Sweet redemption. The last time the Lakers made an appearance at Target Center, Ricky Rubio blew out a knee. Of note during that game: Kevin Love was out. Of note during that game: The Lakers were at full health and the Wolves were one non-knee blow out away from sneaking away with the win. It came down to the final minute. Let that be the mindset for how this team SHOULD be playing with Kevin Love still out with injury.
11 months later, the Lakers are back, in the midst of a franchise collapse only rivaled by the Wolves this season.
We have reached a point in the season….the halfway point in fact….where it just seems to me that the Wolves should start winning some games if this team is worth it's weight in salary. The Wolves started 5-2 without Love. Good teams have guys who step up. Rubio is starting to somewhat regain his form, the options available throughout the rest of the roster remain immeasurably better than last season. And here we are with, in all reality, only Love and Chase out (well, Roy and Lee too, but let them be forgotten). There comes a point here where if we go on another 1-9 stretch for the next 10 games, that we face another "what the hell?" crisis. I would start to argue that, despite the injuries, the replacement players should be good enough to squeeze out wins and keep this team somewhat in the hunt until Love and Chase return. If not? We don't need them around any more.
I still think the team's biggest need remains a deadly 3 point shooter. Sometimes small additions make a world of difference in how the defense reacts. Anthony Morrow, Kyle Korver, JJ Redick, Jared Dudley, MarShon Brooks, Steve Novak. A guy in that realm. While the Gelebale story has been fun to watch, it remains baffling to me that nothing has been done to remedy this situation. It is even more baffling that the team continues to shoot 3's like they have more than a .00005% chance of going in. Or that winning games at the free throw line apparently isn't in the strategy, anymore. Nevermind, they can't shoot free throws, either. But, the issue affecting the Wolves right now is most of the guys (before Pek and Shved came back) are what I call "incidental scorers." Guys who typically only get a basket off of a wide open look (and even then it is inconsistent/poor shooting), a rebound/putback, or on a breakaway fast break. Guys who, when the defense is at it's best, can't do anything to score the ball. Getting Shved (good off the dribble), and Pek (excellent in the post), immediately bring the team some semblance of dependable offense, and adding a 3 point shooter teams would actually have to cover would help everyone. It could be the least exciting player imaginable, but his only job is to hit 3's and spread the floor. Find him. Add him. Let's end this tangent.
Tonight against LAL, Dwight is out. This means Pau will start at Center and I actually think Pau is a worse matchup for Pekovic as he can extend the floor a bit. Pek is great physically against Dwight and has the ability to get him in foul trouble quickly. Pau is smarter than Dwight and may prove to be a tougher cover. Gasol also will be playing with a huge chip on his shoulder tonight. Something to prove. Kahn will be watching, waiting, assembling trade pieces. Pau remains on the radar. Whether that is for his ability or his chronic knee problems (an attractive attribute for Wolves transactions) remains to be seen. It is a shame how much money Pau makes, which basically means Minnesota will have to give up at least 3 players to get him, should the talks resume as we approach the deadline. Kobe is Kobe. He will get his 30-35 points. Just cover everyone else tightly and don't waste fouls on him.
Tonight is a very winnable game. The injury excuse is going to start to waver here over the next five games assuming no one suffers any setbacks. This team can and should start to win more games with some continuity in the rotation. There is no reason Rubio, AK47, Pek and crew can't play competitive basketball against teams in the range of our record. Consider how little Love has to do with our win total right now. So, this homestand really should set the tone for how we view Pek's role in the team's future, among other things. Making a major trade should not be ruled out.
Also, Troy Hudson has retired from basketball.