The game was close. With about 2 minutes left to play, the more steady and focused Minnesota Timberwolves pulled away for the evening. Kevin Love showed everyone again, why he is the all-star for Minnesota. No, he doesn’t do the craziest moves like Derrick Rose or Lebron James. But he does his job and does it well.
Love went for 36 points, 13 rebounds but no points bigger than the bank shot he made and the rebound tip-in he made late at the end of the game. Love dominates a lost art, the double double and the effort of leading a team in rebounding. He is only 11 boards shy of Kevin Garnett’s mark of 1, 139.
And when Love goes for outrageous double doubles, the Wolves are hard to beat. The Warriors found out that out last night. After keeping the game close, there were two key plays in which, (surprise, surprise) Dorell Wright forgot to box out the man with the most rebounds in the game, Love. Two plays, it was Wright’s fault for not playing some type of defense. Again, defense is about effort and clearly Wright found it no reason to go and box out the guy he was now covering. And don’t tell me NBA players don’t play defense. Did you watch Chicago last night? They smothered the Orlando Magic. They even had two double teams towards the end of the shot clock. They play real defense.
As for the Warriors, in a shot that Luke Ridour made, towards the end of the game, I saw Klay Thompson fighting off Anthony Tolliver to get inside position. Lucky for both of them, the shot went in, so that was the end of the jousting. But the effort was there and that is what Mark Jackson should point out in the film.
For the Warriors, the trade that should have paid some dividends have yet to come forth. Fans, who were visbly upset after trading star Monta Ellis last week, booed the crap out of the owners last night, during Chris Mullin’s jersey ceremony. And while they were frustrated and upset with the trade, the bigger picture is that the trade is good in the long run. Right now, the trade looks bad because Andrew Bogut is still hurt and Stephen Curry is out with his bum ankle. Any wins without two of the proven NBA players, will be difficult if not impossible (unless you’re playing the Wizards). I thought the Warriors put up a valient fight against the Wolves.
David Lee continues to lead this team, capping off his night with 25 points and 8 boards. Nate Robinson, who is now on max playing time because of injuries, contributed, 13 points and 7 assists. Klay Thompson, who looks more comfortable now in his starting role, ended the night with 17 points. And off the bench, (I think this is huge!) newcomer Richard Jefferson scored 19 points and had four boards. i think he will fit in rather nice and provide some of that veteran leadership the Warriors are lacking.
Andris Beidrins’ stat line just makes me laugh. He should just enjoy getting his $9 million/ year while sitting on the bench. The minute Bogut is back from his injury, Beidrins will even “DNP-Coach’s Decision” until he gets traded, waived or given amnesty.
Now to the real story of the game.
Last night would be a great time to go to Oracle. Former Warrior player, Chris Mullin was getting his number retired by the Warriors and it was going to be a great night to see all the former Warrior players. The ceremony would have went beautifully if only there were more classy fans.
I understand that they are visbly upset with the trade of Monta Ellis. He was the face of the franchise for seven years. His game was electric, dynamic and it made it seem like the Warriors could be contenders. But the reality of it was, that Ellis is not that player. He is just a great scorer, who could not elevate his team to the next level. He is not someone you build around (they did try) and hope you make it to the playoffs and beyond.
The trade, while Bogut is still injured, makes the Warrior a much better team. They never had a true center and now they’ve got one. If Bogut is able to get back from injury and contribute the way he did on Milwaukee, then he will give you something that many teams don’t have, an inside presence. Don’t forget, Curry is still on the shelf. When he is back and healthy, it will give you the outside scoring that is needed for balance. No, it’s not highlight material but if it equals wins, does it matter how it gets done?
The reaction by the fans was almost needed. It proved to ownership and management that the fans are invested and they still love the Warriors even if they are having another losing season. But there is a time and place for that. Last night was not the time nor the place. It was suppose to be about Chris Mullin and his legacy as a Warrior. It was suppose to be a time to celebrate the past, endure the present and look forward to the future. Every player wanted to be Mullin last night. That means you were achieved something great and now your team is honoring you. Mullin has a very decorated career and last night should have honored that.
Instead, the story was overshadowed by the ill-timing of the booing by the fans. It’s too bad really. The night really belonged to Mullin and his contribution to put the Warriors back on the map when he started playing. Instead, he spent a good chunk of time deflecting the booing for something the fans should and could have done another time.