LAKERS OVER WOLVES 117-92
If there is one lasting image I have from my visit to Target Center tonight, it's this:
Please read that again. It is likely that sentence will never be written a second time. Now soak it in. The guy in the picture above did a double-cluth, two-handed dunk in a game against our team. I don't think Coby Carl is allowed to double-clutch dunk in NBA2K8 much less a pick-up game. This is the equivalent of Adam Kennedy hitting 3 home runs in one game.
* UPDATE - Check out the NBA.com full play-by-play page. Scroll to the bottom. This is the exact play according to NBA.com:
Karl Alley Oop Dunk Shot: Made (2 PTS)
Assist: Farmar (3 AST)
Anyways, the Wolves lost tonight 117-92 and, as the old saying goes, the game wasn't that close. Had the Lakers not utilized the daunting lineup of Farmar-Vujacic-Turiaf-Mbenga-Karl out on the floor for a significant portion of tonight's game (approximately 7 minutes), I think the Lakers had the potential to win by 40 points tonight.
I did not enter tonight's game with a lot of hopes for a victory. The Lakers, in an early entry for crime of the century (larceny), acquired Pao Gasol from the Grizzlies for 4 tins of Grizzly chewing tobacco and Kwame Brown. This move not only makes the Lakers an instant contender for best team, it also makes an absolute matchup nightmare for the Wolves. Can you imagine the matchup problems with Bynum back? I actually think Gasol on Jefferson is the tougher matchup because of Gasol's length and defense. However, beyond that position, did you feel comfortable with any of the following matchups for the starters:
Phil Jackson v. Randy Wittman
Fisher v. Telfair
Bryant v. Jaric
Radmonovic v. Turbo
Odom v. Gomes
Even with the Laker's reserves, a bench that is seriously deep in all the key spots, the Wolves just have a tough match up against this particular team. Add in the fact that the Wolves just couldn't get the offense going for any consistent stretch during this game and you have the recipe for a slaughter. There's really not much to add about this game, it was messy for the team on both ends and hard to watch if you're a Wolves fan. On top of sloppy offense, the players failed to hustle to loose balls, which is something that always bothers me, and apparently bothers the 22,120 ESPN readers (see poll on right hand column).
The worry from my perspective, as someone who closely follows this team and goes to all the games, is that the team has had two uninspired performances following one of their better games of the season (albeit a loss, the Celtics game was very entertaining and a pleasure to attend). If these past two games are a "hangover" from that defeat, then the young players have to adopt the short memory strategy that most successful teams and individuals have for both failures and triumphs. Let's hope the break reinspires some of the pups.
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."