T-Wolves -vs- Cleveland Cavaliers (11.21.07)
TimberwolvesToday.com Recap: http://www.timberwolvestoday.com/?p=43#comments
Off to yet another game at the Target Center with Bonk. This game was actually closer for the majority of the contest than the final score indicated, despite the fact that the Wolves were without Randy Foye, Sebastian Telfair, and Theo Ratliff. The Cavs won handily thanks to the fourth quarter domination by the man-child Lebron. He had 10 straight points in the last two minutes… which resulted in the 11 point victory. I don’t think he even broke a sweat. For the game he tallied 45 points, 8 boards, and 5 assists. Big Al didn’t do too shabby himself, notching 30 points and 8 rebounds on 12-20 shooting. The Wolves rallied back from about a 14 point deficit to get within 4 points in the fourth quarter, but their spirited comeback fell short. Ha, go figure.
As season ticket holders, we brought with our coupons to receive our free throw blankets and Wolves season scrapbooks. Not as cool as last year when we could pick between jerseys, shorts, t-shirts, and bobbleheads… but better than nothing I suppose. Next year we’ll probably get coupons for half off one food item. The “scrapbook” is lame, and they gave us two of them. Why? The “blankets” are decent I guess. However, they are paper thin and smell like mothballs. I wouldn’t stick them in your trunk for use as emergency blankets, I can tell you that much. If you stitched them both together and made one super season ticket holder Wolves blanket, it would probably be big enough to cover up Corey Brewer. However, it definitely would not be big enough to keep Antoine “Mount Foodji” Walker warm. On a side note, I may be sitting here scribing this sitting in nothing but the said blank. Just kidding. Maybe.
(Click "Read More…" for thoughts and analysis.)
– We actually sat in our seats a good 20 or so minutes early. Amazing how early one can get to the game when one doesn’t spend beforehand drinking away one’s sorrows… errr, I mean at Happy Hour. On our way up to our seats we chatted with Mr. Litel as usual. He had some inside info and let us know that Gomes was back in the starting lineup. And our center was… Doleac? What? Uhhh Stephen… are you serious?!?! Anyhow, it turns out he was correct. Doleac started. I hope it never happens again. Also, we met Neil and Rob from TimberwolvesToday.com which was pretty cool. Nice meeting you guys! Glad you could make it up to the TC. If either of you are reading this, you probably don’t know it, but you moved down into the same row as Bonk and I’s season tickets, one section over on our right.
– The official listed attendance was 15,224. I’m pretty sure there weren’t actually that many people there (as it is always counting “tickets sold.”) The upper deck looked pretty empty. My guess is that there were around 13 or so thousand peeps in attendance.
– I hate our new jumbotron pre-game video introduction thingy. It sucks. Last year’s Timberwolf running through the forest and then into the Target Center was infinitely cooler. This year’s introduction is a few highlights of our players and then… “See What They Can Do” flashes on the screen. The answer is apparently “Not Much” if our 1-8 start is any indication. Enjoy the game.
– A big topic of discussion in our forums is McCant’s pre-game “ritual.” It’s a huge rip-off of what KG used to do for us the past 12 years. He waits around by himself until everyone else is on the court and then finally walks over to the scorer’s table. He grabs the powder, splashes it on his hands and then blows it over the media dudes. The F***? Dude, I know KG was your buddy and mentor and all, but seriously. I don’t think the fans are ready for this yet. What exactly have you achieved in the NBA that makes you think you can pilfer KG’s routine? Oh wait, you are scoring 17 points per game on a 1-8 team. Oh, ok. No problems here then.
– The starting lineup is Jaric, McCants, Gomes, Big Al, and Doleac. That makes the fifth different starting lineup by our count. In the “Battle of the Bloggers” on Timberwolves.com, one of my two season predictions was that the Wolves would have “more different starting lineups than wins.” So far Starting Lineups 5 – Wins 1. Just call me College Wolstradomus.
– The Wolves promo people (the lovely Natalie and Wally Szerzbiack’s shorter, slightly less good looking doppelganger) do a “Best Seats in the House” promotion every game. It’s sponsored by some airline that I can’t remember. It entails some people receiving the said best seats and getting on the jumbotron. The problem is that the seats aren’t all that great. I mean, if you are going to advertise them as the “Best Seats in the House” shouldn’t they be courtside? Perhaps on Glen Taylor’s lap? I dunno, but seats that are perpendicular to one basket at the top of the lower bowl just don’t seem like “Best Seats in the House” territory to me.
– A Mark Maddog Madsen sighting in the first quarter. So much energy. So much emotion. So much hustle. So much “want-to.” So little skill. He’s also got some black sleeve thing over his injured shoulder. It looks “Now.” Regardless, the crowd loves him. Second biggest ovation of the entire game, after the army dude that received two Purple Hearts. He was introduced before the game started. Shockingly, he received the biggest ovation of the game. Ok, maybe it’s not shocking. Our crowd sucks.
– Question: If Madsen is truly healthy, why not just start him over Doleac? They are basically the same player anyways. Well wait, I take that back. Madsen doesn’t have wobbly knees that bend inwards when he runs, nor does he look like he just woke up from under a bridge this morning. Madsen has more heart, hustle, desire, and is a better bench-cheerer (is that a word?) Let’s go to the stats to solve this one. Doleac played 19 minutes and Maddog 13. They both attempted 0 shots and had 0 points. So, at least we can deduce that neither is a ball hog. That’s refreshing with both Walker and McCants on this team. Madsen had 3 rebounds and 2 fouls. Doleac had 4 rebounds, 1 foul, 1 assist, and 1 turnover. Madsen had the better “per 48 minutes played” rebounding average, so obviously he’s the better rebounder. Since defense is pretty subjective, we’ll just say that neither is better. They are equally sucky. Madsen had a “+/-“of -1, while Doleac was -3. Therefore Madsen is better and should start. The stats clearly prove it.
– Lebron drops 15 in the first quarter. He’s good. We don’t seem to have an answer for him, yet the game remains close. Chalk this up as another “fast start.” Yay, moral victories and fist pounds all around. Wolves lead by one (25-24) at the end of the first.
– Why is (Dim) Wittman playing five relative “stiffs” for the first six minutes of the second quarter? The game is still close! Stupid. Without concrete facts available for you guys, those six minutes were largely spent with some combination of Buckner, Green, Walker, Doleac, Madsen, and Richard on the court. I think a little Jaric was sprinkled in as well. The hell is that? Is Wittman honestly still trying to find a rotation and pecking order? That’s what the pre-season is for numbnuts. Jeremy of Twolvesblog has an excellent take on this. I’m not sure if Wittman is aware that you don’t have to make line changes. This isn’t a video game… or hockey. Perhaps when the other team has all five starters out, we should be trying to make a run? No? I mean, it’s not like our guys are tired… they had a full three days off, while the Cavs played just last night! Let’s just say the rotations were bizarre at best and leave it at that. We could have Doc Rivers or Dwane Casey as our coach, so let’s just give thanks I guess.
– Would it hurt Wittman to get fired up and show a little emotion towards the refs while on the sidelines? Will he ever draw a technical in defense of our players or a perceived bad call? That might actually fire up the woebegone crowd. What’s the over/under on the number of technical fouls he receives this year? .5?
– There was a point in the second quarter where I believe the only starter on the court for either team was Big Z. (I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.) Those few minutes were some of the most excruciating minutes of basketball I have seen this season. Turnovers and missed shots galore. The subs for both of these teams are not very good. Closed circuit call to Mike Brown and Wittman, it is possible to play some starters with backups at other positions. Just a thought.
– Wittman calls a timeout with like 20-something seconds to draw up a play for… Antoine Walker. That’s right, Sir Francis Bacon himself. Needless to say, he misses the three-point attempt. Is that honestly the best play he could come up with? Sigh.
– The Wolves trail 42-46 at halftime. Speaking of which, we had possibly the most “intriguing” half-time entertainment we’ll see all season. It was some Guinness World Record Holder nicknamed “Rubber Band Boy.” He is apparently the world’s most flexible man. I believe it. He came out on the court in a little box. Like a 1 foot by 1 foot by 1 foot box. It was insane. He could do all kinds of stretchy things with his body and limbs that I thought to be otherwise impossible. I guess if someone broke all 206 bones in my body I could probably do those things as well. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the contortions he was doing with his body, but I just sat there in awe. It looked painful. I wouldn’t want to be his joints in 10 years.
– Adrian Peterson was at the game, sitting about 100 rows in front of us. (Ok it wasn’t that bad, but he did have nice courtside seats.) He got a nice standing ovation, which is cool because he’s a stud. We also saw Darren Sharper and Dwight Smith. At least we thought it was Dwight Smith. It could have been anyone really. That pretty much sums up the Vikes secondary as I’m not sure if they actually employ professional athletes other than Sharper and Antoine Winfield.
– Gerald Green played far and away his best game of the season, which wasn’t difficult due to his previously very limited minutes. Like I said in the season preview, he’s got an incredibly smooth stroke and was hitting his jumpers tonight. Granted, he still looks clueless and lost on defense… so perhaps that’s why he isn’t playing. He had a monstrous dunk which brought most of the crowd up to their feet. It was pretty sick. I can’t wait to watch him defend his crown at the slam dunk contest in February.
– Big Al was obviously the player of the game for the Wolves. Dropped 30 points on 12-20 shooting, along with 8 rebounds. However, he did have five turnovers. That is something that he knows he needs to work on, which is good. The Cavs were barely doubling Al, for whatever reason I’ll never know. I think I only counted once or twice in the first quarter where another guy doubled on Al in the post with the ball; otherwise they mostly let him do his thing. What a mistake. Their double teams on Al increased throughout the game, but the majority of the time he was single covered. The biggest travesty in this ordeal is that we couldn’t get him the ball more for shots in single coverage by the likes of Dwayne Jones. The same Dwayne Jones that we sent to Boston in the Ricky Davis/Blount for Wally trade as an afterthought. The same Dwayne Jones that sucked in the D-League. The same Dwayne Jones that was subsequently traded to Cleveland for Luke Jackson. The same Dwayne Jones that played 23 minutes tonight and inexplicably grabbed 10 boards. Please give Big Al the ball. No one can stop him. Please run the offense through him. Can I coach? Even if I was 1-8 at this point, at least it would cost Glen Taylor a lot less money. I would even hire cheap assistants too.
– Thumbs up to Jaric, who was energetic and played well.
– Thumbs up to Brewer for helping contribute and providing energy. He does little things that don’t show up in the boxscore. I know its cliché, but it’s true.
– Thumbs down to Craig Smith who just can’t seem to get things going this season. I’m not sure what his dysfunction is.
– Thumbs sideways to Gomes who didn’t play too well offensively, despite being (rightly) back in the starting lineup. His defense was solid as usual.
– Thumbs sideways to Buckner who didn’t score any points, but helped contribute during our run in the third and fourth quarters.
– Thumbs waaaaay down to Antoine Walker who can’t help himself but chuck up a ghastly amount of terrible shots. He somehow managed to make 3 three-pointers while going 5-14. I think his 19 point game was his trial period where he was “playing within the offense” and now he’ll be back to his chucking ways. That man never met a three-point shot he didn’t like. Hoo-rah. I guess if he does the shimmy just once this season and I see it live, this will all be worth it.
– Thumbs up to Madsen only because I would start him over Doleac.
– For some reason McCants was taken out with approximately 7:50 to go in the third quarter. Amazingly he never re-entered the game. We are not sure why. He’s not my favorite player (or second favorite, or third, or fifth… you get the point) but we definitely could have used his offense down the stretch? Perhaps he was pulled because he was shooting terrible (5-16 from the field) and taking ill-advised shots, I don’t know. He could have said something negative to the coach, but I highly doubt it. He was cheering and looked generally happy for the rest of the game while he was on the bench. Perhaps that since the combination Wittman put in was staging a comeback, he decided to stick with them. The said combination for almost the entire remaining 20 minutes of the game was Buckner, Brewer, Green, Jefferson, and Fatoine Walker. Admittedly, they played well together for the most part and had a chance to cut the 14 point lead all the way down to 2, but Corey Brewer missed two free-throws.
– Alas, despite cutting the 14 point lead to 4, we still lost thanks to Lebron’s 17 point fourth quarter outburst. He had a sick two handed breakaway jam thanks to a steal from an inbounds pass. It was almost as cool as the three “head-above-the-rim” dunks he had last season at the Target Center. Lebron put on an absolutely amazing performance. It was one of the most effortless 45 point performances I’ve seen. Also, it was one of the best live individual performances I’ve ever seen as well. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that he is probably the best overall player in the league. And he’s younger than me (only barely though, ha!) He finished with the third best “+/-“at +14. He was barely behind Daniel Gibson and Drew Gooden at +17 and +18, respectively. I could talk about other players on the Cavs, but really… what’s the point? Who cares about anyone other than Lebron. Especially when their other guys are so nondescript.
– The Cavs shot 46.6% and the Wolves 45.7% on field goals for the game. The field goal disparity reared its ugly head yet again, as the Cavs shot 23-33 (69.7%) to the Wolves meager 8-13 (61.5%) I think this will plague us all season and is obviously one of our “Achilles’ heels.” Both teams had 15 turnovers. Moral victory. Thanks largely to Lebron; the Cavs dominated us in fast break points at 15 to 2. I thought we were going to be a running team Wittman? Or, I thought we were going to be a half-court team? Perhaps a hybrid “half-breaking” team? Oh… you don’t know either. Ok.