After the game ended almost nobody was willing to blame Ricky Rubio's injury for the way the team played last night.
It won't take long to figure out if that's true. One bad outing can be written off to a team battling emotional fatigue in the wake of Rubio's season-ending knee injury. But now the team goes on the road, and it will have to play a heck of a lot better than it did Saturday or this seven-game road trip could be the trip from hell.
"it was just a disappointing game all-around," coach Rick Adelman said. "I thought maybe it was the worst game in a long time defensively for us. No communication, ball-watching, not playing as a team."
Greetings for a final time tonight. Kent Youngblood here.
Adelman is 100 percent correct. The defense Saturday was reminiscent of the 2010-11 Wolves. The Hornets had 28 assists on 39 field goals made. Seven Hornets players had two or more assists.It was ridiculous how many easy shots the Hornets got because nobody in a Wolves uniform was playing help defense.
Again, in the wake of the Rubio news, you can give the team a one-game break. But let's see what happens Monday in Phoenix.
Here are some observations from tonight's game:
1. Malcolm Lee made his NBA debut, getting just 5:15 of playing time. Offensively he looked a little tentative, which is to be expected. But he was OK on defense. Still, Wolves fans should hope that J.J. Barea comes back soon.
2. Barea could be back Monday. If not then, Adelman said he'd be back by the Utah game.
3. Love, playing with a back that is still sore, scored 31 points and had 16 rebounds. He, Pek and Ridnour all had double-doubles. But too many other players took the day off. Michael Beasley's defense was gosh-awful and he was 1-for-7 shooting with two turnovers. Martell Webster played more than 24 minutes and managed just two points on 1-for-5 shooting. Wes Johnson was 0-for-3 in 25 1/2 minutes.
4. Getting his first significant action in a while, Wayne Ellington came off the bench, hit five of eight shots and scored 12 points.
5. But the bottom line is the Wolves will have to re-imagine their offense in the post-Rubio portion of the schedule. Even when Barea returns the Wolves will have to find different ways for the ball to move, for open shots to be created. This will be a huge test for the coaching staff.
That's about it for now. The Wolves are off tomorrow, and Jerry will pick them up in Phoenix on Monday.