Souhan: Kobe show further exposes Wolves' need for a shooting guard

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 30, 2012 - 12:03 PM

Martell Webster appears to be the best option at the moment, but his shooting needs to improve.


Lakers star Kobe Bryant headed to the basket against the Wolves’ Wayne Ellington. Bryant far outplayed the Wolves’ combination at shooting guard. ](MARLIN LEVISON/STARTRIBUNE( (cq - program)Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Los Angeles Lakers. Lakers Kobe Bryant headed to the basket past the defense of Wolves Wayne Ellington (22). ](MARLIN LEVISON/STARTRIBUNE( (cq - program)

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

I went into the Lakers locker room searching for a wise take on the Timberwolves from Kobe Bryant.

Wisdom was dispensed, instead, by someone named Metta World Peace.

"Kevin Love is playing great," Mr. Peace said. "Michael Beasley's playing good."

Mr. Peace shrugged, and a confused expression formed on his face. "They started two point guards," Mr. Peace said. "I don't know how that really works. I don't know. ... I think that one guy was 100 pounds, 150 pounds, and he's guarding me. I don't know. That's so crazy, I don't understand."

Wolves fans probably will find a 106-101 loss to the Lakers comforting. The Lakers have beaten the Wolves 16 times in a row. Those accustomed to The Rambis Years may consider this progress.

They shouldn't. The Lakers entered the game 1-7 on the road. They lost a night earlier in Milwaukee. The Wolves outrebounded them 52-41, took 25 more shots and took the lead with five minutes left.

Ignore the nameplates in the locker room, and this is a game the Wolves should have won. Mr. MWP identified the reason the Lakers won instead: the position of shooting guard.

The Lakers have the best in basketball. Kobe Bryant scored 35 points, with 14 rebounds and two assists, and scored every time his team needed him to.

The Wolves feature such a void at shooting guard that Rick Adelman spends every game looking for one guy who can make a couple of shots.

Sunday night, he again started Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour, two pure point guards, together. Either could have been the 100-pound gentleman to whom Mr. Peace was referring.

Wes Johnson, the shooting guard who can't shoot, started at small forward and made just two of his six shots, and none from outside. Wayne Ellington, a shooting guard who can actually, sometimes, shoot, went 0-for-4 in 10 minutes. He's a smart but limited player who belongs on the team but not in the starting lineup.

With Johnson and Ellington making zero jump shots, Adelman turned to Martell Webster, recently recovered from back surgery. Webster made four of 15 shots.

That was the difference in the game: Bryant, the Lakers shooting guard, made 14 of his 29 shots, including five three-pointers. Wolves shooting guards made six of 25 shots and two three-pointers.

The Wolves shot 38.5 percent. The Lakers shot 50.6 percent, and exposed the Wolves' biggest problem.

Adelman can mix and match at small forward, going small with Webster or big with Michael Beasley or Derrick Williams. Adelman, like most NBA coaches, lacks a starting-quality center, but Nikola Pekovic has provided good production over his past five games and is a much better option than Darko Milicic.

Adelman can't fake it at shooting guard. Either a guy makes his shots, or he doesn't. Either he scores easy baskets and forces defenses to spread themselves thin, or he's a liability.

Webster looks rusty. With Johnson looking like a bust and Elllington limited athletically, Webster will probably get a chance to prove he can handle the position.

Sunday, Love was brilliant again, putting together 33 points, 13 rebounds and two assists while attempting to defend the Lakers' huge front line. Rubio missed 11 of his 13 shots and yet still dictated the flow of the game in the second half, when the Wolves went on a 19-6 run.

Adelman is getting the most he can from this roster. Other than Rubio improving his outside shot, improvement for this 9-11 team is going to have to come at shooting guard.

Asked about the Wolves' future, Bryant, bundled under a ski cap and massive scarf, said: "It's very bright. They just need to make a couple of tweaks here and there, and need to grow with the players they have, which is very important.

"They have a good core of young players. If they can grow with that group and establish an identity, they're going to be a very dangerous team pretty quickly."

They're one good shooting guard away. They have to hope that shooting guard is Webster.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500ESPN. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. •

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


New Orleans 7:25 PM
Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 6:00 PM
Detroit 7:00 PM
New York 7:00 PM
Utah 7:30 PM
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Boston 6:00 PM
Winnipeg 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Los Angeles 6:00 PM
Chicago 6:30 PM
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Arizona 6:30 PM
San Jose 7:00 PM
Anaheim 7:00 PM
St. Louis
NY Islanders 8:00 PM
Montreal 9:00 PM
(2) Florida State 6:30 PM
Troy 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:02 PM
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11/1/14 11:00 AM
(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
(21) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Purdue 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(17) Nebraska
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Texas State 11/1/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
(22) Clemson 11/6/14 6:30 PM
Wake Forest
Sporting Kansas City 7:00 PM
Red Bull New York
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: How many games will the Timberwolves win this season?

Weekly Question