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3-pointer from Section 131 – He’s a Beast!

Joann and I have tickets to 18 Wolves’ games this year. You might ask, “Why?” There is no answer to that. But we have them, and I’m going to post my impression of the team and each game right here on Bachblog. Lucky you.

Wednesday, November 17: Wolves 113, Clippers 111

Scorebord during Wolves-Clippers gameFor the first time this year, we got to leave the arena after a Wolves’ victory. This was a close game from start to finish, but the Wolves started to pull away early in the fourth quarter and led by eight points at its half-way mark. But then the Clippers went on a 10-1 run to take a lead. With just over a minute to go, the Wolves trailed by two.

The game was following a familiar pattern. Just two days ago in Charlotte, the Wolves blew a late lead versus the Bobcats. It looked as if we would see a replay of that, and it wasn’t going to be any fun.

But—surprise!—the Wolves pulled it out. A couple of defensive stops, an unlikely basket by Corey Brewer, and then a big offensive rebound by Kevin Love led to an isolation play drawn up for Michael Beasley. He hit a cold-blooded jumper over ex-Wolf Ryan Gomes with two seconds on the clock for the win.

Basketball point oneBlake Griffin is going to be a very, very good offensive player. I’m not sure about his defense at this point; he didn’t look particularly impressive. But he is very athletic. He’s about the same size as Kevin Love, just as strong or stronger, and a whole lot quicker. It looks like he will compete with John Wall for Rookie of the Year.

Basketball point twoInevitably, comparisons will be made between Love and Griffin. The are similarly-sized, and play the same position. Love came out of southern California (one year at UCLA); Griffin moved into sourthern California with the Clippers. They both dominated in college (Griffin played two years at Oklahoma). Griffin is off to a fast start to his rookie campaign (he was drafted 1st overall before last season, but injured his knee in preseason and missed the year). Love has spent the past few days basking in the national media spotlight after his 31-point, 31-rebound performance last Friday against the Knicks.

Statistically, this game was close to a dead heat. Griffin finished with 26 points and 17 rebounds; Love scored 24 and collected 14 boards. Love edged Griffin in the small stats (4 assists, 2 steals, a block, and only 1 turnover, while Griffin logged 2-0-0-2 in the same categories). Griffin was the more dynamic-looking player (he threw down a couple of thundering dunks). Griffin guarded Love most of the night, but Darko Milicic drew the assignment on Griffin more often than not. It’s not surprising that the Wolves would use their best big defender on the Clips best big scorer, but it is also an admission of Love’s shortcomings as a defender. Where Love really outshone Griffin, though, was on offensive efficiency. It took Love only 11 field goals to score 24 points, while Griffin needed 22 shots to score 27.

Basketball point threeBeasley is a beast! He may be the most exciting go-to scorer the Wolves have had since … I’m not sure. KG is clearly the best player to ever put on the Wolves uniform, and he regularly averaged 20+ points per game. But he was not cutout to be a go-to scorer: a guy who can be counted on to get his own shot at any point, and a guy who really wants the ball at crunch time. Maybe Sam Cassell—for one season—was that kind of player for the Wolves. Before that, Isaiah Rider (though he was really before my time) might have fit the bill. Beasley has the talent to be that guy, and for a short stretch now he has been (scoring 42, 35, 25, 28, and 33 points in the five-game stretch up to and including this game).

Wednesday night against the Clippers, with fourteen seconds left in the game and a tie score, Coach Rambis drew up an isolation play for Beasley and had him go to work. The Clippers chose not to double him. Gomes forced him to the right (he’s a lefty), but Beasley made it look B-easy to execute a simple step-back jumper that hit nothing but the bottom of the net. It was a beautiful thing.

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