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RandBall: Love fouled, but Wolves' problems run deeper

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • December 31, 2013 - 9:29 AM

After watching last night's Wolves game and several like them this season, here are five combined thoughts on the season-to-date and Monday's game-ending play:

1) Kevin Love was fouled. He was fouled hard. He was fouled quite clearly, particularly when you see the side angle with Shawn Marion's arm swiping straight across him and hitting his hand/arm as he attempted a potential game-tying shot in the final second. We should all be able to agree on this. It wasn't one of those minor bumps/let them play moments. It was a hack. Some of us believed it even more strongly than others, like Wolves radio announcer Alan Horton -- who pretty much went bonkers.

2) Kevin Love doesn't need to sell every foul. He was fouled. We've heard the theory that his theatrical flail might have kept the refs from calling the foul last night, and we don't think that's crazy. It can be hard to call honest fouls when every play is sold as one.

3) The game was lost for the final time in that moment. But it was lost in so many other places first. It was lost in the first half, when the Wolves dug themselves the massive hole that they would spend the rest of the game working out of. It was lost with between 4 and 5 minutes left, when the Wolves -- clinging to a one-point lead -- had Corey Brewer and Ricky Rubio sitting at the scorer's table waiting to enter. They sat ... and sat ... and sat ... while Shawn Marion drained two uncontested three-pointers to put the Mavs up 95-90. We would have loved to see a timeout at 90-89 to get Brewer back on Marion. And it was lost with poor execution in the final minute. Twice the Wolves had a chance to tie before the Love desperation shot, but a Ricky Rubio turnover and a missed Nikola Pekovic half-layup/half-floater netted zero points.

4) The late-game stuff Monday was a microcosm of the season. The Wolves are great when everything is rolling their way. But they just ... can't ... execute ... when it matters most. Their offensive and defensive rating are both in the top 10 of the NBA, but at least right now they are like an NFL offense that is great between the 20s and bad in the red zone. That's why they are an almost unfathomable 0-8 in games decided by four points or fewer.

5) Really, every frustrating facet of a team that should be better -- and that shouldn't need late-game heroics to be at an equal team on its home court -- was on display Monday. Rubio scored four points. The entire bench scored five points. Another fantastic game from Love was wasted. The team shot 6 of 23 from three-point range. They've improved slightly from their historically bad shooting a season ago, but the Wolves are still 25th in the NBA in three-point percentage. As we enter 2014, the big question is whether these are correctable mistakes or if the Wolves are what we think they are.

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