We've almost gotten to the point where we can script out the exact course of a Wolves game. Our squad gets off to a hot start in the first quarter, but we put ourselves in a hole in the second and third periods. And even though the Pups battle back in the fourth, they ultimately fall short.
The Wolves did an exceptional job of getting up and down the court to start the game, and their transition-oriented offense garnered them 28 first quarter points.
Problem is, though, that there's a fine line between an up-tempo game and a sloppy game. The Wolves offense, in the second quarter, went from the former category to the latter category.
Much of that, I think, was caused by Sebastian Telfair. After opening night, I said that the Jaric-led offense was disjointed and unorganized, while Telfair kept the offense up-tempo and under control. Last night, those roles reversed, for the most part.
Jaric kept the offense in more half-court sets than I would've liked, and the Wolves kinda turned into a jump shooting team with him leading the offense in the second half...BUT, the Pups weren't nearly as sloppy with Jaric at the helm as they were with Telfair.
I'm perfectly willing to give Telfair a chance. But he's having some problems...he can't finish on the drive, the jump shot is extremely inconsistent, and the team was, at times, sloppy with him at point last night. I liked what I saw from Telfair in the fourth quarter, but he had a rough first half.
Really, this is all just a fancy way of saying that this squad needs Foye. Badly.
The fast-paced offense of the first half turned into a jump shooting offense in the second half, and that helped the Lakers take control of the game.
Perimeter defense was a major problem for the Wolves. The Lakers were penetrating without much resistance from our D, and that translated into endless easy baskets and trips to the free throw line for LA. Don't blame the free throw disparity on a lack of respect for the Wolves (the Lakers shot 41 free throws, the Wolves shot 14), because the Lakers were constantly driving, while the Wolves settled for jumpers far too often.
Logically, a fix for these perimeter defensive woes would be giving Corey Brewer more minutes. Unfortunately, though, Corey frankly doesn't deserve those minutes at this point in time...he looks in over his head out there. That's not to say that he can't have a productive rookie year, but it does appear as if the transition to the NBA game is proving difficult for Corey.
The Lakers also got way too many second-chance opportunities. The loss of KG has undoubtedly hurt us on the defensive boards...Big Al had eight defensive boards, but no one gave hum much help in limiting LA's second-chance opportunities.
Ryan Gomes and Craig Smith combined for two defensive rebounds. Both of them, and especially Craig, need to do a lot more to help Big Al clean up the defensive glass. Craig is an excellent offensive rebounder, but he has yet to translate that ability to the other end of the floor.
The transition defense was painfully lacking, as well. During the game, Bucker, Telfair, and a host of others were caught being sluggish in the transition D, and that resulted in 21 fast break points for the Lakers.
Back to Jefferson...this guy has not disappointed in his first four games as a Wolf.
One play stands out...Jeff was in the post, and was guarded by Chris Mihm. After a series of step fakes, he pumped, and drove right by Mihm for an easy slam. If that play doesn't show what a fundamentally-sound player Jefferson is, then I don't know what will.
When guarded one-on-one in the block, Jefferson is virtually unstoppable. He has a seemingly endless amount of ways to attack a defender.
It was great to see Gerald Green finally get some minutes, and he certainly made a pretty good case for himself to the coaching staff. He kept the mistakes to a minimum, and nailed a three and a 15-footer.
I'm not totally sure what the reasoning was behind playing Green so sparingly prior to last night, but I just hope Green's solid 10 minutes against LA are enough to convince Witt to give the kid more of a chance. It's been a shame to see Green, an exceptionally gifted athlete, getting a grand total of 11 minutes in the first four games.
I know Witt wants Green to play smart basketball and execute, but he's just gotta let the kid play.
That's all I've got for last night's game...let's hope the Wolves can break from their usual script against Sacramento, as this is a very winnable game. They've just gotta keep the offensive energy up beyond the first quarter, limit Sactown's second-chance opportunities, play better defense on the perimeter and in transition, and GET TO THE FREE THROW LINE.