Hey, at least this game mixed things up a bit. Most of our prior games had been decided in the final 5-6 minutes...but this one was pretty much over before we even reached the fourth quarter.
In the past three games, especially, this team has gone where Rashad McCants has taken them. In Tuesday's game against the Kings, Rashad had a dominant performance, and the Wolves earned every bit of that win. Against the Wizards, McCants' lack of playing time in the fourth quarter helped Washington take control of the game in crunch time. And tonight, Rashad struggled from start to finish- and the Wolves ended up getting spanked by the Hornets.
The streakiness of McCants has definitely been evident during this past week. A few nights ago, Rashad put up a career-high 33 points and dominated the second half- tonight, though, he simply never got into a rhythm and shot a disappointing 2-8 from the field, finishing with 7 points.
Arguably, then, the biggest challenges Rashad faces are of the mental sort. We've seen his talent on full display during several games this season, but we just haven't seen much consistency from him in his young NBA career.
When Rashad can get into a shooting rhythm with more regularity, he'll be a great player. He just needs to get that confidence level up, and work out the other mental kinks that are preventing him from being great on a nightly basis.
On a more general level, the Wolves suffered from too many offensive lapses against the Hornets. Rashad's rough game didn't help matters, and our guys could have done a better job of slowing things down and finding open looks in their half court sets. The half court offense just wasn't methodical enough...too many ill-advised jumpers, too many shots with lots of time remaining on the shot clock, etc.
Pretty good outing for Bassy, though. He shot the ball well (7-11 from the field), and he finished an unusually high amount of his drives.
Still, I do agree with Jim Peterson's assessment that Telfair needs to add some upper-body strength...there were plenty of times tonight when Bassy got pummeled while penetrating, so he might be well-served to spend some quality time in the weight room.
The officiating in tonight's game has been a hot topic of discussion among Wolves fans, and I certainly wasn't impressed with the officials. There were many non-calls on both sides (although as a Wolves fan, I'm inclined to think that we got more screwed by the refs than the Hornets did), but the officials didn't even come close to deciding this game.
Back to the positives (gotta keep looking on the bright side to keep from going crazy, right?). Big Al turned in 20 and 10, which is just another day at the office for him. I was a little worried about the rebounding situation with Ratliff out and Jefferson sliding over to center, but that turned out to be a non-issue.
The effort on the defensive end was underwhelming. The Hornets did a great job of making the extra pass and finding the open man, and the Wolves have yet to become truly organized on defense.
Simply too many defensive breakdowns for our squad...we're giving up too many open looks, and leaving too many guys unguarded. More than anything, I think that's probably due to the fact that these guys just haven't played together much- watching our defensive mishaps, I can't but feel that there's a lack of communication on defense, and that our guys just aren't quite comfortable with each other at this point.
Another thing- the Wolves aren't taking care of the basketball. Too many stupid turnovers...there's been a noticeably high amount of travelling calls on this team, Rashad's just not making great decisions with the ball (eight turnovers against the Wizards, three turnovers tonight), and I've noticed plenty of poor passes in transition.
Finally, I encourage everyone to vote for Antoine Walker for the All-Star game. Why, you ask? Well c'mon...honestly, who wouldn't want to make a mockery of the All-Star selection process?
And hey, nothing's impossible. If the "Vote for the Worst" campaign could get Sanjaya into the top ten of American Idol, then who says we can't vote 'Toine into the West's starting five?