After missing the past 11 games to tend to his wife Mary Kay who is suffering from seizures, Timberwolves Head Coach Rick Adelman returned to the bench only to witness the Pups suffer their fifth consecutive loss as Minnesota fell to the Los Angeles Clippers 96-90. While the Wolves nearly knocked off the third-seeded team in the Western Conference, there is little consolation for dropping yet another game at home and falling for the fifth time in as many games.
I am going to skip the traditional game recap format and simply offer some game notes, as I feel like I continue to recycle the same thoughts concerning the Timberwolves’ struggles:
- Alexey Shved and Nikola Pekovic returned from injury, and Pek got the start at center while Shved came off the bench. Shved, who was recently added to the Rising Stars rookie roster over All-Star weekend, played fairly well and was +3 on the court and scored 12 points on 5-13 shooting with 3 assists in 21 minutes. Pek added 17 points and 12 boards.
- Ricky Rubio really struggled last night, contributing just 9 points and 4 assists in 27 minutes. He had a tough time hanging with Clippers PG Eric Bledsoe, who finished with 10 points, 10 assists, and 6 steals as he continues to fill in for the injured Chris Paul.
- Derrick Williams played only 13 minutes and it appears as if Adelman’s frustration with the former number-2 overall pick has not swayed, despite his long absence from the team. The Timberwolves NEED to figure out what they are going to do with Williams, because as his minutes begin to shrink, so does his trade value.
- Blake Griffin ravaged the Wolves front line with 26 points and 13 boards in 36 minutes. Minnesota clearly lacks athleticism on their front line, and it was very apparent last night against arguably the most athletic player in the NBA.
- The Timberwolves need a shooting guard (what’s new?). The absence of a knock-down shooter has crippled the Timberwolves this season, and it must be their number one priority heading into this summers free agency. I cannot see this team going very far with Luke Ridnour as the team’s starting 2-guard, and Alexey Shved is a few years of strength training away from being a bonafide starter.
- Matt Barnes is the enforcer that the Clippers need. Say what you will about Barnes, but he has brought a swagger to the Clippers that have fueled the teams transformation into a legitimate championship contender. After a scuffle with Wolves center Greg Stiemsma in the second period, Barnes was ejected from the game. Despite his tendencies to allow his emotions to dictate his play, his “never back down” mentality brings confidence and physicality to a team that desperately needed it following last season
- Eric Bledsoe is awesome. Who would have thought that the relatively unknown 2-guard from the 2009-2010 Kentucky Wildcats team would end up being arguably as effective in the NBA as fellow teammate and former number-1 overall draft selection John Wall? Bledsoe has been perfect insurance for CP3 this season but this will likely be the last season he plays for the Clippers. The up-tempo PG is set to become a restricted free agent this summer, and will likely receive very generous offer sheets from teams desperate for a starter at the point. I hope he gets a chance to start somewhere next year because he has a chance at becoming a very, very good player.
I apologize for the brevity of this recap, but hopefully you got a good idea about last nights match. The Wolves will now take on the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday at the Target Center. The Lakers are coming off a loss to the Phoenix Suns in which former Pup Michael Beasley dropped 27 on the Lake show. Keep the faith, Wolves fans.