1/21/13 Wolves @ Hawks

MVP Chris Johnson and the Wolves take it to Atlanta for a matinee against the Hawks. The last time these two teams faced, the Wolves emerged victorious. However, Lou Williams injury or not, the Wolves are going to have a very difficult time winning today. 

As much of an awesome feel-good story Saturday was, let's draw two conclusions from kind of a glass half-empty perspective:

1. The Rockets played perhaps the worst team game seen in the NBA this season. They shot 32% from the field and 8-31 (!!) from 3. McHale benched his starters throughout the game to make a statement. They were playing their 4th game in 5 nights. Again, while seeing Johnson and Gelebale score 23 straight to start the 4th quarter was a Hollywood storyline, the Rockets basically won this game for the Wolves. There is a decent chance the Eagan 8th grade women's badminton team could have pulled off a win against the Rotten Rockets on Saturday.

A larger, positive implication, however, is that Houston remains a big rival for a low seed on the playoffs, and have clearly fallen off of a cliff of late. Despite the Wolves' recent struggles with injury, the core rotation will recover and the Wolves do have a fighting chance of sneaking into the playoffs barring some major mojo gathering, as well as Rubio returning to form in the coming weeks. Hopefully Rick's wife recovers from her ailment soon so our leader can return.

2. Two players signed to 10-day contracts, one of which hasn't played an NBA game in about five years, outplayed a bulk the core rotation. Now, hopefully this gives guys like Steemer, Williams, and Lou a kick on the butt, but the tenured players should sort of be embarrassed with themselves after what happened. Again, the feel good story was glorious to watch, and provided fans with a much-needed temporary surge of optimism, but the fact that two 10-day guys just owned the team is sort of ridiculous. Effort and good shooting. That's how the Wolves will win. And as stated above, hopefully this provides some motivation to the bench bigs at the very least.

Despite his anomaly of a game, it was really nice to see a long, active center in there like Johnson, playing his heart out trying to make the most of his opportunity. I really think there is something to be said playing a guy trying to earn his right in the league versus players like Stiemsma and Lou, who are so obviously resting on their laurels I almost want to see them benched indefinitely. This is a very common and true example of humans responding to incentives. Lou and Stiemsma have a fraction of the incentive as Johnson to put in 100%, hence the difference. Should Johnson have another good set of games, the Wolves really should give some strong consideration to cutting Lou or Lee. One game is one game, let's see how he does today, but this team needs players who can contribute, and as a 4:1 bad play to good play ratio type, Lou has shown he isn't going to contribute anything significant to the Wolves this season. Remember that Johnson can only be here for 10-days max barring a roster move to create a spot.

As for the Hawks, the Wolves will sport the Houston rotation again today, plus DC added to bruise and hit mid-range shots off the bench. While Houston provided that great feel good story, Atlanta is likely to play like an actual NBA team today so expect it to sort of get bloody barring another miracle performance from GeleJohnson off the bench. This team sure can surprise at the oddest of moments, but expect the Wolves to be a bit overmatched this afternoon.

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