In case you missed this one, this team continued to play anti-Randy Wittman style of ball and in return, they continued their winning ways.
It still is mind boggling to me that a team of Steve Nash, Jason Richardson, Amare Stoudemire, Shaquille O’Neal, Grant Hill and Leandro Barbosa is not winning more games. How much more talent do you need? In tonight’s game, the Suns had the Wolves outmatched in practically every position. But this is the beauty of basketball, the most talented team does not necessarily win. In the end, the team that plays with the most confidence, chemistry and makes the little plays will get the win.
The Wolves looked like a long shot on the road versus the Suns but something is different about the 2009 Wolves. They are playing with passion and most importantly they are having fun out there on the court. Teams can easily overlook the Wolves like Suns did tonight. We have no size and no big names. But we have one thing the Suns don’t have right now and that’s chemistry. This team is clicking on all cylinders right now from the starters to the bench.
Another big thing for the Wolves lately has been consistency. That word has haunted this team the last two seasons. Guys like Foye, Telfair, Carney, Love, Cardinal have given the Wolves reliable play as of late which has taken a lot of pressure off of Big Al. These guys are coming in game after game and doing their thing whether it’s shooting, rebounding or bringing toughness. Foye has established himself as the #2 guy on this team and he put on another “4th quarter Foye” performance tonight. Foye hit a ridiculous 21-foot fadaway jump-shot as the shot clock expired with 1:58 to give the Wolves 102-101 lead.
Love and Carney have officially become a duo off the bench combining for 30 points tonight and electrifying the team through offensive rebounds(Love) and dunks(Carney). It’s too bad that Carney didn’t get things going sooner because he would have been a shoe in for the dunk contest. Carney once again had a few dunks tonight that simply had me in awe. The way this guy flies to the rim reminds me a lot of young Dominique Williams. He just throws it down with absolute power. How jealous do you think McCants is right now that a guy that was sitting behind him at the start of the season is now getting all the attention at the guard position? Something tells me he may be the jealous type, just a guess based on his attitude. Don’t forget about Brian Cardinal too. Cardinal may not put up a lot of numbers but his impact has been just as big. He has turned into a reliable player off the bench that simply just gives the Wolves good play.
STAT OF THE GAME
Nash limited to 6 points and 6 assists
Telfair outplayed Steve Nash tonight in almost every aspect of the game. That was a complete shocker to me. Something tells me that Nash is maybe getting worn out of being a Sun. Frankly I think he is sick and tired of the inconsistency this team has faced while he has been in a Suns uniform. With all the trade rumors surrounding him as of late, I think it’s starting to affect his play as he is maybe thinking of playing for another team, especially the Raptors. Back to Telfair, this guy once again put up productive numbers as the starting points guard. The turnovers are still an issue but they are standing out less because Bassy is finally hitting his open shots. Bassy scored 6 points in a row for the Wolves in the 4th quarter to help them go from 81-83 to 87-84.
Al Jefferson, Craig Smith and Kevin Love…Outsized Down Low
These three guys proved a lot to me tonight by playing against a bigger and more experienced player in Shaquille O’Neal. All three of these guys were outsized against the Diesel but that did not slow them down from putting up huge numbers. Offensively, Big Al did work on Shaq in the block, Smith was everywhere and Love grabbed a few offensive boards over Shaq. Defensively, both Al and Love held their ground limiting Shaq to 22 points and Smith did a good job on Amare using his strength to cause problems. So if there was ever a question if these guys can play against bigger opponents…the answer is yes. For these three guys to play as well as they did tonight, it says a lot about their determination and confidence in their abilities.
I can’t imagine what a shock it must be for Kevin Love to play against Shaq as I’m sure he has never had to guard someone so big in his life other than the other time he faced him this season. 6’8 260 versus 7’1 325 is quite a difference. 20 year old versus 36 year old is also quite a difference. Often times you forget about the age differences in the NBA. Here is a guy a year out of his teens guarding a grown man in one of the most difficult tasks that you could ask from an athlete. All I can say is what an incredible display of effort by the young rookie.
Craig Smith Quietly Good
Know who had the second most points tonight? Craig Smith. Smith put up a very encouraging performance with 18 points and 7 rebounds and was just impressive as Big Al and Love. I noted before the game that Smith would need to have a big game if the Wolves were to win because they need more scoring other than from Al and Foye. Smith answered the call tonight shooting 7-10 from the field and 4-4 from the free throw line.
Kevin Love…New Nickname….”Glass”
I’m calling him “Glass” for now on because this guy is simply everywhere on the glass. I’ve never seen such an active rebounder on both sides of the ball from a rookie.
Things are finally going our way…..
I don’t know about you but when J-Rich’s 3-point shot went up with 1.6 seconds left I thought to myself, oh man here goes another crushing defeat. But when it clanked off the rim, I almost didn’t believe it. Did the Timberwolves finally win a game when the other team had the last shot? Yes! It took me about a minute to settle in because I am so used to being crushed in the final minutes. Another sign things are turning around, we played the role of 4th quarter spoilers. We outscored the Suns 32-24 in the 4th quarter instead of being the ones getting outscored. We did not let a 11 points Suns lead get in our heads but instead we stayed focused and kept plugging on. Finally, you can’t talk about things finally turning our way without mentioning Randy Foye’s miracle shot as the shot clock ran out with 1:58 left. Last time I checked, other teams are supposed to be making shots like that against us. Way to go Randy, I’m sure you had every Suns fan with their hands in the air after that one.