TWOLVES WIN 111-100
Early Sunday evening, the Timberwolves went into the fourth quarter with a Western Conference powerhouse equipped with one of the league's pimpy point guards and a staff of deadly shooters tied at 74-74. The Wolves scored 12 and gave up 28.
Moderately late on Tuesday evening, the Timberwolves went into the fourth quarter with another Western Conference powerhouse equipped with one of the league's pimpy point guards, only this one can also score, and a brigade of inside and outside scorers. Deja vu? No, you'll have to save that for that crappy time-travel movie where Denzel mails it in. The Wolves buckled down in the fourth, scored from all angles, repelled Jazz runs, and came away with a well-deserved 111-100 victory.
I haven't read or seen any articles, recaps or highlight packages of tonights game, but I really hope ESPN and the other national outlets tell this game like it is:
The Jazz did not lose because they beat themselves, the Jazz lost because the Minnesota Timberwolves played a great game.
<-- Korver cowers in fear, considers return to That 70's Show after McCants yells at him. (NBAE/Getty Images)
As a matter of fact, this might be the best game I've seen in Target Center this season. The two Phoenix wins were more fun and Jefferson had those performances where he gets blasted by gamma rays and turns into the Incredible Hulk, but the win tonight was a total team effort with consistent play and very solid decision making for the most part. On top of that, the Utah Jazz played well tonight. I think the Jazz can be seriously proud of the game they played, they just got beat. Look at this box score. Five Wolves in double digits, four of them over 20 points! If you bet me a reasonable sum (in my gambling view that's anything up to $1,000 for something like I'm about to present) that at a Timberwolves home game this season we would have four 20 point scorers in one game, I would have taken your bet...well, if I could take your bet. Which I can't, because it's not legal. Nevermind.
It's not just that they scored 20 points each, either. Of the 20 point scorers, would you guess that Jefferson had the lowest shooting percentage tonight? The people who are paid to make open shots on this team made them. Here's the other interesting piece here, the Jazz shot a better percentage from the field (46.4% to 43.2%), the free throw line (83.3% to 71.8%) and the 3-point line (46.2% to 71.8%). The Jazz also had more assists (26 to 18). So how did the Wolves overcome this? They created 24 turnovers (11 more than the Wolves had) and turned that into 19 extra shot attempts and, ultimately, six more field goals.
But it was refreshing to get a superb fourth quarter out of this squad. My seats are in the lower corner and we had the Jazz coming in our direction in the second half. The Wolves had started to build a semi-comfortable lead towareds the end and then the Jazz ran three two-guard screens down low for three easy layups and suddenly the lead had vanished and the Wolves chances to win seemed as solid as a sub-prime loan. I remember leaning over to my buddy Ryan (I lean because there's always enough seats open in our row for buffer seats, thanks Glen!), who also came to the Dallas game, and said, "Here we go again, tied going into the fourth against a pimpy point guard." Well, crow is on the plate and I'm eating it.
Good win tonight for the Wolves.
I've got some other stuff related to game, the team in general, the Jazz and possible Western Conference regrets after the jump. Click read more and come along.
OK, for the three of you that clicked, let's do this bullet-style.
- To Ryan Gomes: If you have any control over the music that plays when you score, can you please ask for a different song than "Magic" by Pilot? I like seeing you score, but it's not worth it to hear that song 10 times a game.
- In related news, the "Foye to the Future" campaig where they superimpose Randy's face on Michael J. Fox's body next to the Delorean has to go. As far as I'm concerned, you can use that Delorean to run Sweetwater Jones over, while you're at it.
- Boozer had the quietest 34 points I've seen this season. I remember looking up at the scoreboard at one point and saying to Ryan, "How the heck is he at 28 points?" Well, as I said in the second paragraph, it's because he has a pimpy point guard. Of the elite point guards I've watched over the past two seasons, I think Deron Williams has the best ability to get the ball to his teammates in the lane for easy buckets. That's not to say the other elites can't do it, but at that one skill, I think Williams is the best right now. Like a stud running back for a great O-line, I hope Boozer is getting Williams some nice gifts.
- My final Jazz note: I can understand why AK-47 is displeased with his role in the offense. He has a very nice stroke and he can still drive the lane. However, Sloan is one of the three best coaches in the league right now and his team went to the Western Conference finals last year and their on pace to play at least one playoff series at home this season in a brutally elite Western Conference. Which leads me to:
- I picked the Jazz four days ago in Roundhouse's forum post soliciting answers to our finals picks and I stand by that pick. I have the Jazz beating the Lakers and then the Pistons (who I have beating the Raptors...yes, the Raptors). I like the Jazz's depth and coaching. However, they are royally effed if anything happens to Williams.
- Speaking of the West, SG put up a post earlier this week to an article with a Jefferson quote about the Wolves playing spoiler. I really believe that whichever 48-50 win team in the West misses the playoffs will look at their schedule and see a "L" next to one of their games with Minnesota...or possible two "L"s (I'm talking to you Phoenix). Memo to the Jazz: you still get the Wolves three more times in the next 30-some days.
- Two last Wolves thoughts. First, we finally got to see Theo and Al play some stretches together tonight. Sunday they were barely on the floor together. I didn't see any offensive benefits. When Al is down low, Theo hangs at the free throw line, where he's not a threat. I guess we'll see more as time goes on, but it's a definite bonus not to have Al guarding the opposition's C.
- Finally, plan your parade routes: Kirk Snyder has arrived! He looks like he's got some game, at least more than Green has*. Work on those free throws.
*(Although I think it's safe to say I am the biggest Green hater on this site. I still think he looks as confused on the court as the high school sophomore who's 15 year old girlfriend just said, "I'm pregnant.")