Musings of a Wolves Fan… (11/06/07)

T-Wolves -vs- Orlando Magic (11.06.07)

 

 I went to the game last night with little expectations for a win.  That’s ok though, as I’m just hoping to see improvement from our guys and blah blah blah, you get the gist.  For some reason I just thought Orlando would come in a take care of business.  A quick trip through the game thread in the forum (and other places around the net) and you’ll see that quite a few people thought the Wolves could pull out their first win. My guess is that a lot of people think that we’ve been playing well (which we have) and that Orlando is only a “so-so” team.  I was concerned as to who on our team was going to slow down Dwight Howard, with Theo possibly out for tonight.  It turns out that Theo was a late scratch, and the answer to my question is “no one.”  Anyhow, if you are looking for pre-game happy hour establishments, I can’t recommend “Gameworks” enough.  Great deals, stiff drinks, and bartenders with selective memory when it comes to adding up the tab.  There is a good chance that Bonk and I set up camp at Gameworks last night.  There is an equally good chance that I may or may not have a pounding headache right now.  

(Click "Read More…" for thoughts and analysis.)

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-  No Foye + No Theo + No McCants + No Gerald Green = Lose.  (I was kidding about the not having Gerald Green part of the equation, but I’d rather have him play than Walker, if given a choice between the two.)

-  McCants was 4-4 from the field before he went down with an ankle in the first quarter. He’s not my favorite player, but it was honestly too bad as he was playing well and probably could have used his offense later in the game.

-  Big Al started off relatively slow with something like 13 points and 5 rebounds through the first three quarters.  However, he showed off an impressive array of post moves and shots down low in a very solid fourth quarter.   He shot 55% on his field goals for the game, which is what I’d love to see all season. Unfortunately, he didn’t do enough in the early stages of the game for the Wolves to pull out the win, despite the fact that he wasn’t even being double teamed with the same frequency as he had been in the first two games.  Perhaps Dwight Howard is just that beastly of a defender?

-  The Wolves led early in the first quarter, which slowly whittled down to a 56-50 deficit by halftime.  Orlando eventually led by 16 with 10:32 to play in the game, before the Wolves went on a 14-0 run to cut the lead to 92-90.   Unfortunately for the Wolves, Rashard Lewis decided to actually start earning his contract and nailed three straight 3-points to push the lead back to 101-95, and the Magic never looked back. 

-  Rashard Lewis was money, hitting some huge shots down the stretch.  The Magic may not have won the game without his timely shooting.  7 of 9 from behind the arc?  Geez, he was lights out.   All that for the low, low price of $100 million guaranteed dollars.

As Jeremy mentioned earlier this week, Dwight Howard is simply a sight to behold in person.  Watching him on TV really doesn’t do his game justice.  He went off for 28 points and 16 rebounds, as no one on our team sans Theo was able to contain him.  His +17 in 39 minutes wasn’t too shabby either.  By not too shabby I really mean awesome.  His shooting range isn’t fabulous and he does have a tendency to turn the ball over (although none this game), but who cares because he’s a beast.  He had some monster slams last night and is a rebounding machine.  I’m a big fan of Howard and can’t wait to watch him and Jefferson play each other for the next 10 years.  Should be some good “smash mouth” match-ups between those two.  (For lack of any better term, you really can’t go wrong quoting Kevin McHale.)

-  Also, thanks for stopping by to chat Jeremy, that was cool and nice to meet you.  You know where we live… errr, sit.  You’re welcome to come by again.

-  Only the second home game of the season and the crowd was already pretty weak.  The upper level was nearly empty, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if there was truly only about 10,000 peeps at the game.  NBA.com had it listed officially as twelve thousand something.

- Equally impressive was the play of Greg Buckner.  He was a steadying force out there and shot the lights out.  I honestly didn’t see that one coming.  Due to Theo being out and McCants getting injured, Buckner played more minutes than I would have ever imagined going into the game.  However, he certainly impressed on both the offensive and defensive ends in his 39 minutes on the court.  I don’t expect that every game (or many games at all quite frankly), but that’s the type of leadership and play from a veteran that these young guys will need to make it through the season. 

-  Brewer had his best game of the season and Gomes his worst.  Brewer hit 2 big threes en route to 10 points and 6 rebounds in 29 minutes.  Hopefully he can build off last night.  As for Gomes, he only played 25 minutes last night.  I was wondering why Wittman wasn’t playing him.  I see that he shot 1-5 from the field, but he was also 7 of 9 from the charity stripe.  I didn’t think he played terribly, but when the standard of excellence was set so high the first two games, I can understand how it’s hard to reach that every time out on the court.  I give Brewer props and a mulligan to Gomes.

-  Antoine Walker’s “game” is like a (really) bad dream.  You don’t really know where it came from or what’s going on, but you just want it to end.  Employee #8 was taking shots (and bricking them) with a frightening lack of abandon.  As disheartening as his 25% field goal percentage is on the season, I really have to ask why he’s even averaging 13 minutes per game. Can he even jump anymore?  Is he really a steadying influence out there on the court?  (No.) Does he bring other intangibles other than his horrific accuracy, such as rebounding, hustle, defense, and an understanding of team offense? (No, No, No, and hell No.)   Really, he shouldn’t be playing.  I must have missed the part where he was part of the youth movement.  How about this for an encore, Walker is making $8,547,000 this season for his ineptitude. 

-  Darren Sharper found time to be at the game.  That’s cool, I like Sharper.  I’m still trying to figure out who the guy behind him was though…

-  I even got to view the game from press row for about half a quarter (shhh…. Don’t tell anyone.)  It’s a little too quiet and devoid of cheering for my liking, but nice view nonetheless.  I also like that you can observe the Wolves bench pretty well.  That should be interesting to see the expressions and mannerisms of some of the guys that don’t get much playing time after we start off the season at 3-17.

-  The free throw disparity wasn’t as bad in the past two games, but the Magic still had a 44 to 25 advantage in free throws attempted.  The Wolves really need to improve on getting to the line as the season progresses.  We won’t win many games if opponents are shooting twice as many free throws as us every game. 

-  15 total turnovers wasn’t terrible for the Wolves.  However, the Magic only had 9, which is yet another area in which they out performed us.

-  Marko Jaric had the most improbable double-double of the young season with 10 points and 10 assists (and only 1 turnover?!)  I never thought that would happen, then again I never though a team would trade for Mark Blount.  Dare I say that Jaric played well?  He was active on the defensive end actually seemed capable of running the offense.  On top of his startlingly good line, he also had the second best +/- at +4.  My hopes this season were that Telfair would have some games like this, but who knows if he’ll truly pan out.  I didn’t think Telfair played too badly, but likewise, he also didn’t do much of anything to impress.  I wasn’t surprised when I got home to find out that he was 1-5 with 4 assists and 3 turnovers.  I won’t even mention his team worst +/- of -13.  Oh wait, I just did.

-  Wow, a Doleac sighting?  Could it be?  He looks like an uglier, scarier version of Ethan Hawke in the movie Training Day.

-  Inexplicably, Antoine Walker had the best +/- on the team at +7.   Honestly, I have no explanation for this.  If anyone can come up with any reasons to disprove “+/-“ as a valid statistical measurement tool, this is it. 

-  In closing, I hear that “Augies” is a fine, upstanding establishment.
 

CW

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