Feb 22, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Luke Ridnour (13) hits the game-winning shot as time expires during the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz at the Target Center. The Timberwolves defeated the Jazz 100-98. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Growing Gains: Wolves/Jazz recap

Growing gains.  After experiencing last year’s growing pains, this team has shown a resilience far beyond anything I ever saw last year.  The gains and strides this team has made since last year, and heck, even the start of this season is simply tremendous.  My game notes from the first half we’re awful.  I summed it up as we got Rambis’d.  The team started to play really poorly, making ill advised passes, turning the ball over repeatedly, and shooting like the object of the game was to avoid making a shot as if it was the Kurt Rambis led team of the prior two years.  The team was flat, lethargic, tired and playing uninspired basketball.  They could do nothing right.

They’ve certainly grown since last year.

The NBA Finals 2011 JJ Barea decided to show up tonight, showing why someone decided to give him 4 years and 16 million dollars.   Thankfully for tonight, it was David Kahn.  He played his best game as a Wolf, shooting 5-6 from deep, making shots that helped keep the game from escaping past ugly blowout stage and into refunding the tickets back to the fans stage.

Welcome to the show, Derrick Williams.  The fourth quarter of this game flashed many of the reasons why Derrick Williams was the #2 pick in the draft.  Athletic.  Efficient.  Can do things off the ball (see swat, hustling after balls), and can take it to the hoop aggressively, with a mix of ball skills and athleticism.   He stepped up big when the team needed one the most.  Him and JJ carried this team in the second half with an assist from Pekovic in the third.  Whether Williams repeats this type of game or shows for now its more of a fluke will be seen, but hopefully this can be a stepping stone for him as a player and for his confidence.  For one night at least, the lion was uncaged.

Feb 22, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Luke Ridnour (13) celebrates his game-winning shot with teammates following the game against the Utah Jazz at the Target Center. The Timberwolves defeated the Jazz 100-98. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Already 300 words in and I haven’t even mentioned the hero of the game, Luke Ridnour.  His bread and butter on offense is his midrange game and his floaters.  He’s a terrible finisher, but surprising good floater shooter, and tonight proved it.  The whole second half, you could feel the crowd waiting to explode, and they sure did when Ridnour’s floater at the buzzer gave the Wolves the win at home in a game they were down 18 at its peak, and double digits through at least two-thirds.

This isn’t a pretty win.  Love and Rubio looked off, and Pek didn’t look to much better missing several tap ins that he usually converts.  It’s a testament to this team’s depth that they were able to hold off and pull out a victory.  Good teams win regardless of the style.  A win is a win.

More notes:

  • Beasley played only 9 minutes tonight.  He didn’t necessarily play bad, but Adelman sort of rode with whoever could do something and Williams proved competent enough to keep him in over Beas.  Certainly not helping on the getting anything decent in a trade angle of Beasley.
  • Interesting to see Rubio on the bench down the stretch.  Can’t argue with the call, he wasn’t playing the best (fatigue perhaps?), and Adelman went with the hot hand in JJ.  He kept the lineup that made the late charge until it came down to free throws which was: Barea, Ridnour, Webster, Williams, Love.  Small, but against the Millsap-Jefferson lineup, it was the right call.
  • It goes to show while Big Al was a often productive player for Minnesota, and nobody disliked him, he never really connected with many Minnesota fans.  He’s not loudly cheered or snidely booed whenever he returns back despite his attempt at a potential franchise players.  Maybe that’s why he took 5/65, and less then what his agent and he tried for.  He’s not that player.
  • Alec Burks is a keeper, and a player I wish the Wolves could have had a chance at.
  • Tonight was a 5 year flashback game for Josh Howard, taking it to the hoop and proving disruptive on the defensive end.
  • Despite starting the game 4-22 from the field, the Wolves maintained a good three point shooting percentage throughout the entire game, and ultimately finishing 11-22 behind the arc.  It proved key down the stretch, getting the fans on their feet and into the game.

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Tags: Derrick Williams JJ Barea Kevin Love Luke Ridnour Ricky Rubio

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