Just as Matt Barnes made a snap decision that Greg Stiemsma was setting illegal screens and to react in kind:
Reactions to the Minnesota Timberwolves loss at home to the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night will range from utter despair and despondency to slight reassurance.
Whether or not Barnes lost his mind on that play is irrelevant. What is telling, is that after the incident, the Wolves didn’t blush, they didn’t let the fake-thuggery advance the physicality of the game to disproportionate levels, they didn’t go Jason Smith on Blake.
Nor did they Andre Miller him:
Which, in my mind, would have been preferable, due to the ridiculous finish of the game:
Whether Blake travelled or Rubio could’ve checked in for Barea instead of Shved, it was nice to have Adelman back on the sidelines.
The always verbose Steve McPherson at awolfamongwolves has some good post-game quotes:
But in addition to playing harder, the Wolves also have to be tougher. “We have to be tougher at the end of the games,” said Rubio in the locker room afterwards. “We want to win, but we have to show it. Teams are playing aggressive and they want to win, too, so we have to not sit back. We have to push them.”
On the surface, this can sound like more of the same, but I think there’s actually a subtle difference here. Playing hard means exerting energy in a direction, along a certain trajectory. In the NBA, the season is long, and the games are long. For all the rhetoric about giving it 110% at all times, teams like it a lot better when they can build a big lead based on hard play and then hold the other team at bay. The latter is more what playing tough is about: bears play hard, turtles play tough. The Wolves need to push teams, but they also need to be able to take a punch. Oh and play hard.
But in his postgame comments, Adelman gave a hint into yet another element the team needs to develop. “It just seems like they start getting a little bit down and they try to do too much themselves and not as a team,” he said. “We have to play as a team at both ends and you have to trust your teammates.”