Preview & Chat: The Minnesota Timberwolves

Darius Soriano —  February 29, 2012

UPDATE: Kobe Bryant has been cleared to play in tonight’s game. And, with that clearance, he will start at shooting guard. Mini-crisis in the form of lineup questions averted. With the lineup and rotations now stabilized (or at least as stable as a Mike Brown lineup and rotation can be), a normal game plan should result. We’ll now see if the T’Wolves stick with Ridnour in the starting lineup or if they decide to go with a bigger wing player (likely Martell Webster) in his place to better match up with Kobe on the defensive end.

——————————-

Records: Lakers 20-14 (6th in West); Timberwolves 18-17 (9th in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 103.0 (17th in NBA); Timberwolves 103.7 (14th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 101.0 (12th in NBA); Timberwolves 102.1 (13th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, no clue, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Timberwolves: Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour, Wesley Johnson, Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic
Injuries: Lakers: Kobe Bryant (questionable); Timberwolves: Kevin Love (questionable)

The Lakers Coming in: Coming out of the all-star break there are many questions about this Laker team – including one major one – that are directly tied to how well this team will perform in their last 32 games. The time to make a real push is right in front of this team and it’s surely on the minds of the organization, just as it is the fans.

That said, the big picture must be narrowed down coming into tonight’s game. Kobe Bryant suffered a broken nose and a concussion in Sunday’s all-star game. And, due to the league’s new (for this season) concussion policy, Kobe will need to pass several tests, including some involving physical exertion before he’s cleared to play tonight. Reports state that Kobe’s making progress and is performing well in these tests, but as of right now, his status is still unknown. We’ll keep you posted as to whether or not he plays, but as you can see above, if he doesn’t play, then I’ve got no clue who will start in his place. The most likely candidates are Kapono, Ebanks, or even Steve Blake (he can match up with Luke Ridnour), but Mike Brown isn’t tipping his hand here.

(As an aside, that list of potential replacements once again shows the lack of guard depth and the roster imbalance on this team. Blake is the backup PG and both Kapono and Ebanks are natural SFs. It still amazes me that there’s not one true SG on this team outside of Kobe. But I digress…)

The Timberwolves Coming in: The T’Wolves have won 5 of 6, and besides a win over the Bobcats, none of them were slouches. Their lone loss in that stretch was in OT to the Nuggets on the road. Last night, they beat the Clippers by pulling away down the stretch with Kevin Love on the pine (bruised ribs) and their bench (72 points in the game!) carrying them. Michael Beasley and rookie Derrick Williams both had huge games, and as a team, they picked up their D to shut down the Clipper attack.

All this is to say that the T’Wolves are playing quite well right now. They’re playing team ball, defending better, and are gaining confidence nightly. There will still be the mistakes that come with playing a lot of young players, but their talent level and coaching is good enough to overcome some of them. As all teams gear up to try and make a playoff push, this team should not be ignored. They have all the ingredients to not only make the second season, but to knock off a team when they get there (especially if they can avoid the Thunder in round one).

Timberwolves Blogs: Check out A Wolf Among Wolves for superb writing and coverage of this team.

Keys to game: Obviously, Kobe’s status for this contest is a key variable to how the game plays out. If #24 is able to play, the game plan should look very similar to what it’s been all year vs. all opponents. The Lakers will need to go inside, but that will need to be balanced with Kobe working well both on and off the ball to free himself up to get good looks. If Kobe does play and the Wolves keep Ridnour in the starting lineup, Kobe will likely be guarded by Wes Johnson, which would leave Ridnour or Rubio to guard Ron. If that’s the case, I’d love for Ron to get some post touches and see if he can collapse the defense and create open shots for his teammates, especially to Gasol and Bynum as the help is likely to come from a big man (this strategy should also be in place should Ridnour guard Kobe).

If Kobe doesn’t play, the Lakers’ perimeter offense just got a lot weaker and the Lakers will need to be even more reliant on their big men to produce points and good shots for others by establishing the post and making good reads. The emphasis on ball movement will need to go up a notch as Kobe won’t be there to create in isolation situations and bail out the team. The ball will need to be swung from side to side and the Lakers would be wise to run more P&R actions with Blake (and Goudelock) to get the defense shifting, which should promote better passing angles and more open shots.

All that said, Kobe’s presence and how it affects the game won’t be the only key. How the Lakers play defense also matters here. They’ll see countless P&R sets with Rubio handling and Love popping out so the rotations will need to be crisp. Going under the screens on Ricky is the preferred tactic, but the Lakers will still need to cut off the corner as the young Spaniard is crafty with his dribble and will still find cracks in the D when given angles. If he’s able to get into the lane and collapse the interior, it will only open up shots for Love on the perimeter and for Beasley, Webster, and Ridnour to get open looks as well.

Of course, there’s other matchups that intrigue too, and Bynum vs. Pekovic is one I’ll be watching closely. Drew claims he’s feeling fine after his knee injection over all-star weekend, and he’ll get a nice test on both ends of the floor tonight. Pekovic uses his strength to dislodge post players and his good feet to cut off angles on D, while on offense he slashes to the hoop in P&Rs . Bynum will need to stay active and do his work early on offense to try and carve out space, while on defense he can’t be caught flat-footed.

Another player to watch closely is JJ Barea. The Lakers are quite familiar with him from his days in Dallas and his game hasn’t changed much. He’s playing off of Love much like he did Dirk, running countless P&Rs to free himself up for his mid-range jumper and/or get to the rim, where his craftiness allows him to finish amongst the trees. His quickness will likely still give the Lakers fits, but that simply means it will take a team effort to contain him off the bounce and make him a passer rather than a scorer.

Lastly, the Lakers must bring their hard hats to the paint and find a way to rebound the ball against this team. We all know what Love is capable of doing on the glass, but Pekovic is also a good offensive rebounder and their large wings (Beasley, Williams, Johnson) can also go to the glass hard. Barnes, Ron, and the Lakers’ guards will all need to make a concerted effort to close down the free throw line to snag long rebounds and hit the glass hard to help out their big men. If the Wolves grab 15+ offensive boards they’ll likely win this game, so the Lakers must limit them to single possessions while also grabbing some extra rebounds on their own offensive glass to earn extra shots themselves.

Where you can watch: 7:30 start time on Fox Sports West. Also listen live on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

Posts

98 responses to Preview & Chat: The Minnesota Timberwolves

  1. I’m going to ask that if you want to talk trades, you do it in the previous post (Wednesday Storylines). I want the discussion here to be about the game, not about the countless rumors flying around right now. Those that decide they can’t abstain in this thread, will have their comments moderated. Just a heads up.

  2. These next couple games are big, to set the tone. The schedule gets a little easier in the 2nd half, however I think this week is huge. We need to hope KB is a go so we can get a W tonight, because then we have the Kings (loss in December and at home last year) + the Heat next. We are teetering in between the last first round bye, and a non-playoff position. So a couple of games makes all the difference in the world with regard to our outlook. And yes the outlook does impact the “other” thread ; )

  3. I look for a strong effort from Minny tonight. In the previous meeting, Darko and JJ DNP and the Lakers were able to salvage a close win in Minny. Darko gives them size and a strong defensive presence in the paint. And Go-Go Barea is a Laker killer. #2 draft choice Williams is coming off a big game last night vs. the Clips, as is Beasley. Lakers will have their hands full even if Kobe is cleared to play.

  4. interesting to see if Beasley changes Mitch’s mind tonight..

  5. I want to see Mike Brown to improve Lakers’ defense to top five of the NBA, if you are good defensive coach, you can do it. Teams with quick offense like Miami, OKC have problem with zone defense. Some people said that if you have good shooter you can beat zone defense, but it is hard to find shooter who can shoot under pressure in playoffs games.

  6. Everyone, please see Comment #1 above.

  7. Its hard for die hard laker fans not to talk about trade talk and rumors its affecting my life and I think about it all day and lose sleep over it. So I can imagine how Pau feels lol

  8. As far as tonight’s game, looking to see how fluidly Drew is moving out there. I know that he’s stated on several occasions that the Injection which he had done during the All Star Break was a simple / routine procedure, but I also read comments in which he mentioned that he was having some stiffness / discomfort in the knee during the OKC game. Keeping in mind that he tweaked the knee during that game. According to the most recent reports, he looked good in practice, stated that the knee feels much better now that the lubricant has settled in and has declared himself good to go. Hopefully, this holds true, but (game) action speaks louder than words.

  9. Love and Rubio played less than 25 minutes last night. MIN bench confidence is sky high after scoring an absurd 72 points. Adelman has always done a good job vs the Lakers. Pek gave Bynum problems in Minnesota.

    I hope to see new plays and coverages from Mike Brown. He had a chance to watch some tape and tweak some things. Bynum said at ASG teams are keying in on their plays they need to run new stuff. Tough hard fought loss.

  10. Good preview, Darius. It is a weird season (and not in a good way) when none of us have a clue who might start in Kobe’s place. I have a hard time believing he’ll sit, if he has been cleared to play.

    I, too, am concerned about Bynum’s knee. Curious to see how Beasley plays given the report coming out today. Next couple of weeks could be a real roller coaster for a number of players, Pau included

    Also curious to see how the Lakers do as a team, if Kobe is out. Will there be more ball movement, or will the offense become even more sluggish than it has been in the absence of his playmaking?

  11. From a JA Adande tweet, Kobe will play and will wear a mask.

  12. UPDATE: Kobe Bryant has been cleared to play in tonight’s game. And, with that clearance, he will start at shooting guard. Mini-crisis in the form of lineup questions averted. With the lineup and rotations now stabilized (or at least as stable as a Mike Brown lineup and rotation can be), a normal game plan should result. We’ll now see if the T’Wolves stick with Ridnour in the starting lineup or if they decide to go with a bigger wing player (likely Martell Webster) in his place to better match up with Kobe on the defensive end.

  13. Kobe in/Love out =Nice

  14. UPDATE #2: Per J.A. Adande, Kevin Love is out with his rib injury. This too, affects the game plans of both teams. Wow.

  15. Time for Pau and Drew to dominate inside.

  16. anybody got a link for the game?

    ever since they shut down things for the super bowl I havent fond anything.

  17. A lot of change in the last few minutes before the game. And in LA’s favour (which makes a nice change!).

    Hoping to see good execution in the first game back from a rest. Everyone bar Kobe should have fresh legs and be ready to roll. Use the bigs and don’t let the TWolves stretch our D too far with guys like Beas.

  18. Come on Kobe – show Rip Hamilton how to play with that mask!!!

  19. Yessssssss

  20. He is unreal – please get this guy #6

  21. Artest needs to be guarded by someone 6’2″ every game.

    And I like seeing 6 assists on 6 made baskets.

  22. lakers score in transition. drink.

  23. Gasol should eat Williams’ breakfast tonight

  24. KOBE SMASH

  25. the heat check Kobe 3 may be the most predictable play in the league lol

  26. I hope everyone is appreciating this legend. Broken nose, concussion, knee, ankle, – you just can’t keep him down. Incredible.

  27. Kobe 10 points on 10 shots up 8

  28. Everyone, please check the update I posted in Comment #51 of the previous thread and if you wish to comment on it, please do it in that thread.

  29. drew with shaq-like drop step!

  30. Even more than the dunk by Bynum there….I love the fact that Kobe got up to congratulate him!

  31. Guess I got my answer regarding Drew’s Knee.

  32. Dude: I already responded @49 in the “other” thread. Come on, this is the Lakers game/Kobe thread, Keep that speculation for the other thread. Big Brother – I mean Darius is watching : )

  33. James – That is so true. I wish that someone somewhere would use Synergy Sports or whatever other tracking system and find out how often Kobe takes a 3 after making his previous 2 shots. Add to that the number of times he takes a 3 as his next shot after making a 3.

    Not that I am complaining. Without that mentality, we wouldn’t have the sheer volume of amazing Kobe scoring outbursts that we’ve seen over the years. But it is certainly as predictable as clockwork that he’ll heat check!

    Edit – It’s not just me that’s enjoyed Barea missing his first 4 shots is it?

  34. been watching Pau closely and again his body language is not great

  35. Carelessness at the end of the half was a little too game-against-OKC-esque for my liking there. Should still be a double digit lead.

    Some positive signs in the first half, but some of the bad habits we’ve noticed this season (turnovers, giving up offensive boards) are still evident.

    Nice to see Blake hitting his jumper though.

  36. Pau looks like he is not interested in playing tonight.

  37. Should be up by much more than 6. Bigs (specifically Pau) needs to get more touches. Probably why he looks uninterested.

  38. Kobe’s shooting has really begun to be troubling. We can’t win against good teams without him being more efficient. He’s having to put up way too many shots to get his points.

  39. remarkable stat advantage of the game so far–12 to 2 LA in fast break points….

  40. time to bury these wolves.

  41. Great first step and spin by Gasol for the layup

  42. That KB + 1 is a large part of what I live for

  43. Artest with a nice pass to Gasol for the basket and the and 1.

  44. Great showing. I’d be impressed if Kobe and Pau sit the whole 4th

  45. Pau: With touches comes Interest.

  46. I would also love to see the starters resting the majority of the 4th. But I don’t want to see the all-too-familiar sight of the Lakers letting a beaten down team eat away a lead. This gap after 3 should be enough, but I’m never 100% sure with this squad.

  47. I almost wish Kobe hadn’t of played tonight so people could see what this squad looks like without the only offensive initiator on the team playing. Concussion would have been a wonderful medical excuse that could keep even Kobe (Mr. Ironman) from playing.

  48. Would like to see Ebanks get some burn tonight.

  49. Pull Bynum, Barnes put McRoberts, Ebanks in

  50. This is a pretty good win. This team just whipped the Clippers, after all. Look at the standings and we’re in 4th place in the West with a good chance of moving up into 3rd place. We just need a medium sized tweak and I think we can make a run at this thing.

    We need black swan Pau to show up more often.

    We need MWP to keep playing like he did tonight.

    Steve Blake has to keep hitting his open 3’s.

    Bynum needs to please please please stay healthy and keep doing what he’s doing.

  51. Brown is clueless. Kobe is coming off a concussion Lakers are up 19 and he puts Kobe and Pau back in. WTH????

  52. Kobe Alert: Tonight he moved into 41st alone in career games played, and also moved past Kevin Porter, into 43rd in all time dimes. He has 5 top tens already: Pts, FGA’s 3FGA’s, FT’s. FTA’s. Someday when he is on top of all of many more of these, you will be able to say – you saw it happen.

  53. Mojo: #24 was in to either get 30 or the triple double. He has 30 now so it is time to sit.

    We have KOBE and nobody else does !!!!!

  54. It’s pretty clear that coach Mike Brown has little trust and confidence in the bench to close out any game.

  55. Mike Brown just can’t win with us fans…if he leaves the bench in and they let the lead slip to 12 or 13, then everyone would have cursed him as a horrible coach for not calling a timeout and putting the starters back in.

  56. So now we know Mike Brown is in the business of putting concussed players back in the game up 20. Way to earn respect Brown

  57. @57 – It’s spelled “Chinese,” not “Chineese” and it’s “deleted,” not “delited.”

    You’re welcome.

  58. What? Less than 100 comments? Lakers must’ve won..

  59. We need to send Ken to slap some sense into Brown for that dumb move. What was he thinking?

    Good win Good ball movement low minutes. Can’t complain

  60. @Avidon

    I’ve noticed that myself. It’s a weird dynamic isn’t it? When we lose there is this rush from everyone to get their doom and gloom posts out there. When we win, however, it’s fairly quiet!

  61. No recap tonight, you guys and gals. I’ll have some thoughts on this game tomorrow.

  62. up to 4th, the goal should be to catch the clips now and get the 3rd seed

  63. Tonight’s Grades*

    Bynum…A
    Gasol…..B+
    MWP……B+
    Fish…….C+
    Kobe…..A

    Barnes..B
    Murphy..B
    Blake…..B+
    Goudelock..D

    End of Bench…incomplete

    *relative to each individual’s own play this season at both ends of the court

  64. Dude: Do you think Lakers have this same type of effort vs Kings? So Jekyll and Hyde played well tonight but I’m sure none of us would be surprised if they got ran off the floor Friday.

    What do you make of Brown putting Kobe and Pau back in up 19? Still practice time

  65. Kobe’s Grade: A +++

    Skip college and get promoted straight to pros.

  66. Rubio 1/8
    Ridnour 3/11
    Barea 0/4
    Elllington 1/6

  67. This was an okay win, or in other words its just a win, nothing more nothing less. This Minny team stood no chance without Kevin Love.

  68. KenOak,

    Generally speaking, struggle, uncertainty and failure make people want to write/talk more than success does, for a variety of reasons, in many areas of life.

    Also, while the wins don’t really change things, complaining after them seems petty. But Minnesota was without its best player and on the second leg of a b2b and as the numbers in 74 show, missed a lot of shots. The Lakers did play well, but there are always two teams out there on the 94 by 47 hunk of wood.

    Finally, while there may be more comments numerically after losses, I have noticed that many of the optimists are quiet after losses, so it works both ways.

  69. Dude,
    I want you giving out grades after every game please. And you were spot on pretty much. I was actually at the game tonight and it’s easier to see when attending who is impacting the game. Believe it or not Gasol was almost a non factor tonight. He played off Other lakers very well and used his length and height. But you just don’t feel him on the floor all too often. He floats around.

  70. I applaud the professionalism of Drew and Pau, despite the persistent trade talks, they’re still productive. I wish by March 16th, they’re still here with a new PG. Fisher is just throwing the ball away and Metta found his place in being defensive minded and assist first mentality before jacking up his own shots. Lakers just need two speedy players and they’ll be OK whether with or w/o Howard.

  71. Pau’s grade might have appeared more generous relative to his impact, but it’s because he had three blocks and a steal and played solid defense for the most part, and had four assists to only two turnovers. He changed a lot of shots (as did Drew), and some of the shots he affected were out on the perimeter, giving him the opportunity for runouts and easy buckets.

    I would have given Drew an A+ if he had used the damn glass on his two lefty jump hooks.

  72. 76,

    The ‘optimists’ of FB&G don’t sit there and recycle their comments in every single thread on the forum. That’s the difference.

  73. Avidon,

    Actually, they did, and often with a snarky attitude attached to it: “Need Practice time.” “Need time to gel.” “Be patient.” “Stop whining.” “We can’t win every year.” “Lots of new players.” “Who are you to question the Lakers’ FO?”

    It started in the pre-season; all that has happened recently is that it has become clear to everyone that the team is not good enough to win as constructed and needs to make roster moves (as I have said, trade and roster spec is about 95% of what you read about the Lakers and that will be even more true through 3.15) which has changed the focus of the conversation, although I still occasionally see variations on the riffs above.

  74. The Dude’s grades = excellent. Would add a flunk for Brown putting Kobe back in at the end.

  75. Dave M–

    Like a lot of people, I was really hoping that Brown would end the Phil practice of playing the core guys in blowouts. Obviously, that has not been the case.

  76. Would just like to add how remarkable it is that none of us blink an eye at Kobe playing (very well) through yet another injury that would have sidelined 99% of the other players in the league for AT LEAST a game.

  77. Jodial,

    Like Larry Bird said, Kobe is a “tough cat.”

  78. The Clippers make Clipper Darrell. What a class-less organization.

  79. The lower number of comments reflects the blowout and the opposition. Look at the close win threads. And the games against “big” teams. That’s about all it is.

    Although Avidon’s point about optimists not recycling their points is also a good one!

  80. Avidon @80: I find this an especially curious comment coming from you, in light of your post #1 from the OKC recap of 2-23. If I remember correctly you were talking about blowing the team up. Hardly optimistic. Would you care to “re-cycle” those thoughts here? Or has Kobe changed your mind by showing he can play with a mask?

  81. rr-

    I agree with your premise generally- Avidon correctly added the line about optimists on this board not recycling their comments over and over.

    For the record, I am not an optimist but I do believe that we can compete at the highest levels in the Association with the team we have + 2 pieces. ( Not trying to break the rules here.)

    We do need to make a couple moves here in the next 2 weeks. That’s a given. However, we also are coming into the easier side of our schedule and some of the other teams will be playing more difficult schedules. We already had our 7 games in 10 days! Now some other teams will have to do it. I’m looking at you Clippers…

    Right now we are a 4th seed and knocking on the door of the 3rd seed without any changes at all. If we make a couple of “tweaks”, then I think we could realistically expect to move up into the 3rd seed and challenge for the second spot in the West.

  82. http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/page/CBA-111128/how-new-nba-deal-compares-last-one

    Luxury taxes – note how high the taxes would be for the Lakers in 2012-3, as “repeat offenders” – this is why future payroll is going to be such a significant factor in roster moves.

    • 2011 CBA: Teams pay $1 for every $1 their salary is above the luxury-tax threshold in 2011-12 and 2012-13. Starting in 2012-13, teams pay an incremental tax that increases with every $5 million above the tax threshold ($1.50, $1.75, $2.50, $3.25, etc.). Teams that are repeat offenders (paying tax at least four out of the past five seasons) have a tax that is higher still — $1 more at each increment ($2.50, $2.75, $3.50, $4.25, etc.).

  83. KenOak: Whether you are optimistic, all depends on your point of reference. I was optimistic in 2001 + 2002. Are you that optimistic now? Probably not : ) I mostly agree with your appraisal in 88. So let’s say we get a 3-4 seed. That means we are somewhere around the “6th” best team in the league. We “could” win it from there (see 04 Pistons), however this doesn’t excite me as a spoiled/entitled Laker fan : ) I may of course have to accept it : )

  84. Robert-
    Here’s where your logic is a bit flawed. There have been years where we did not have the #1 seed in the West, but we still won the championship. There have also been years, in which we were the #1 seed, that we did not win the championship. Once the playoffs begin- anything happens. Even at our greatest, in the 80’s, we didn’t win it all every year.

    Nothing is ever guaranteed, even if you do have the first seed. With a medium size tweak or two, I see us competing with the Thunder to represent the West.

    Now…if we get to the Finals and face the Heat? All bets are off. We don’t match up very well with their athleticism, but everything slows down in the playoffs and if we keep Pau/Bynum, then we will have the advantage down low. We just need a tweak to mitigate our obvious shortcomings at the 1 and 3.

  85. Dude,
    Gasol had a SF guarding him basically the entire game. As you said you were grading them based on their own potential play. Based on what Gasol can do (especially when being covered by a SF) Pau gets a D+ from me. Most of his points came on wide open dunk being set up by teammates. But I would also based on your grading system give Fisher a B+ as I don’t think he can play much better. For that same reason I would give Kobe a C as he played awful defense last night.

  86. KenOak: rr tells me my logic is flawed all the time, so you might be right : ) That said: The Lakers have won the title 16 times: Of those we had the #1 seed 11 times; #2 three times, and #3 Twice. We have never won the title from the 4 seed or worse. Since 1990, the NBA champ has had at least the 4th best OVERALL record 20 of 22 years. Conclusion: If you finish with the 6th best record in the league, your odds are not impossible, but also not good : )

  87. I have to share how awful it is for Fisher to play in front of his own fans now. In a way it’s very sad. The crowd makes fun of him before every drive to the basket and laughs at every awful pass. These are some of the things I heard during the game… “He must be the worst passing PG of all time” “He’s old now… I mean I guess he’s been old for a while now.” “The game must look so fast to Derek. He looks confused out there.”

    [edited for family unfriendly antidote] Shame on you young man;)

  88. However – if you still do not like my logic, perhaps you would like a computer’s logic. This ESPN ranking has us at a 2% chance for the title. Being an optimist, I would have us higher than that. However to my earlier point, to have a “realistic” shot at the title, we must break into the Top 3 teams as you can see from the odds:

    http://espn.go.com/nba/hollinger/playoffodds

  89. Here is a snipit from the article…

    31.81.

    That number may not mean much to many of you, but for those of us who track player efficiency rating it represents the hallowed mark of one Michael Jeffrey Jordan in 1987-88, the best mark in the game’s modern history. (PER only tracks back to 1973-74, when the league began tracking individual turnovers. While we can estimate that it would have been really, really good, we don’t know what Wilt Chamberlain’s or Oscar Robertson’s PER would have been without that key piece of missing info.)

    PER, for the uninitiated, is a rating of a player’s per-minute statistical effectiveness that I developed several years ago. The formula is too long and complex to explain here, but you can learn all about it at this link.

    And this season, that mark is in jeopardy.

    With half a season in the books, LeBron James’ PER stands at 32.41, which not only eclipses Jordan’s best season but does so by a full half-point. While we emphasize that this puts him on track for the best regular season in the game’s modern history — James still has much to prove come June — it nonetheless would represent a spectacular accomplishment.

    It also puts another notch in LeBron’s career file; even if he doesn’t end up breaking Jordan’s record, he’s likely to add another 31-plus season to his file and give himself three of the top seven all-time PER seasons; Jordan has the other four (see chart). Any way you slice it, he’s putting himself in some fairly lofty company.

  90. I thought this was a good win.

    But a little hollow because of Kevin Love not being in the game.

    I still don’t think it would have mattered though, personally.

    Looking forward to some tweaks (not blockbusters) by the deadline, BTW.

    Bye.

  91. @Mojo 97

    Michael Beasley was traded from Miami to Minnesota for two second round picks and cash considerations. The first pick was in 2011, it was the 31st for which Miami traded to get the 28th pick who turned out to be Norris Cole. The next second round pick is in 2014. So no, Miami did not get just two low round second round picks. They got a damn good player in Norris Cole plus they have another pick to make. One first rounder (not two) would not be bad for the failed 2nd pick in the draft.

  92. We “could” win it from there (see 04 Pistons),

    ____

    After thay added Rasheed Wallace, the 2004 Pistons were the best team in the league. They were 20-6 with him pre-playoffs.

    The issue is not saying the Lakers need to be on the CHI/MIA/OKC level to win the title. They do. The issue is assuming that trading everything for Howard is the best way to get there.

  93. Aaron, I see your point about Kobe. He lost his man several times…probably should have given him a B. I was generous because of his physical situation and his leadership by example. It can’t be easy to play with that contraption on your face when you’ve never played with one like that before.

    Fisher’s turnovers and inability to feed the post lowered his grade. I didn’t expect Rubio or Ridnour to carve him up in the P&R (especially without Love), and they didn’t.

    Gasol did some of his work on Pekovic last night, and I think he would have benefited more from having Love “defend” him on the block than Derrick Williams, who has quicker feet than Love. A couple of those plays he made where his teammates set him up occurred immediately after his perimeter defense forced a missed three-pointer and blocked another one, and he just continued his runout to the Lakers’ rim. I don’t think we should underestimate how effective a very long and agile PF can be at contesting three-pointers. One can make the argument that those two plays were both five-point switches.

  94. A few thoughts on last nights game and addressing the rumor mill in a new post that’s up.

    http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2012/03/01/winning-rotations-the-rumor-mill/