9 road wins.
The second worst road record in the Western Conference.
That was last year. That was the past. Wednesday marked the start of a whole new season for Minnesota Timberwolves basketball.
Tonight’s huge road win against a bitter division rival was just what the doctor ordered. The Wolves hung tough and overcame adversity to pull out a late win in an already key game. (Both psychologically and in the division standings.)
Throughout the game it seemed that no matter what the Wolves would do to pull it close was never enough. Whenever we managed to narrow the lead it seemed that they were then able to go on a subsequent “Mini-run” to (again) increase their lead. Well, tonight the last time was the charm, as the Wolves were able to finally gain and hold the lead in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.
I didn’t get to start watching the game until about half-way through the second quarter, no thanks to my DVR. Dang technology these days… can’t live with it and can’t live without it. (I was trying to also tape the Celtics-Detroit game, no wonder it froze!) The trade off is that I don’t have to watch commercials. It’s still worth it.
- KG is back with a vengeance! 27 points and 15 boards in only 28 minutes of work. Craig Smith’s excellent play is allowing for him to get some valuable minutes on the bench for those knees of his. Hopefully this will keep him fresh throughout the year. KG is looking like he is good for a guaranteed double double every game. At the minimum I foresee a 20/12 average again this year. What more can you ask for from the steady leader of this club?
Who would have guessed our biggest impact rookie in the early going this season would be…..Craig Smith?!?! Raise your hand if you had even heard of him before the Wolves drafted him… no one, um… I had, only because his Boston College team caused me to lose some money betting on ‘Nova while I was in Vegas last year during the Final Four tournament. Since ‘Nova won (but didn’t cover the spread) I had to bet on them again the next game, right? We all know how that went… groan. Craig Smith looks like he could be the big body we need. The help down low that many of us thought was going to be our undoing this season. Instead, we got an extremely nimble athlete that can score effectively and still bang with the best of them. Did McHale steal a diamond in the rough for once? Time will tell.
- Mike James played like the free agent PG we thought we were signing this off season. I’ll admit, after the first game I had my doubts but I had to keep in mind it was only one game. He gave us just a glimpse of what he brings to the table tonight. Hopefully as he gets more familiar with KG and the rest of the team he can be the floor leader and scoring option we so desperately needed last season. The more minutes that James plays means the fewer minutes T-Hud has to play. Which is never a bad thing.
- Mark Blount came up with some timely plays and some sharp shooting tonight. He played promising, as the best center KG has ever played with. Still not decided if that is a good thing or not, but Blount came to play and hopefully he is consistent the rest of the season. He didn’t have his usually “brick hands” tonight, as he had 7 boards and only 2 turnovers. They were more like sponge hands. Not terrible but he still has room for improvement.
It was nice to out rebound the Denver Thuggets. Especially since they are a team that is supposed to have an abundance of skilled big men. (Also something that is our “deficiency” according to many experts.) Granted, KG handled most of that load, but thanks to Craig Smith’s contributions KG was still fresh at the end of the fourth quarter.
- A HUGE Road win against division rivals in a hostile environment, what’s not to love about that!
- I am incredibly happy that we did not make a move for Kenyon Martin this off-season. For what he is paid, he’s awful. He can’t play D; he takes some pretty bad shots, and can’t control his attitude. Other than his big dunk at the end of the game he didn’t do too much to excite me. I think I would puke if we were saddled with his monstrosity of a contract. Best move McHale never made.
Not As Happy Thoughts:
- The Wolves aren’t championship bound yet, and with that in mind there is always room for improvement. 19 turnovers are simply unacceptable. We have got to cut that number down if we want to win more games than we lose this year. Bottom line. It’s still early though, so I won’t harp on it.
- How in the name of everything that is good did Earl Boykins carve us up for 28 points while attempting only 10 FG’s? That can’t happen. I’ll chalk it up as an aberration. And for the record, WHY didn’t we try to post him up more often? As a general rule, any NBA player shorter than me should be posted up on every possession. At least two out of every three possessions. Even if they had to double team, at least we are making them change their game plan and that leaves someone open. If not, Mike James or Jaric, or anyone on our team should be able to back him down. I’m not the coach, but whatever.
- Casey still needs to work on his play calling coming out of timeouts. I absolutely cringed at some of those plays last year. It’s still early, I know, and I’ll give him time.
- Are the Wolves resigned to being a jump shooting team forever? I hope someone emerges that can take it to the rim with authority. I thought that was Ricky D’s specialty? Either way, we still got to the line tonight, which was a good thing so I’ll shut up. Also, our Field Goal percentage was excellent, but our three point shooting picked up where it left off last year. Somewhere between bad and awful. Who knows, hopefully James can pick up the slack in that department as he gets going this season.
- Foye. He’s not the next D-Wade… yet. I’m obviously not going to write him off, but its discouraging when Craig Smith is playing like he is and Foye can hardly get on the floor. I need to see a lot more of him before I can make any definite opinions. He has shown some flashes of the skills that we all know he has. Let’s hope that he will soon be able to put them together at the NBA Level.
It was a great win for our boys in blue, with hopefully many more to follow. Hey, we’re on pace to go 82-0!