Another Take: Wolves/Nuggets

It didn’t take long for the 18,000+ at Target Center to see evidence
that things have drastically changed for their squad. From the opening
tip, this team’s rediscovered energy was obvious- the offense was
electric, they moved the ball extremely well, and the Telfair-directed
attack was always one step ahead of the Denver defense. Simply put, the
first quarter was an offensive showcase for the Wolves.

quick start didn’t last, unfortunately, and the Wolves offense
gradually slowed down until it became absolutely stagnant in the fourth
quarter. That opened the door for Denver to grab control of the
game…and the Nuggs took advantage. Carmello simply couldn’t be stopped
in crunch time.

It was a disappointing loss, for sure. We gave the Nuggets a battle for the first 42 minutes, and lost it in the last six.

But there’s still a lot to feel good about.

McCants, for one, was simply outstanding. My main criticism of
McCants is his streakiness…while Rashad can consistently make an impact
through using his athleticism to penetrate and create shots, his jumper
has proven itself to be quite streaky. Tonight, the jumper was
falling…and when his jumper is dropping, McCants has the power to carry
the offensive load.

He did just that. When Rashad was in the
game, the offense operated through him. He was the first option, and
took full advantage of open looks and lapses in the Denver defenses. He
was very opportunistic, and I loved it.

I’m also feeling good
about Telfair’s performance. Telfair kept the offense up-tempo, while
still remaining under control…when he was in the game, the Nuggets
defense was constantly off-balance.

The same can’t be said for
Marko Jaric. When Marko was at point, things seemed very disjointed and
unorganized on offense. The Wolves also tended to get stuck into a
halfcourt offense with Jaric at the helm…and it’s already clear that a
halfcourt offense ain’t gonna work for this team nearly as well as a
quick, fast break-oriented style of play.

Another disappointment
from tonight’s game: Antoine Walker. The guy can’t shoot. And he’s a
liability on defense- the Nuggs did a good job of exploiting Walker’s
slowness on defense, as they seemed to attack him pretty frequently.
Maybe Pat Reilly’s assessment of Walker was accurate, after all.

go back to the positives of the game, shall we? Theo Ratliff turned in
a fantastic 30 minutes, scoring 14 and getting to the line for nine
free throws.

I’m perfectly fine with admitting that I
completely dismissed the possibility of Theo potentially contributing
to this team. But it’s becoming increasingly apparent that, if he can
stay healthy, Theo will be huge for the Wolves. He’s a guy that could
quickly become a crowd-favorite.

No, he won’t put up 14 points
on each and every night, but he’s aggressive, and he’s a ridiculously
effective shot blocker. I’m really starting to like the guy…he’s just a
gutsy veteran who will quickly find his role on the team.

As for
Big Al, it was disappointing to see him vanish in the fourth quarter,
but I’m generally pleased with what I saw from the big man tonight. He
had a very KG-like 13 rebounds, and his footwork in the post is
sick…just gotta get him more involved in crunch time.

It was a
rough loss…while watching the offensive explosion of the first quarter,
I really felt that we could grab a win from a superior team. But still,
the Wolves have nothing to be ashamed of. They gave Carmello and AI all
they could handle, and that’s something to feel good about.

probably see plenty more close games slip away in crunch time, but
that’s fine. Eventually, the Wolves will start winning more and more of
these hotly-contested games…we’ve just gotta have some patience.

I’m more than willing to be patient. After all, if tonight’s game was
any indication, it will be a blast to watch these guys grow together.
We may drop these close games and get blown-out on occasion, but this
will clearly be a fun team to watch.

It’s a refreshing change
from the past few seasons- in those years, watching the Wolves often
seemed more like a chore than entertainment.

No need to be upset
over this one…yeah, a win against Carmello, AI and company would have
been a sweet way to kick off this new era, but I’m still very pleased
with the effort from our guys. Although it sucked to see our offense
collapse in the fourth quarter, I left the Target Center feeling better
about the direction of this organization.

TWolves Blog Staff

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