Kevin Love had more points and rebounds than the Nuggets three "big men" combined. Hell, even the Wolves Stiff center Kosta Koufos managed to grab 10 rebounds against our soft bigs tonight...and he played just 20 minutes. Chris Andersen and Kenyon Martin can't get healthy fast enough.
43 points scored and 17 rebounds were grabbed by Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love tonight. Nene Hilario, Shelden Williams and Al Harrington combined for 27 points and 15 rebounds. The Nuggets still managed to win the game, but eventually this unacceptably low production from the Nuggets bigs will bite this team in the ass in the form of a bad loss. I fear it's coming.
Hockey experts say what made Wayne Gretzky great wasn't that he seemed to always be where the puck was, but that he always seemed to be where the puck was going. That's how Love rebounds. While Williams - whose sole purpose is to rebound - and Nene stood flat waiting for rebounds to bounce their way, Love was always a step or two ahead of them and got to the ball quicker. Even though Love isn't nearly as quick as Nene. But I guess that's why this guy leads the NBA in rebounds.
Fortunately for our Nuggets, other than Love and small forward Michael Beasley, the Wolves had very little ammunition to throw at Denver tonight. Love may have out-distanced the Nuggets front line all by himself, but the Wolves backcourt of Luke Ridnour, Corey Brewer and Wesley Johnson combined to shoot 0-9 from three-point range, with Ridnour and Brewer making just three of their 15 combined field goal attempts.
Unfortunately for our Nuggets, we're still seeing a recurring habit of them blowing big second half leads against bad teams. The Nuggets two-point win over the Timberwolves eerily mirrored their recent one-point win over the Grizzlies, their five-point win over the Clippers, their five-point win over the Suns and their four-point win over the Nets.
On a different topic, watching this game you had to wonder if Wolves' GM David "Wrath of" Kahn was cringing seeing the Nuggets Ty Lawson - whom he drafted for Denver with the 18th overall selection - dominate his backcourt. Kahn famously had the fifth and sixth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft and managed to end up with two point guards, none of whom were named Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, Darren Collison or Ty Lawson. Maybe - just maybe - Ricky Rubio (whom Kahn took fifth) is watching Love and Beasley play and is reconsidering playing in Minnesota someday. Maybe.
Including Lawson's stellar offensive performance, the Nuggets won the old-fashioned Nuggets way: they out-scored their opponent to the tune of 115 total points. Carmelo Anthony led the charge with 24 points (although he sunk back into a non-.500 shooting night and took some suspect late-in-the-game shots) to go along with 23 from Lawson, 18 from J.R. Smith, 17 from Arron Afflalo and 15 from Al Harrington. When five different players score at least 15 points in an NBA game, their team typically wins. This is how the Nuggets routinely won games in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. Maybe the Nuggets organization should have labeled tonight's game "80s Night."
But two things stood out to me watching the game: the Nuggets desperately need a bona fine power forward (ahem, Kenyon Martin, please come back soon) and they still haven't grasped how to defiantly close out games against bad competition. Both issues need to be rectified entering the new year.
NON-STIFF OF THE NIGHT
-Kevin Love: 14-23 shooting, 10-12 from the free throw line, 5-5 from three-point range, 43 points, 17 rebounds (seven offensive) and three assists. Love embarrassed the Nuggets bigs tonight from the opening tip to the final buzzer. It's too bad Carmelo Anthony - who had a pretty good game himself - is dictating where he wants to be traded because I'd trade him straight up for Love any day of the week.
STIFF(S) OF THE NIGHT
-Corey Brewer and Luke Ridnour: If Brewer and Ridnour continue to perform as they did tonight, Love will be the next big name to demand a departure from his small market city.
The optimists - who are right on this - will point to the "a win is a win argument" in reference to tonight's Nuggets victory. But an inability to close out games, especially against sub-par competition playing on a back-to-back, must be addressed by Nuggets head coach George Karl and his coaching staff. For if it's not addressed soon, the next time the likes of the Wolves comes to town the Nuggets could end up with their first unacceptable loss of the season.