Watch any sport over a season and you will become familiar enough with your favorite team that you’ll come to expect certain movements out of sets. Whether it’s a Wolves player standing at the top of the key or on the wing, vacantly scanning for a passing lane or a cutter before ignoring everyone and jacking up a hopeless jumper with the shot clock running down — my point is you subconsciously anticipate stuff.
Playmaking from a shooting guard. Not something Wolves fans have learned to anticipate. Brandon Roy dished out four early assists, spurred some great player and ball movement that had the Target Center crowd downright giddy and had the Wolves jumping out to a huge early lead.
Perhaps aided by the havoc Nikola Pekovic wreaked on Sacramento’s front line — I almost felt sad watching DeMarcus Cousins, with every petulant complaint to the refs, take another step towards an on-court nervous breakdown — the Wolves paraded to the free throw line, with a margin of 36-16.
The flip side is Pek battled double and triple teams, shot 2-8 from the field and missed more than a few point-blank layups. But the lid was on the rim for Roy, Derrick Williams and sharpshooter Chase Budinger. Those marksmen shot 26% (12-46) from the field. While the majority of the misses Roy and Budinger had were wide open rust-addled jumpers, Williams repeatedly drove into traffic, drawing contact and found himself incapable of finishing under the pressure. This newfound aggressiveness did translate into offensive rebounds (4) but the poor shooting followed him to the line (where he shot 2-4). Competing with Dante Cunningham for minutes should be good for Williams.
Cunningham led the Wolves with 9 rebounds.
Roy looked great taking the Sacramento guards into the post. Evans couldn’t handle him down there.
Alexey Shved looked lost and savvy playing with Barea’s aggressive, score-first mentality should benefit him the same way it did Ricky last year, taking pressure off him while allowing him to make plays and get his sea legs.
Hey, Boston, I’ll trade you those two good games Darko defended Blake for a full season of back-up center stuff-throwing like the Greg Stiemsma did Friday night. 4 blocks in 16 minutes? Yes. Have some.
Andrei Kirilenko, you are a blur of stat-stuffing activity. I can’t help but feel that the better the Wolves get to know each other, the bigger AK-47 will pay off. So much of his activity seems like it just needs to be recognized to be taken advantage of.
I guess you could argue that would be called chemistry.