The Wolves got waxed last night by the Lakers, 116-95. The Lakers were without Bynum and Turiaf and, had Kobe sat out with the flu, I don't think the score would be much different. It was a sloppy game by the Wolves. It seemed like almost every pass inside to Big Al (I still wish someone would give him a better nickname) either arrived to him out of his comfort zone or was intercepted. Bassy did take advantage of Fisher's mileage and Farmar's lack of lateral speed to get to the rim, but he matched each of his 3 assists with a turnover. 18 team turnovers, 11 team assists. Wolves outscored each quarter. I counted 5 airballs. There's really not much else to say about the specifics of the loss that others haven't written, so I'm going to move on.
WARNING: If you're a complete homer-style fan, do not click "Read More", otherwise, please do.no comments
Here's some thoughts after taking a look at the season stats...
*Big Al's stat line: 20.1 PPG, 10.9 RPG. I think that's pretty much where we pegged him...as the first option for the Wolves, it's no surprise to see his stats take a jump from last season. I do think, though, that his PPG average could be higher, but we're going through stretches where Al isn't involved enough in the offense (College Wolf thinks it's because our guards stink when it comes to entry passes...I agree, but I also think Al should be a bit more assertive).
*Marko's stats: 9.1 PPG, 4.1 APG, 49.5% from the field, 41.2% from beyond the arc. Unless anyone can think of a better reason for Jaric's strong start to the season, I'll just credit it to him dating a Victoria's Secret model.
*Craiggers is only getting 17.5 minutes per game. What gives? I thought he'd see a sizable increase in minutes over last season, but that hasn't been the case thus far. C'mon, Witt.
*A few key stats for Rashad: He's shooting 42.8% from the field, and is averaging 3.3 turnovers per game. I think a major problem for Rashad is that, first and foremost, he considers himself a jump shooter. And while he does go through stretches when his jumper is dropping, it's time that Rashad starts thinking of himself as a slasher...as of now, his jumper is just too inconsistent. And he absolutely must start taking better care of the ball...he's turning the ball over at an inexcusably high rate. I still believe that Rashad can be a great player, but he's got some things to work out.
*Mark Madsen has started five games. No, I'm not kidding.
*Here's where things get tough for me...Gerald Green has played in seven of the 15 games, and is shooting 37% from the field (20% from long range). Earlier in the season, I was a huge supporter of Gerald...I wanted him to get some significant playing time. But man, after seeing him play in the past few weeks, he seems to be in his own world when on the court. Everything we heard about Gerald was true...great athleticism, but he makes horrible decisions. He's completely intent on shooting whenever he gets the ball, and as a result, he's not taking good shots. I'd keep playing him, as I'm a firm believer that actually seeing meaningful minutes is the best way for players to improve...but his performance has been discouraging.
*Every player on the roster, with the exception of Chris Richard and Green, has started at least one game. Yikes.
*The Wolves are edging their opponents on the offensive glass (they average 12.1 offensive rebounds per game, while their opponents are averaging 10.1), but their opponents have the edge in defensive rebounding (30.1 defensive rebounds per game, vs. 28.5). It's a predictable trend...we lost a great defensive rebounder in Garnett while gaining Jefferson, who is a better offensive rebounder than KG is (and Gomsey's also making an impact on the offensive boards). I do hope, though, that Craig Smith can start translating some of that offensive rebounding intuition to the defensive end.no comments
It was a long, strange evening at Target Center. Coach Pops getting tee'd up, Madsen annoying the crap out of the great Tim Duncan, the refs making their presence known, the Wolves getting outscored by 21 in the fourth quarter. Needless to say, it was a wild one.
Let's start with the officiating. In a word, it was horrible. I'm not usually big on conspiracy theories, but the officiating helped the Spurs a whole lot more than it helped the Wolves. Yeah, there were plenty of iffy calls and non-calls on both sides, but you can't tell me that the officiating didn't prove to be an advantage for San Antonio.
I lost count of the times that Wittman simply threw his arms up in sheer awe of the officiating that was taking place. It was pure exasperation on Witt's part. The officiating was clearly discouraging for the Pups, and there just wasn't much he could do about it.
No, the officials didn't decide this one. That's not reasonable to suggest. They did, however, dictate the flow of the game.
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I want to start this by saying that I rooted heavily for the Wovles to draft Corey Brewer. From the beginning of the SEC tournatment last year, I thought Corey Brewer could be a Josh Howard-type player with potential to be even more (honestly, during the NCAA I was thinking his game resembled Scottie Pippen). I was at a Buffalo Wild Wings with my buddy Benny Gunz watching the draft. When Yi was taken with the 6th pick, I was pumped because I knew we would take Brewer. (That's actually a lie. Part of me was terrified that we were going to take Spencer Hawes). Sure enough, we did. The Buffalo Wild Wings went crazy with applause.
What is my opinion on Brewer now? Honestly, it's still the same. I still think he can be a good player in this league with time. This is why, without making it an insult to Brewer, I think the organization should send him to the NBA Development League.
First thing's first. I did not realize how thin Brewer was. When I first saw him in the preseason, I thought he looked thinner than the kids in the "Well this is Christmas" Christian Children's Fund commercials. Did he look that thin in the NCAA tournament? Probably not because he was up against 18-22 year olds. Second, when you draft a player in the first round on talent and, in Brewer's case, speed and defensive ability while knowing the offensive skill set is a work in progress, that's what you get. Brewer has height and the speed to guard a lot of people in this league, but his offensive skill set is still raw. At Florida, he got a ton of open looks and on-on-one situations because of how dangerous every player was on that team from 1-8. Obviously, that's not the case with the Wolves. However, the three glaring holes in his offensive game are ball handling (which inhibits his ability to get to the hole), consistent jump shooting and confidence. His passing skills are actually more mature than I thought, but given the style of play at Florida, I'm not surprised.
The team can't expect him to develop playing him 20 minutes one night, 0 the next, then 9 after that. Conversely, with his game the way it is right now, Brewer can't reasonably expect a spot in an 8 or 9 man rotation, especially on a team congested with shooting guard/small forward tweeners. However, he plays superior defense in almost all respects to his counterparts on this team (save Gomes if matched up on a more physical player) and the skills he needs to work on can be developed (hopefully?).
So why not send him to the Development League? Isn't that what it was made for? The kid needs minutes and he needs them in games. I've never seen a NBA DL game and I don't know what the rosters are like, but I'm assuming the players are either (a) NBA-level talents that are either too raw or lack the drive to elevate their games, or (b) hard-working players trying their asses off to make their dream of playing in the NBA come true. Either way, Brewer doesn't need the Bruce Bowens or Ron Artests of the world guarding him in order to work on ball handling, jump shooting, and, most importantly, confidence, but he does need work on those skills.
I also think it would set excellent precedent for the league. Has anyone ever sent a lottery pick down to the NBA DL? Is Gerald Green (18th pick) the highest to ever get sent there? I think too many GMs would be afraid that sending a lottery player down would be similar to admitting that the player is a bust. But why is this the case? When you only play 8-9 players a game, how can you expect a young, raw talent like Brewer to get any better. Like I said earlier, Brewer needs minutes, but a coach needs to put in lineups that can win a game. As much as I don't like the current coach, he's not making mistake by benching Brewer, and Brewer cannot complain about his minutes with the level of contribution he makes right now. Additionally, if a player is going to be a bust, won't you know for sure if he can't hack it in the NBA DL?
In short, I think it's time to use the NBA DL for what it is - player development.no comments
T-Wolves -vs- Dallas Mavericks (11.28.07)
I’ll probably just more or less jump right into this one since it was an away game. I don’t really have too much to build up towards as an introduction. I would like to add that DVR + Couch + Beverage makes for a pretty comfortable viewing experience.
As some of you may know, the Mavs were coming off a three game losing streak and a loss at home to the Wizards last game. Could the Wolves take advantage of this? Did we catch them at the right time? For anyone interested, the Wolves have not won two games in a row since February 14th of last year, after beating Boston and the Nuggets. My guess in the forum discussion thread was that tonight would not be the night to start another such streak. The Wolves played them close and mounted a spirited comeback after being down 20 points in the third quarter. Did they have what it takes to knock of Dallas?
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I reserve the right to end this live blog early in case of a blowout... Anyways, glad you're here for tonight's game.
*Linkin Park's "Bleed it Out" = cool song. Wish they'd play it at Target Center. Pete, meanwhile, states the obvious in his keys to the game...he makes the shocking revelation that the Wolves must contain Chris Paul.
*I've been to New Orleans several times, and I'd wager that their arena is one of the more ugly ones in the NBA. Great city, though...unbelievable food. Definitely can't wait to go back there.
*Yawn. Another great up and under by Big Al.
*The Hornets fans stand until their squad scores? That's kinda stupid.
*Madsen's starting again. Hmm...while I question Wittman's lineup, the Hornets continue to struggle from the field. The few fans who showed up to New Orleans Arena remain standing, two minutes into the game.
*Ah, Gomsey steps out. Gotta limit those turnovers tonight.
*Pete's right about Rashad...he needs easy baskets to get going. A streaky guy like him needs to get the confidence level up early with a few easy looks.
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Unless you attended tonight's game, you didn't see it (it wasn't even shown on NBA League Pass). And for those of you who missed the game...well, consider yourselves lucky. There's no doubt about it- this was the ugliest game of the season.
It all started well. The Wolves were red hot in the first half- McCants' jumper was dropping once again, Big Al was dominating the low block, and Antoine Walker continued to drain the triples while also penetrating and getting some easy baskets. For much of the first half, the Wolves' field goal percentage hovered in the 65%-70% range...so needless to say, it was a dominant opening 24 minutes for our squad.
And I was definitely impressed. On the latter part of a back-to-back, it's unusual to see a team display the intensity that the Wolves did in the first half. Atlanta looked flat on defense, and the Wolves responded by thoroughly dominating the interior. Big Al was nasty...his usual plethora of post moves was on full display for the Target Center crowd, and he was even showing some confidence in his jumper (and a consistent jumper, I think, is one of his last remaining hurdles for becoming a truly unstoppable force in the paint).
Also, gotta say that there was great ball movement in the opening two quarters. Too often, as of late, the half court sets have gotten sluggish, and the offense has devolved into isolating McCants, Jaric, or whoever. And that's usually resulted in missed jumper after missed jumper. In the first half, though, there was a lack of "black holes" on offense, and the Wolves entered the locker room with 63 points largely because of that.
The Wolves came at the Hawks with a plethora of weapons, and Atlanta had no answer. From Jaric to McCants to Jefferson to Walker, our squad couldn't have played much better in the first half.
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Well, if anything, the Wolves have kicked it up a notch in the entertainment category over the past few nights. The Washington and New Orleans games were brutal to watch, but these last two games have been a bit more enjoyable. They've been sloppy, but watching this team has seemed like somewhat less of a chore during this past week.
Unfortunately, though, the last two games have only been enjoyable up until the final minutes. Then, as we've grown accustomed to, things have fallen apart for the Wolves.
In Denver, the game was lost in the final two minutes- and when things went downhill, they went downhill fast. Missed jumper by McCants, five second violation on an inbound, missed hook shot by Al, and it was all over. Give Denver credit...while the Wolves have had some outright late-game collapses, I'm not sure this can be categorized a "meltdown." Sure, the Wolves missed several opportunities down the stretch to steal a win from the Nugs, but more than anything, this game was lost because Denver did a great job of taking advantage of our crunch time mishaps. They gave us no room for error in the final two minutes.
A couple of bright spots: First, Antoine Walker. Admittedly, I jumped on the "Antoine sucks" bandwagon earlier in the season, but he's really come on strong in the last four games. The only thing that's been missing is the shimmy...c'mon ‘Toine, when you gonna bust out the shimmy for the Minnesota crowd?
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