In the first quarter, it was Marko Jaric who gave the Wolves an offensive jolt. Jaric was on-target from the perimeter in the opening period, and helped our squad keep the first quarter deficit to only four. In the second quarter, it was Antoine Walker. Shimmy came off the bench and knocked down a pair of threes, bringing the Wolves back into the game when it looked like Toronto was on the verge of pulling away.
In the third quarter, though, no one stepped up for the Wolves. Seriously, I almost fell asleep several times during the third, as absolutely nothing was happening on the offensive end for us. No one knocked down a big shot to catalyze a run, no one could buy a bucket from the perimeter--it was one of the more forgettable quarters I've seen the Wolves play in the past few months.
Looking back at the first half, though, the player that stands out most to me is Sebastian Telfair. My most frequent complaint of the Wolves this season is that they've looked old and slow too often, even though they're one of the youngest teams in the league. Well, in the opening two quarters, Telfair ensured that I wouldn't be able to make that complaint about him...he was everything a young point guard should be. He pushed the tempo, made plays with his quickness, and did a good job of distributing the ball on the break.
I hardly noticed him in the second half, and his stat line looks pretty ugly (2-10 from the field, six points...although he did have eight assists), but nevertheless, he deserves some praise for his youthfulness (is that a word?) in the first half.
I was also quite impressed with Big Al in the opening half. Teams are pretty much doubling him every time he touches the ball, and Al's taking advantage--he's definitely shown great improvement in passing out of double teams.
One problem: The Wolves don't have anyone who can knock down
a shot from the perimeter on a consistent basis, and that's been their primary
downfall as of late (earlier in the year, the major problem with the team was a
lack of effort...they've been playing harder lately, but still, their desperate
need for a perimeter shooter has reared its ugly head more and more often over the past month or
so). Our guards have been getting open looks as a result of the constant double teams on Jefferson, but their shots just haven't been falling.
Al was also impressive on the defensive end tonight. Guarding Chris Bosh is obviously no easy task, considering Bosh's sweet jumper and his solid power game around the hoop, but Al did a nice job of guarding the big man. Had a few blocks on Bosh, and limited him to 14 points.
But I'm being too positive...the Wolves did lose by 23, after all. They lost it in the third quarter, but honestly, I don't know what I can say about that period that I haven't already said in this recap. It was a void, 12 minutes of nothingness from the Wolves. A black hole of a quarter. The energy that helped them remain competitive during the opening two quarters vanished. As I said, no one stepped up. Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld famously pitched Seinfeld as a "show about nothing"...well, the third quarter of tonight's game was a "quarter about nothing."
Despite that disappointing quarter, though, the night wasn't a total waste...we had the chance to see a host of familiar faces. Obviously, we got a glimpse of Sam Mitchell, one of my favorite Wolves of all time (I still have his bobblehead doll sitting on a shelf along with my Terrell Brandon and Crunch bobbleheads...and yes, I fully realize that I have a terrible bobblehead collection). Also saw Darrick Martin, who's older than Jesus.
And then, of course, there's Rasho, who played five years with the Wolves...one of McHale's many failed big men. I've seen people in nursing homes with more toughness than Rasho. Finally, we saw Kris Humphries, who played just under nine minutes in tonight's game.
If you were watching the game with a young, impressionable basketball player, I hope you shielded his or her eyes during Humphries' playing time tonight. Rarely have I seen a basketball player at any level who is as selfish as he is. I mean, if Jerry Sloan couldn't turn this kid into a more complete player, I don't know who possibly could.
In his four seasons in the NBA, Humphries has played 2,797 minutes. He has 111 assists. I did the math, and he averages roughly one assist per 25 minutes...so, he could play a full game of 48 minutes and still struggle to reach the lofty mark of two assists.
Humphries was taken with the 14th overall pick of the 2004 draft by the Jazz. Al Jefferson was selected with the 15th overall pick. How'd that one work out, Utah?
Ah, but I shouldn't kid...the Wolves received a shellacking in the second half from Humphries' squad, after all. I'm just glad I decided against using my voucher for a free ticket tonight...because after the monotonous second half, I would have somehow still felt ripped off, had I been in attendance.
"It was probably one of the most complete games I had all season," Brewer said after Saturday's practice. "Both ends of the floor, I played pretty well. In the second half I really didn't make shots. I feel like defensively I was helping the team. If I can be active like that and get a lot of deflections, I can help the team."
Here's video from last night's game, showing Kevin Garnett's first return to the Target Center as a member of the Boston Celtics:
T-Wolves -vs- Boston Celtics (2.08.08)
If we could only win ONE game this entire NBA season, tonight’s game was the game I would have wanted us to win. It was a wild and entertaining ending to a very memorable night. Alas, as we all know, the ending was a heartbreaker. Leon Powe scored the put back bucket as time expired, to give the Celtics the 88-86 victory over our young TimberCeltics. We probably should have lost regardless, as Ray Allen was hacked pretty badly on his final shot with time winding down. Fortunately for Celtics faithful, Powe was in position to grab the rebound and quickly layed it back in for the win. If Powe wouldn’t have made the basket, I would agree with anyone stating that Jesus Shuttlesworth deserved to shoot free throws for getting hacked on his shot. With that said, I still think the Wolves deserved to win the game, based on how the two teams competed for the majority of the game. The Celtics came out flat and appeared to be coasting through much of the game. The Wolves were hustling and playing very hard, as you could tell they desperately wanted this win. Either way, we lost another thriller to the Boston Celtics this season. That’s probably why they have the best record in the NBA, and we have 10 wins.
KG’s return stirred some mixed emotions. First off, it was pretty cool to see him again. I thought maybe we’d all clap and cheer and that would be it. However, as soon as he walked out onto the court I got goosebumps. I couldn’t hear a single person booing him, nor did I see anyone *not* cheering for KG, as some had hypothesized might happen. I had wondered if KG would just come out for this introduction because he was obligated, or because he truly did care about the fans here in ‘Sota? Would he stare at the ground and wait for the cheering to be over, or would he acknowledge the fans? After seeing a replay at home, it appeared like some tears were welling up in KG’s eyes. It was an incredible moment. KG looked genuinely happy to see everyone while waving and looking around. KG displayed emotion… but in a touching way. It’s been a while since we fans have seen that here in Minnesota. Even though he was not able to play in the game as most fans had desired, it was still decent closure to the KG era. I think it will help a lot of fans to move on and eventually get behind the new youngsters on our squad.
A few things that I didn’t like about how they did KG’s appearance/tribute: 1) They did it too early in the introductions. Due to the unnatural conditions of the walkways and entrances in Target Center (aka an actual sellout), people were still trying to file in when KG walked out onto the court. There were quite a few empty seats, because many people had not been able to get to their seats in time. That was a shame, and I wish they could have waited a little longer. However, I do understand that it’s not easy (or usually allowed) to switch around the player introductions and a game start time. 2) Couldn’t they have allowed the fans to clap and cheer for more than one measly minute? I mean, come on. Seriously? We could have cheered for him longer if they wouldn’t have ushered him off the court. Then again, I guess this goes back to actually starting the game on time. Would anyone really have cared if the game started five minutes later? Perhaps the TV people might have cared I guess. Regardless, it was a good appearance, but it just seemed sort of rushed. Also, they didn’t really announce it too well, as KG just suddenly appeared walking out of the tunnel before anyone really knew what was happening. I guess I’m nit-picking though. It was certainly much better than him not making the trip at all. Last thing about KG, there were infinitely more Boston KG jerseys than Minnesota KG jerseys. I just thought that was pretty interesting.
(Click "Read More..." for thoughts and analysis.)
I may end up regretting this statement I made in our recent roundtable discussion here at T'Wolves Blog:
And what are the Wolves chances of ever wining a title
with Big Al as our cornerstone?
Won't happen. I honestly don't have a lot to add from College Wolf and Jeremy's comments, as they nailed the reason that the Wolves won't win a championship with Big Al as the first option...simply put, he's an excellent second option, but he'll need to be playing alongside a star for the Wolves to win a title. I love his game, but I don't think he'll ever have the mentality or dominant game necessary to be "the guy" on a championship roster. And that, my friends, makes this upcoming draft absolutely critical for the future success of this team--anything short of drafting a future superstar will be a disappointment, as the Wolves need to acquire their first option before we can start discussing future championship contention for this team.
Since I wrote that in mid-January, Jefferson has scored 27 against Phoenix, 39 in a later game against the Suns, a career-high 40 against New Jersey, 26 against Chicago, and 25 against the Clippers. He's posted double-doubles in nine of his last 10 games, been named Western Conference played of the week, and shot over 50% from the field in nearly every game since the middle of last month.
He's displayed an "alpha dog" mentality, unfazed by double and triple teams and demanding the ball in key, pressure-filled situations. He's getting on his teammates' cases when they don't give him the ball in the post, and he's showing major assertiveness in the huddle. From the looks of it, he's quickly capturing greater and greater respect from this team, and appears to be establishing himself as a locker room leader. And while he'll never match KG's defensive ability, Big Al's shown noticeable improvement on the defensive end as of late.
In short, it seems like he's becoming a superstar right before our eyes.
Am I fully convinced that Jefferson can eventually be the first option on a contender? No--the jury's still out on that. But am I becoming more confident that he'll be able to develop into that role? Absolutely. I can't quite put my finger on what I've been seeing from Al lately, but he seems to be attaining that "it" factor--a star mentality, a mindset that the greats achieve at some point in their career. The attitude that says, "I'm going to score on this possession, and you have no chance of stopping me."
Two or three weeks ago, I was convinced that Jefferson could never be "the guy" on a contender. Now, I'm not so sure. He's been playing at an extremely high level lately, and if he continues to assert himself on the court and keeps entering a leadership role with this team, the sky's the limit for Big Al. On the other hand, these recent weeks of dominant play could simply be the exception to the rule for Jefferson--maybe he will ultimately end up being a 20-12 guy, and a solid second-option.
At this point, we just don't know if Al can enter truly elite status. I do know this, though: My opinion of Jefferson has changed quite a bit over the past few weeks.
Round Table Discussion: Six Month Anniversary Of The KG Trade
As you all may or may not be aware, today is the sixth month anniversary of the blockbuster Kevin Garnett trade; which changed the faces of the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves. It is rare for a player of KG’s caliber to get traded in today’s NBA, and this blockbuster trade was the biggest single player trade in NBA history; netting the T-Wolves five players and two #1 draft picks. In return, the Wolves received Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff, Gerald Green, and two future first round draft picks.
The staff here at TWolvesBlog commemorated this event by holding a “Roundtable Discussion” to look at both the Wolves and Celtics franchises, during the sixth months following the trade. The trade has made the situation in Minnesota substantially more difficult, while the Boston Celtics are reaping immediate dividends. As it stands, the T-Wolves have the worst record in the league at 9-36, and on the flipside the Celtics currently enjoy the league’s best record at 35-8.
(Click “Read More” to continue on with the Roundtable Discussion…)no comments
Note: This article appears on www.derok.net/wolves
In the darkest of nights, hope can still light the way. [image2]
A little over a week ago, the Wolves were sitting dead-last in the NBA standings at an abysmal 5-34. Morale amongst their fans had hit an all-time low as the players looked completely lost and had managed to win only one of their last fourteen games. To say things were bad would be the understatement of the century. If not for the apparent Top 4 draft pick the fans had coming in June, things would have been borderline apocalyptical.
Ten days later, the Minnesota Timberwolves are still dead-last in the standings, but a mini-tear has improved their record to 9-36. While those who cheer for the Spurs may consider the team's latest 4-2 stint to be smallest of accomplishments, those of us on the spacious Minnesota badnwagon couldn't be happier. Seemingly overnight, a massive change took place inside the Wolves' locker room. The team, which had been struggling to a historic degree, managed to overtake the Warriors by one on the road and followed it up with a ten-point victory over Western Conference-leading Phoenix. They then nearly shocked the world during an emotional one-point loss against Kevin Garnett's NBA-leading Celtics. The Timberwolves followed that gutsy performance with an incredible come-from-behind victory over New Jersey in which they trailed by seven with under two minutes to play. While last night's defeat at the hands of the Bulls left much to be desired, the Wolves managed to avenge the loss with a gritty effort tonight in the second game of the back-to-back series. After averaging a win about once every two weeks over the first half of the season, this sudden string of victories has injected new life into the organization. Because for the first time in a very long time, Timberwolves fans finally have reason to hope.
The Second TWolvesBlog Open Mailbag...
Like last time, we might as well jump right into this; it's the long awaited Second Edition of the TWolvesBlog Open Mailbag. (Ok, so it definitely wasn’t “long awaited.”) Like last time, I’ve got even more quality questions from people all over the world! Or not. Anyhow, there is a very diverse variety of topics from: This year’s All-Stars, should we trade McCants (yes!) and/or Foye?, updated predictions about this team’s final record and status, Coach Wittman’s job status, Adriana Lima, Chris Richard’s PT, Corey Brewer, and finally, College Wolf’s First “Unintentionally Funny and/or Entertaining Roster of Awesomeness!”
(Click "Read More..." to dive into the MailBag.)