Bobcats Defeat Timberwolves 109-89
As a fan of Minnesota sports, including our NFL representative, I have to make a brief comment in acknowledgement of one of the Vikings most worthy NFC Central (it will always be the "Central" for me) opponents over the years. That's right, after a long, successful career which included one Superbowl win, Warren Sapp retired today. Good luck with your post-football life, Warren!
Early in the season, the Timberwolves squad consistently struggled with free throw disparity and it lost them several close games. This game wasn't close, and neither was the free throw disparity. The Bobcats made 23 of their 29 free throws and the Wolves made 5 of their 9 free throws. That equals 20 extra chances at points that the Wolves gave the Bobcats and the Cats capatilized to the tune of an extra 18 points. Combine the free throws with a lackluster fourth quarter and the recipe is another home loss to a non-playoff Eastern Conference team (aren't they all?).
Too much Matt Carroll (has that ever been said) and his three hands (doesn't this picture make it look like that) for Marko and the Wolves. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Despite several key injuries coming in - the Wolves were without Corey Brewer (thigh) and Rashad McCants (flu-like), and the Bobcats were without their highest scorer, Gerald Wallace - this was a closely contested game, with neither team creating a lead larger than 6 points at any point in the game up until 2:36 seconds remaining in the third. With the game 76-75 Bobcats, Jason Richardson hit a three sparking a combination of Wolves miscues and lights-out Bobcat shooting to create a 14-2 run over a six minute period. The Wolves called a timeout with 8:34 left in the fourth down 90-77 and the Bobcats never looked back. Quickly examining the box score, it's easy to find the villains for the Wolves demise, the 27-14 fourth quarter and the aforementioned free-throw disparity. Allowing six Bobcats to score in double figures, five of those exceeding their season averages (and Felton meeting his) also hurts the winning-cause like a Brett Favre interception (in related, less powerful-than-Sapp news, I heard he retired, too).
Escaping the pure numbers and relying on observation, Al Jefferson had an off-game. Several of the short, soft-touch shots that usually fall weren't dropping tonight. Al did not have a terrible game by any means, but in the course of an 82 game season, this is bound to happen. When Al has an off game, this team needs to find a way to get to get other easy buckets or else clamp down on the defensive end...neither happened tonight and the result was a 20-point home trouncing by a team that's weak even by Eastern Conference standards.
Come with me after the jump (click "Read More") for some positives from tonight's game (Bassy), some individual analysis, my inquiry as to who you think is the most attractive dance team member, and me calling out three players on this team I think can get to the charity stripe, yet don't get there enough.
OK, per usual, this post-jump section will be in bullet form:
- Whether you're a fan of McCants and/or Turbo or not, they are obviously a large part of this team's game plan and the Wolves played admirably (at least up until the 14-2 run) if you factor in Jefferson's off-game and the lack of McCants and Turbo. I realize that's weak, but I'm trying to add some positivity.
- Bassy had 9 assists tonight and only one turnover. He also forced Felton into some bad shots and held Felton to 3-11 from the field. As someone who is turning around on Bassy, I want to see the following two things from him next season to convince me he can develop into a solid starting point guard on a decent team (I think he would be the age-equivalent of a four-year collegiate player next season): 1) an improved mid-range jumper, and 2) a little extra bulk. On the offensive side, a reliable, respectable jumper from Bassy would open a lot of doors. As far as the bulk, he still has problems with the quick and stocky guards like Felton, who, despite a bad shooting night, was able to muscle past Telfair into the paint and get to the line 7 times.
- On a related Bassy note, he averages 5.9 assist per game, a number that would greatly increase if his teammates hit two or three of the open jumpers when Bassy gives them that opportunity. I realize that not all jumpers are going to fall, but this squad has missed a lot of shots that are near-automatic for even the middle-of-the-road teams.
- Greg Buckner sighting!
- Captain Kirk Snyder is playing for his job. He took advantage tonight of Turbo's injury to the tune of 32 minutes. He played OK. I know the box score says 3-4 with with 8 boards, which would normally cause me to say, "Got more than expected." However, if you were at the game, he had several offensive and defensive miscues. The three turnovers on the box scores were three telegraphed passes that led to layups or dunks. In the fourth, I remember my buddy Ryan stating, "For a guy that touched the ball as much as he did tonight, it sure seems like he should have more than 8 points," and I agreed. It seemed like Snyder was taking shots like Joseph Forte, yet I get home and the box score says he only took four shots. In any event, I promise he was more prominently involved tonight than four shots. Defensively, Capt. Kirk is basically solely responsible for "Matt Carrol - 18 points". I will give him some credit - he's playing like his NBA career depends on it, and it probably does. Don't buy your Snyder jersey just yet.
- I have the fortune of knowing several ticketholders in my section. Among them are a few of my coworkers who are huge fans of Timberwolves Dance Team member Bianca. I have argued that Sally is the most attractive of the dancers. I really think it's a no-lose debate, but for the three of you reading this, who do you think is the most attractive Timberwolves Dance Team member? If nothing, they're the most consistent team in the building each night.
- As for the free throw disparity, the three players I think need to get to the line more are Foye, McCants and Gomes. Foye shot 7-11 from the field tonight, including 2-3 from the three point line, but attempted no free throws. Gomes shot 7-18 from the field, 3-5 from the three point line, but attempted no free throws. Over the previous 5 games Foye, who has been playing better with the exception of his atrocious Cleveland game (1-9, 4 points in 34 minutes), has attempted a total of six free throws while playing 34.2 minutes per game. McCants is only averaging 2.0 free throws per night. Finally, Gomes is averaging 2.7 free throw attempts per game. I have a triumvirate of reasons for calling this trio out: 1) the squad relies on them for scoring; 2) they all have somewhat respectable outside shots; and 3) I believe they all have the ability to get into the lane and draw contact.
That's all I have from a very disappointing game.