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.
When I arrived at the game at about 6:50 pm, the place looked nearly empty, which is not surprising because of the snow. However, in a tribute to Kobe fans (it seemed like Kobe fans outnumbered Wolves fans) the place filled up to approximately the normal showing for the season, perhaps even more as the upper levels looked occupied. Now, before I build up to why this attendence should be important, I need to get one thing out in the open that I've ignored and kept my mouth shut about: THIS TEAM IS BAD.
Over the past few weeks, I've read, heard and watched various NBA and Wolves outlets that attribute the team's record to youth, inexperience, coaching, injuries, etc. In our own forums, I even read one argument that this team is good by the poster listing each individual player, writing a small item of praise on him, and then basically predicting that each, in turn, will develop into a dream-team calibur superstar. Are they young this year? For the most part, yes. Are they inexperienced, especially playing together? Definitely. Does the coach suck? Maybe I don't know enough about scheming, but the general opinion is yes. Have they had injuries? Yes. Do any of these arguments change the fact that THIS SEASON this is a BAD TEAM? No. They are 2-14, please argue against that. Before you prep your argument, playing close for 3 quarters and praising effort doesn't count...especially last night. I said in my initial season preview that I wasn't looking for a win/loss record to judge this team. I'm still not. However, they have to give it their all every game to keep any fanbase here, and they didn't last night. They're not improving in the areas they should and, at this juncture, Big Al is the only piece definitely worth keeping (again, market price on guys like Gomes, Smith, etc. not being too high, bring them back).
As far as the each individual being good argument? Maybe they are or can be, just not together on this team. This isn't tennis or golf. Teams have to put 5 individuals on the court at the same time, each responsible for some part of offense and some part of defense. These five players make up a TEAM. The Wolves as a team have shown 14 out of 16 times that they can't beat the other team, regardless of the individual players who they put out there. On top of that, some of the players that should be playing for NBA jobs anywhere next year don't look like they're trying, even when given minutes.
Here's the bottom line: attendence for last night's game is listed by ESPN as 17,513. This has to be based on ticket sales. However, let's estimate that 12,000 showed up. Let's go out on a limb and say 2,000 of those were Kobe fans, which may be overshooting it but is not out of the ballpark from what I saw. That leaves 10,000 Wolves fans, every one of which has a legitimate gripe if they were not satisfied by the effort of this team last night, especially given (a) that tickets cost money and (b) the commuting circumstances to even make it to last night's game. The Wolves looked like they had mailed it in from beginning to end. The only player last night I give credit for trying: Antoine Walker. He was clearly injured and he played 19 minutes limping around the arena. Win/loss record aside, if this team is going to mail in the effort, then they cannot expect anyone to spend $1 on coming to the arena.
At least I got to see Kobe do a 360 dunk.