On a technical level the Wolves beat the Pelicans. I agree completely. Thanks to Jimmy Buckets the Wolves got another W.
DMC/Boogie/DeMarcus/Cousins whatever you like to call him didn’t help the Pelicans win. DeMarcus Cousins balled last night, no way around that. Boogie’s been playing well all season as you can see in the table below. The stats matter but they don’t catch everything on the court. The flops, the mean-mugs, the arguing with the ref/teammates/opponents and the general demeanor don’t translate in that 30.9 GmSc. Boogie is a polarizing dude to say the least.
When he was in SacTown I was all about the Wolves reshuffling and getting him on the court with Karl-Anthony Towns. The logic in the trade was sound. As Tom Ziller points out at SBNation there are greater flaws on the Pelicans roster that need to be addressed outside of that trade. Tom Ziller probably eats shit like me for breakfast so I’m jumping on his TD call. Watching Boogie play last night I just don’t know what the best team concept is to surround him with to win. The easy answer is John Wall. That’s just a no brainer. No one is confusing Jrue Holiday with John Wall. The wing play for the Pelicans is replacement level or below right now. When your starters could anchor a decent second unit your second unit is going to have issues. Ian Clark looked like a system player who cashed in on great play for the Golden State Warriors or a guy that is woefully miscast in his current role with the Pelicans. As soon as Clark was on the court I was just hoping the Wolves would go at him. Just check the game flow below the Wolves weren’t kind when Clark was on the court.
— PopcornMachine.Net (@pmgameflows) November 2, 2017
That’s not to take away from the fact that Boogie doesn’t help the flow of the game for his team either. Dude led the game in scoring but still was a -8 in the +/-. The Wolves rotated bigs defensively but Taj seemed to have a handle on Boogie and Gorgui Dieng was able to keep him in front of him too. KAT needs a little more bulk to really bang with Boogie. Flat out if Boogie wants to score he’ll find a way. More blunt force (Shaq) than dream-shake but he can get it done when he’s motivated. The same motivation comes and goes more on the defensive end. When the Pels were on defense the Wolves seems to be more focused on finding wing isolation thanks to KAT having an off night. The Sota offense still feels like a work in progress. Its November not March so I’m adjusting my expectations. Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins don’t really know how the other moves around the court yet. Teague doesn’t know where guys like passes, when to attack or who to run a real two-man game with at present. I mean it should be Teague-KAT in a two-man situation rotated with Butler and Wiggins set plays but meshing all of that into a cohesive offense isn’t near a finished product presently. The use of the corner by Gibson and Dieng is great. I’m not sure why Shabazz Muhammad isn’t just camped out for corner threes. Maybe his lack of enthusiasm for the corner three is reflected in his playing time. It’d be great to see him taking 2-3 corner threes a night. The only starter to hit a three tonight was Taj Gibson and that’s not really a great stat for the team but it’d probably win you a bar bet. Gibson needs to play like he did tonight to warrant the contract.
The power forward rotation of Taj and Nemanja Bjelica is going to be fun to watch this year. Tonight both guys were feeling it at different times making me wonder if we’ll see more overlapping minutes or if they’ll continue to be like for like subs. Bjelly and Taj play on both ends. Bjelly plays remarkably active defense, paired with his three point shooting he’s a 3 and D at the 4 which is amazing in its own right. Taj developing a corner three is also going to great spacing. Bjelly is launching from 5 or more feet behind the line so its a different situation. Regardless their defender has to be aware. With Bjelly and Jamal Crawford on the court together defenders can’t sag. Which created Gorgui’s room to work. The spacing here also helped create creases that Tyus attacked a few times to keep his man honest and I’d have loved to see more of this from him and Bazz. Let’s be honest these guys just weren’t on the court that much and Bjelly/Gorgui/Crawford were taking up most of the oxygen.
Then the Pels still made a few big runs of their own. Largely on the backs of Anthony Davis (who’s good FYI) and Boogie. the 15-4 run in the third sucked. Wiggins went cold during the Pels run missing a pair of threes and a handful of decent looks (four 2 pointers and the two 3 pointers). What I liked about this was Wiggins didn’t shut down. Butler missed three shots during this run too. It didn’t feel like it was defensive pressure as much as just missed shots and the offense not getting them into great spots to shoot. Then Sota ran off a 13-1 run at the end of the 3rd and start of the 4th. Look at this point in time I was ready to turn off the game and start watching Game 7 of the World Series. Just like in the 3rd the Pels made a run 16-4. Then Buckets was like nah not tonight.
Buckets, James G Esq. pic.twitter.com/Xs1fZanoJG
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) November 2, 2017
E’Twaun Moore had a tough night before the game started. He was there to shut down Butler and Wiggins. Unlike Dante Cunningham, Moore didn’t get benched in the 4th so he must of been giving the Pels something that Alvin Gentry liked. As soon as Moore raises his arms on that play he was cooked. Down the stretch both Wiggins and Buckets knew they were beating the Pels. It didn’t matter the confidence those dudes had the last five minutes of the 4th brought the win. Even with that Wiggins did lose a defensive rebound with about 14 seconds left. Gentry was smart being out of timeouts he asked the refs to review the time on the clock. The clock read 11 and change but after a review it went back to 13.8. Two seconds that this point in time lets you run a more complete action but it also lets you diagram a complete play. Its a four point game in an end of game situation. Sota has to know not to foul contest but don’t foul. Boogie gets the ball at the top of the key and fires up a horrible looking 3 largely because its contested and he’s looking for FT. Not sure why he made this play. It wasn’t a horrible full-court shot or anything but if that’s what they drew up I guess they deserved the loss. AD fouls Buckets who ices it at the line. Outside of the big runs in the 3rd and 4th quarter the Pels didn’t look like a team. Davis and Boogie used way too much energy in those runs especially in the 4th to be fresh enough to dominate at the end. This was a home game for the Pels but they just don’t have a great atmosphere. The announced attendance was 14,788 but it thinned out when they were trailing big in the 3rd and it was pretty dead at the end of the game. That’s on the players as much as anything else but its an element that was lacking down the stretch.
The Wolves have two days off before a Saturday/Sunday home back-to-back. The front half of the back-to-back is Dallas which looks much easier than the back side of Charlotte. Look back later this week for a preview of both games.