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


St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke 3
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 12 FINAL
Seattle - LP: E. Ramirez 4
Washington - LP: D. Fister 4 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 8
Tampa Bay - WP: D. Smyly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 1
Boston - LP: T. Layne 2 FINAL
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 5
NY Yankees - WP: S. Greene 8 FINAL
Detroit - LP: D. Price 4
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: Z. Wheeler 2
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: M. Latos 7
Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber 2 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: H. Noesi 3
Minnesota - LP: P. Hughes 1 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: W. Davis 6
Oakland - WP: D. Otero 5 FINAL
Houston - LP: C. Qualls 4
Milwaukee 2 Top 10th Inning
San Diego 2
Los Angeles 3 Bottom 9th Inning
Arizona 1
Miami 1 Top 8th Inning
LA Angels 5
Colorado 1 Top 8th Inning
San Francisco 2
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Indianapolis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Kansas City 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 8/28/14 6:00 PM
St. Louis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Carolina 8/28/14 6:30 PM
New England 8/28/14 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 8/28/14 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Denver 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Minnesota 8/28/14 7:00 PM
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:02 PM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Los Angeles 4
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Calgary 9/6/14 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