his shots in his defender’s face. Ellington’s confidence is at an all time high and it is joyous to watch his development as a player. He possesses a jump shot that has the ability to be as good as anyone’s in the NBA (and I mean, anyone), but he simply needs to continue to play with the confidence needed to keep hitting his shots in games. Ellington has earned all of his minutes and is turning into an absolute stud at SG.

This is about the time in the recap that I would blast Darko for his incompetence and lack of effort, but on the national scale tonight Darko had one of his best games as a Pup. Darko scored 22 points on 10-15 shooting and pulled down 7 rebounds. Although he looked like a fool on defense against Blake Griffin at times, Darko played a very complete game and games like tonight’s display his inconsistency to produce on a game-to-game basis. Its nights like tonight where you see a player worthy of being drafted 2nd overall, but unfortunately games like tonight’s are infrequent to say the least.

Although he only played 12 minutes, Nikola Pekovic was 4-4 from the field and played a great game, making me wonder why he was not on the court more. I’m very happy with what I’ve seen thus far out of Pekovic and his reputation for being a banger in Europe is not without merit.

Perhaps this game would have had a different outcome had it not been for Mo Williams ejection in the fourth quarter that resulted from his second technical foul of the game. Williams was putting on a show until his ejection, scoring 25 points on 10-15 shooting including 21 points in the first half. The Pups did not hedge screens put on Mo’s defenders and he continually hit open shots off screens all first half. Mo let his teammates down tonight and allowed his emotions and ego to interfere with his ability to provide for his team. Mo was the Clippers best weapon tonight, but his immaturity and stupidity cost the Clippers a game in the wins column.

Blake Griffin ended with 21 points and 10 rebounds, but I was very disappointed with the performance put up by Griffin. He shot only 7-17 from the field and missed wide-open mid-range jumpers all night. Griffin lacks a jump shot and can only score by posting up on the low block or running in transition

I came away tonight as a big time believer in Deandre Jordan. The kid is an athletic freak and had 3 sensational blocks. Having an enormous, hyper-athletic defender protecting home on every play is a luxury that few teams enjoy and Jordan justified his fat new contract tonight. Man, and to think that we passed up on him when we drafted Nikola Pekovic in 2009.

Until the fourth quarter, I thought tonight was a major step back for the Pups. To be fair, the Clippers are a very good rebounding team and are physically imposing on the low block. The Timberwolves inability to box out in the first half was inexcusable and the second chance points that were allowed have been a continuing problem throughout this season. In the first half, the Pups wing defenders closed out poorly on their men and players like Randy Foye, Mo Williams, Ryan Gomes, and Chauncey Billups nailed too many shots in the Timberwolves faces. To their credit, the Clippers shot the ball extremely well tonight but cooled off at the right time and the Pups were able to exploit them for it.

Let’s take a moment to recognize the genius of the coach who is Rick Adelman. Adelman managed the game to perfection and the Pups were able to get big stops on possessions down the stretch tonight. Our vastly improved defense is a testament to Adelman’s genius scheming and motivating. The play that Adelman drew up at the end of the game left Love for a wide-open look, something that Love and others were not used to when Kurt Rambis was in charge.

The Timberwolves could have avoided tonight’s madness by hitting their free throws during the game, as they made only 23 of 33 free throws.

Key Moment: While Love’s buzzer beater was the play that decided the game, Rubio’s three to tie the game at 98 was the moment that gave the Pups the momentum. Consider also that when Rubio took the shot, he was 0-10 from the field with multiple air balls and in the midst of one his worst shooting nights of his life. His winners mentality gave the Pups life where there was none, and he continues to evolve the culture of our young team.

Key Player: Derrick Williams had the highest +/- of the night with a +17. Williams provided a huge spark in the 4th quarter that ultimately led to the Pups come back victory, and his energy ended up being a large contributor to the win tonight.