It was the tail end of back-to-back road games, one night after an extremely hard-fought and emotional battle in Denver. So the fact that the obvioiusly fatigued Timberwolves squandered a large lead and fell to the Blazers on a three-pointer in the games final seconds, should be somewhat excusable.
Except that this season, there are no excuses.
[ad2] When you’ve got a playoffs reservation in November, or perhaps a date with the ping pong balls, throwing away a game or two to a clearly inferior opponent due to fatigue or lack of focus isn’t a huge deal. In fact, its something that happens to even the best of teams several times throughout the course of a season. But when every single game plays a direct role in determining the fate of your franchise, there’s no room for fatigue. There’s no room for a lack of focus. And there’s certainly no room for any excuses.
Despite the fact that this should have been an easy win, I knew better than to set the Wolves 3-0 record in stone. That’s why I stayed up until one in the morning watching the game on the East Coast - even when the T-Wolves had a double digit lead. It was too much of a trap-game, and the team fell right into it. The Timberwolves need to take this game and learn from it, because mistakes like this can’t happen again. When you have your foot on a young team’s throat, you need to go for the kill. Letting them hang around like that is way too risky. A few undisciplined minutes can lead to a mini-run that ignites the home crowd and sends the young guns soaring with confidence. That’s exactly what did the Wolves in. If I know this, the team should know this. And Coach Casey should certainly know this and make adjustments accordingly. This season’s first loss was an inexcusable one.
Then again, to a degree, every loss this season will be as well. That’s the mentality this team needs to have if this season is going to be as special as it could be.
Like the Nuggets game, and the Kings game before it, last year’s Minnesota Timberwolves squad would have never been in this game at the end. When the lead was blown mid-way through the fourth quarter, it would have inevitably lead to a downward spiral of massive proportions. This season the Wolves fought back and regained control of the game. They simply didn’t get the bounces in the final minute, which ended up making the difference. Granted, this game should have never come down to the final minute, but the Wolves did show a great deal of composure down the stretch that was lacking last year.
KG will probably take a lot of heat for missing his final shot to tie the score. In fact, there were several key shots that the Big Ticket failed to punch through at the end. However, to lay the blame on KG’s lack of “clutch” play would be completely unfair. The Franchise was double-teamed the entire time, and when that happens it’s up to Mike or Ricky to shoulder the load. Kevin Garnett is not Michale Jordan, and that has nothing to do being clutch, and everything to do with being a 7-foot power forward. When teams throw a double team like that, you can’t expect him to pull of a Jordan-esque play. His best bet is to pass it off to an open guard.
In Denver, KG was facing single coverage by K-Mart and he destroyed him down the stretch. If teams give Garnett one defender, chances are he’ll make the play. It’s when the Ticket gets swarmmed that his teammates need to step up. And judging by the quality of KG’s teammates throughout his career, it’s no surprise which option his opponents have gone for more often than not. I see a big difference in Kevin Garnett this year in just these first three games. He’s taking his game to a level it hasn’t been to for over two years, maybe his entire career. Don’t let last night’s slip-up fool you into thinking otherwise.
I’ll be honest. For the first time in my life, I just wasn’t pumped up for a Timberwolves season. There was too much negativity, too many questions, and way too much going on in my life with school. I just didn’t know if I had it in me to endure another season similar to last year. A big reason why I started this blog was simply to force myself into caring like I should. But the attitude of this team, and the fire with which they’ve played has made me do a complete 180. I always saw myself as the fan trying to hold up the Timberwolves nation. But over these past few days, this team has lifted me up.
And with the exception of our legendary 03-04 squad, it’s safe to say that I’ve never been prouder to call a Timberwolves team my own. It’s only been three games, but I’m begging the Wolves to keep this up. If they can do that, this season is going to be a special one. I know it. I can “feel it”.