The Minnesota Timberwolves play host to the Houston Rockets in this regular season finale. If the Wolves lose tonight, they will secure the worst record over the Cleveland Cavaliers and gain the most ping-pong balls in this year’s NBA Draft Lottery. Looking ahead, potential lottery picks such as Duke’s Kyrie Irivng, Arizona’s Derrick Williams or North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes can all be potential building blocks for this Wolves franchise. What the wolves do need; however, is a player that can be a leader for this team. Kevin Love is a great player for this franchise but I still think they need a superstar or an upgrade in the backcourt, especially at the point guard position since Luke Ridnour or Johnny Flynn are not the solutions to the Wolves problems. Whether it comes from the draft, free agency or trade, the Wolves need someone to raise the level of play of Love, Michael Beasley and Wesley Johnson and help stabilize the immaturity and youth on this team.
The first half was pretty atrocious for the Wolves. As a team, they shot 40% from the field and looked like a team that was ready for this season to end. At the half, they were losing 69-52 to the Rockets, who were led by forward Chase Budinger’s 19 points. Wolves Anthony Randolph led Minnesota with 11 points off the bench and Wolves Center Nikola Pekovic had 10 points, all in the first quarter.
In the second half, the Rockets extended their lead to 21 but Beasley’s 20-foot jumper capped off a 19-2 run to cut the lead to 86-83. Beasley scored 17 of his 25 points in the third quarter to lead a furious Wolves comeback. Luke Ridnour’s nifty feed to a cutting Randolph for a lay-up cut the lead to 90-89 right before the third quarter buzzer. Beasley scored 17 of his 25 points
Beasley continued to impress in the fourth quarter but the Rockets continued to maintain their lead. Budinger’s backdoor cut for a three-point play gave the Rockets a 114-102 lead with 4 minutes to play and proved to be the difference. The Rockets defeated the Wolves, 121-102.
Budinger led all scorers with 35 points. Rockets guard Goran Dragic had a triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. Beasley’s 34 points and 7 rebounds led the Wolves. Randolph came off the bench to score 23 points on 11-17 shooting from the floor.
It was another disappointing loss in another overall disappointing season. The one shining moment of the Wolves season would have to be All-Star forward Kevin Love. He had an absolutely amazing season and should win the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award. Unfortunately, basketball is still a team sport and you are ultimately judged by wins and losses. I guess if you have the worst record in the league, it cannot get any worse.
So now the off-season begins for these Wolves. Hopefully, GM David Kahn will have a plan that will start making these Wolves into a contender. What the Wolves need is a little luck on their side and hopefully, with all of the extra ping-pong balls they acquired by losing their last two games, they will gain the overall #1 pick for the 2011 NBA Draft and find that franchise player that they are sorely needing.
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Written by Phil Aguila