I had the distinct displeasure of covering tonight’s Twolves / Pacers game from Indianapolis. This game was filled with backups and DNP-CD’s on players that you would want to watch when thinking about these two teams. As an added “bonus”, Kevin Love, Brandon Roy, and Nikola Pekovic were all shut down after the first quarter. (Love and Roy both had nice quarters for what it is worth.) The Pacers did not have Granger or Hibbert in the lineup tonight either, so this really was the wrong game to pick out of this weekend’s lineup.
So where do we begin with a preseason game that has virtually no impact on the forthcoming season, particularly (and thankfully) because there were no injuries in the game either? Let’s just say that this was a game of runs. Wolves down by 9, up by 8, down by 6, up by … you get the point. The killer run came from the Pacers in the 4th quarter, going on a 19-0 run. It was like 2010 all over again. The Wolves wound up dropping the game 96-91.
Here are a few Pups that caught my eye:
Dante Cunningham had another nice performance. He’s going to be an active body off the bench and quite honestly, I could see him taking minutes from DWill sooner rather than later. The box score shows a lot of positive signs beyond the shooting performance/percentages. I also saw Cunningham ‘pull a KG’ and block a shot or two after the whistle had blown plays dead. He looks like a fantastic complement to Love and Pek as a shot blocker (the ones that count too) and a banger, despite his thin frame.
Chase Budinger also had another good night shooting. Having someone you can stick in the corner and knock down jumpers consistently is a relative godsend for this team.
Will Conroy was not impressive tonight at all. 7 points and 6 assists don’t cover the 6 TO’s and the bad decision making he showed in the fourth quarter. I’m not sure if he’s fighting for a roster spot, but tonight didn’t help. (I think Conroy will be on the roster and in a suit most of this season.)
Derrick Williams is a complete enigma. There are moments and flashes of brilliance. Then there are moments where you just have to shake your head and move on. I just don’t see him as a high impact player on this team, which of course is awesome from the #2 pick in last year’s draft. Yes, I just negatively portrayed a guy that put up 25 points and filled the rest of the box score. It’s the preseason, we are all warming up.
Alexey Shved (dear Yahoo!, please learn how to spell his name) played a good amount of PG tonight and continues to show flashes. I think he’s going to be an impact player at the SG position for us this year and will look a lot better when doing so vs. trying to play PG. Can you see the biases already forming, as I just leave this alone?
Beyond these five, there really isn’t much more to report on the Pups end. Watching the Pacers always strikes a bit of a nerve for me now because I really wanted Paul George in the ’10 draft if we were going to take a wing. How has that worked out for us? George led the team in scoring with 19 tonight and managed to do a heck of a lot more. There was also a Gerald Green sighting this evening, so that made the game a little more interesting. Green actually had a highlight reel dunk with about 24 seconds left in the game, off of a lob from the younger Hansbrough. He still looks like, well, umm, Gerald Green though.
As mentioned yesterday, it is just nice to have the Wolves back in the living room! The team returns to the Target Center for Saturday’s game against Chicago and the game will be live on NBA TV.
Let’s go Wolves!