Last night in Brooklyn the Wolves welcomed the arrival of Chase Budinger’s shot and Alexey Shved’s poise to a season that has already celebrated the arrival of the all-around brilliance of Andrei Kirilenko and the boundless energy of Dante Cunningham. Without those offseason acquisitions, the efforts of Nikola Pekovic would have gone to waste.
After raining three after three on the helpless Wolves for the first three quarters, the isolation play of the Nets bigger backcourt ran dry. Luke Ridnour again struggled with his matchup at point guard, but provided feisty 3rd quarter play and enough long-distance shooting to prove the Wolves could, in fact, hit something from beyond the three point arc.
Kirilenko and then Budinger proved to be long enough to bother Joe Johnson’s shot and help out on the defensive boards. Kris Humphries, Brook Lopez, and first half all-star, Andray Blatche were helpless to watch as Cunningham took what rebounds he wanted and Pek ran them out of the building.
Shved’s ability to probe the defense, make plays for teammates by driving and kicking, as well as knock down his own three point shots — all things he showed himself capable of doing during the Summer Olympics –proved to be the most exciting development of the game. His quick hands while defending Deron Williams proved critical, as well, but if Shved can be the threat he was in Brooklyn for the Wolves second unit, there won’t be many concerns about Roy’s ability to be effective (with 7 assists, you could argue he was), if only because it won’t be necessary for the Wolves to be successful.
The win gave the Wolves a split on their road trip to bring them to 2-1 on the season with the Orlando Magic coming to town. With matchups against the Eastern Conference’s Central Division’s Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls over the weekend, the Magic offer the Wolves a nice opportunity for a cushion as they make their way towards the goal of a .500 record when reinforcements of Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio return from injuries.