Who were those guys?: Wolves beat Jazz, 108-101
- Blog Post by: Jerry Zgoda
- December 5, 2009 - 11:22 PM
This from Phil Miller, who covered tonight's game at Target Center:
-- Kurt Rambis said before the game that he would likely begin to reduce the number of players who get regular minutes, and he certainly lived up to that Saturday. Nathan Jawai and Oleksiy Pecherov never got off the bench, and Ryan Hollins and Ramon Sessions each played fewer than 14 minutes, far below their 20-plus averages. Sessions' playing time was largely due to Jonny Flynn's strong play, but it will be interesting to monitor how much the trio of centers play now that Kevin Love is back. Utah has an unusual lineup, in that center Mehmet Okur is a perimeter player, so the Wolves didn't need their size inside so much. And Rambis complimented Hollins' play before the game, despite his lack of rebounding. But don't be surprised if Jawai and Pecherov receive a few more DNPs as Love's minutes grow.
-- Perhaps the highlight play of the night came early in the third quarter, when Flynn stepped in front of a Carlos Boozer pass and took off for the other end. Flynn was closely pursued by Deron Williams, so he attacked the basket -- and finished with a dunk. Not bad for a 6-foot small fry, eh? The Wolves' bench certainly got a good laugh out of it. "Yeah, we knew he could dunk. He's had a few spectacular plays in practice," Ryan Gomes said. "Wait till he gets one in half-court, they you guys will really be amazed."
-- The Timberwolves' victory is even more impressive when you consider what an awful night Al Jefferson had. Jefferson was getting good looks at the basket against Boozer, who isn't exactly a lockdown defender, but midway through the third quarter, he was 3-for-14 from the field. But Jefferson made four of his last five shots to finish with 15 points and 11 rebounds -- and was delighted with the win after the game, his own problems aside.
-- Another nice contribution from Wayne Ellington, who has clearly impressed Rambis over the past few games. Ellington played 24 minutes, nearly as much as starter Corey Brewer, and made four of six shots, plus four rebounds and two assists. Asked if Ellington is playing with considerable confidence now, Rambis joked, "Looks that way to you too, huh?"
-- Kevin Love made two three-pointers last season, in 19 attempts -- most of them, he pointed out, "from the far free-throw line" at the end of quarters. In two games this year, Love is already 4-for-6 from three-point range. He worked on it a lot this summer, he said, and it's paying off. The Wolves were 4-for-9 on three-pointers Saturday, while Utah was 2-for-16.
-- Utah was without Andrei Kirilenko, whose back spasms have flared up a few times in the past few weeks, and Kyle Korver, who has yet to play this season after arthroscopic knee surgery over the summer. And maybe it's a sign of the times in the NBA these days, but both teams have players who go on the inactive list each night but aren't really part of the team: Minnesota's Mark Blount and Utah's Matt Harpring are only technically still in the league, but they're still on their team's roster.
-- While his players were jubilant over an impressive victory, Rambis was much more reserved about the win. He noted all the mistakes his team made, mentioned a few defense breakdowns (the Jazz shot 50 percent, after all), and didn't exactly whoop it up. OK, they're 3-17, so nobody's throwing parades. But he did show his happiness in one important way: He gave the Wolves the day off Sunday.
-- Nice-looking uniforms, by the way. The throwbacks are plain, but attractive. Wonder if they brought back memories for Ty Corbin, now a Utah assistant. The former Wolves forward works for Jerry Sloan, who became coach of the Jazz in 1988 -- about three months before Jonny Flynn was born.
-- Kevin Love and Oleksiy Pecherov will serve coffee and sign autographs for fans Sunday at the Southdale Mall. They'll sign autographs at the mall's center court from 4-4:40 p.m., then spend a half-hour making lattes and frapuccinos at the Caribou Coffee kiosk.
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