Utah Jazz 108 – Minnesota Timberwolves 98
To be honest, never ever in my life have I been happy to win a home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Perhaps part of this feeling is based upon the perceived hype that surrounds the T-Wolves, who are filled with so many high lotto picks: Derrick Williams (#2 pick in 2011); Michael Beasley (#2 pick in 2008); Darko Milicic (#2 pick in 2003); Wesley Johnson (#4 pick in 2010); Kevin Love (#5 pick in 2008); Ricky Rubio (#5 pick in 2009); Luke Ridnour (#13 pick in 2003); Anthony Randolph (#14 pick in 2008). That’s eight lotto picks on their team, six of which are Top 5 picks. It fair to say that the Jazz aren’t stocked up like that, we only have Derrick Favors (#3 in 2010); Enes Kanter (#3 in 2011); Devin Harris (#5 in 2004); Gordon Hayward (#9, 2010); and Alec Burks (#12 in 2011). Still, this was a fun game to watch if you came to see the refs blow the whistles. There were 38 fouls called, and the teams went to the line 50 times. It was that kind of game again, guys.
Gentle ribbing aside, the T-Wolves are a more substance team in my mind that the Los Angeles Clippers anyday. For one thing, the T-Wolves actually have a great coach; Rick Adelman. And for another, they have a real quality depth (that was for our sakes, mostly injured for last night). The Wolves were still in it, without J.J. Barea, Michael Beasley, Brad Miller, Martell Webster, or Malcolm Lee. That is really impressive. Yes, we won without Josh Howard, but at this stage, Beasley is way better than him.
Ricky Rubio was his usual, amazing, self. He nailed all of his free throws, finished with a 5.5 to 1 assist to turn over ratio, nailed a three, made life easier for his less talented team mates – and also dropped in 17 points. It wasn’t the most efficient shooting night for him, but if you told me that Rubio would be a guy who can score 17 points at the NBA level on the second night of a back to back as a rookie, I would have taken the ‘against’. I have no concerns what so ever that he’ll be the best point guard in the league for the majority of his career. Rubio spreads the sugar around, as 7 guys on the Wolves scored in double digits. Kevin Love did not have a great shooting game. He finished the game with 15 points and 8 rebounds – which is pretty good. It’s not what we’ve come to expect from him though. He only had three offensive rebounds, 0 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, and shot 5 for 21. That’s worse than 25 fg%. He went 1/7 from three as well. Jerry Sloan would have benched him. Thank God, Jerry Sloan isn’t their coach though. When your All-Star scores 15 points on 21 shots (0.71 points per shot) it’s going to be hard to get the road win on the second night of a back to back. T-Wolves where still there, but the Jazz pulled it out.
The Jazz were -4 points in the paint on this night, yet still won. A large portion of the thanks has to go to the Jazz slashers who forced the action a bit and got to the line. (19 FGA by guys not named Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors, or Enes Kanter) Big Al had another double double (18/12), but added three sweet dimes. Paul Millsap had four assists. Gordon Hayward? He had six. Those three guys (all non PGs) had more combined assists than Ricky Rubio. The TWolves only had 6 non-Rubio assists. The Jazz? Outside of our starting forwards still had 12. The Jazz and Wolves both passed the ball really well, but I think the Jazz capitalized on the passes a little bit better. Utah had a higher fg% and more assists. The Jazz also enjoyed a 17 to 6 lead in fast break points.
Before this game I was worried about Rubio and Love; but after tonight the rest of the league should pay a little more attention to Earl Watson and Paul Millsap. Hey, I had to say one homer thing at least . . .
More coverage to come – all in one place, SLCDUNK.