Musings of a Wolves Fan… (2/08/08)

T-Wolves -vs- Boston Celtics (2.08.08)

















If we could only win ONE game this entire NBA season, tonight’s game was the game I would have wanted us to win.  It was a wild and entertaining ending to a very memorable night.  Alas, as we all know, the ending was a heartbreaker.  Leon Powe scored the put back bucket as time expired, to give the Celtics the 88-86 victory over our young TimberCeltics.  We probably should have lost regardless, as Ray Allen was hacked pretty badly on his final shot with time winding down.  Fortunately for Celtics faithful, Powe was in position to grab the rebound and quickly layed it back in for the win.  If Powe wouldn’t have made the basket, I would agree with anyone stating that Jesus Shuttlesworth deserved to shoot free throws for getting hacked on his shot.  With that said, I still think the Wolves deserved to win the game, based on how the two teams competed for the majority of the game.  The Celtics came out flat and appeared to be coasting through much of the game.  The Wolves were hustling and playing very hard, as you could tell they desperately wanted this win.  Either way, we lost another thriller to the Boston Celtics this season.  That’s probably why they have the best record in the NBA, and we have 10 wins. 

KG’s return stirred some mixed emotions.  First off, it was pretty cool to see him again.  I thought maybe we’d all clap and cheer and that would be it.  However, as soon as he walked out onto the court I got goosebumps.  I couldn’t hear a single person booing him, nor did I see anyone *not* cheering for KG, as some had hypothesized might happen.  I had wondered if KG would just come out for this introduction because he was obligated, or because he truly did care about the fans here in ‘Sota?  Would he stare at the ground and wait for the cheering to be over, or would he acknowledge the fans?  After seeing a replay at home, it appeared like some tears were welling up in KG’s eyes.  It was an incredible moment.  KG looked genuinely happy to see everyone while waving and looking around.  KG displayed emotion… but in a touching way.   It’s been a while since we fans have seen that here in Minnesota.  Even though he was not able to play in the game as most fans had desired, it was still decent closure to the KG era.  I think it will help a lot of fans to move on and eventually get behind the new youngsters on our squad. 

A few things that I didn’t like about how they did KG’s appearance/tribute:  1) They did it too early in the introductions.  Due to the unnatural conditions of the walkways and entrances in Target Center (aka an actual sellout), people were still trying to file in when KG walked out onto the court.  There were quite a few empty seats, because many people had not been able to get to their seats in time.  That was a shame, and I wish they could have waited a little longer.  However, I do understand that it’s not easy (or usually allowed) to switch around the player introductions and a game start time. 2)  Couldn’t they have allowed the fans to clap and cheer for more than one measly minute?  I mean, come on.  Seriously?  We could have cheered for him longer if they wouldn’t have ushered him off the court.  Then again, I guess this goes back to actually starting the game on time.  Would anyone really have cared if the game started five minutes later?  Perhaps the TV people might have cared I guess.  Regardless, it was a good appearance, but it just seemed sort of rushed.  Also, they didn’t really announce it too well, as KG just suddenly appeared walking out of the tunnel before anyone really knew what was happening.  I guess I’m nit-picking though.  It was certainly much better than him not making the trip at all.  Last thing about KG, there were infinitely more Boston KG jerseys than Minnesota KG jerseys.  I just thought that was pretty interesting.


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–  I no longer track the “Wins vs Different Starting Lineups” ‘O Meter.  It was fun while it lasted, but I left off at 18 different starting lineups, and we currently have only 10 wins.  Does anyone know how many different starting lineups we are up to now?  Where I can check these things?  I need an intern.

–  I certainly enjoy Brian “White Chocolate” Scalabrine’s pre-game warm-ups and theatrics.  He  is absolutely a godawful player might not be the best player in the League, but at least he’s unintentionally entertaining.  Brian the Bear gave James Posey quite the manly embrace before tip-off.  It made me giggle.  I also felt very warm and fuzzy inside.  If all the C’s players feel as good about getting hugged by Scal as I did, then he’s definitely worth the $3 Million per season… and then some. In all seriousness, his arms looked slightly more buff and defined than they did last season.  Granted, that’s not saying much… but he must be working out.

–  Ryan Gomes and Craig Smith:  Gomes didn’t have a spectacular or really very memorable night, but the great thing is that when he’s off his game, he doesn’t hurt the squad.  He’s a player that does the little things well, and nothing terribly bad.  If Gomes not being a highlight reel means he won’t lose games for us, then I’ll most definitely take it.  He only played 25 minutes tonight, due to both Wittman’s incompetence and the fact that Craig Smith was actually playing pretty well.  In those 25 minutes, Gomes was 100% (5-5) from the free throw line and 50% (4-8) from the field, for 13 points and 6 rebounds.  I guess it makes sense to play Smith or Gomes depending on how the other team matches up, and when Craig Smith stays out of foul trouble he can be a pretty productive player.  The problem is thaft Smith commits way too many fouls, or at least he is whistled for way too many fouls.  It seems like Smith, more than anyone else on our team, routinely has the most “bad” calls levied against him.  Well tonight he only committed 1 foul in 33 minutes, en route to 16 points and 7 boards.  He was playing well down low, with some nice takes to the hoop and timely rebounds.  In a TWolves centric utopia, we’d be able to keep both of these players, but the harsh reality is that most likely one will be gone this summer.  I like Gomes.  I hope we sign him, even if he’ll end up costing more than Smith.  Gomes is more versatile, has more size and a larger “NBA IQ”, for what that’s worth.

The Wolves were leading 18-16 after the first quarter.  It was a pretty sloppy game, with points being relatively hard to come by.  The Wolves were only shooting 33% from the floor (compared to 38% for the C’s), and the Wolves had 5 turnovers to Boston’s 4.  Not a terrible start for the hometown heroes, and if the Celtics allowed the Wolves to gain confidence and keep the game close, we could possibly have a chance to steal this one.

–  Antoine Walker is possibly the oldest 31 year old I’ve ever seen.  He can’t run, jump, defend, or really even shoot anymore.  He pretty much made a fool of himself out there tonight.  Employee #8 is a shell of his NBA Live ’99 Cover gracing former self .  I mean, can we carbon date him?  Is he really only 31 years old?  He looks like he’s at least 90 out there on the court.  That shot that was blocked by the bottom of the rim was a real beauty. 

–  Brian Scalabrine:  Someone please tell me why the Veal starts?  I don’t understand it.  I mean, Doc, you’ve got Powe and Big Baby, either of which is an infinitely better option than starting the Scalimonster.  I guess he brings… umm, “intangibles” to the court?  Or something.  I’ll never know.  Can’t he just hug the other guys on the team before the game and then take his rightful spot at the end of the bench like a Tru Warrior?  If I were coaching the Celtics squad, I wouldn’t do anything other than tell KG to lead them to victory; and never, ever play Brian Scalabrine.  Ok, I lied.  I’d maybe consider playing him if 7 other guys were injured and/or the Celtics were winning or losing by 40+ points.

Seriously though, he played the first 8 minutes and 45 seconds of the first quarter, and the first 10 minutes of the second half (which is 18:47 too much.)  He was 0 for 3 from the field with a turnover and two fouls.  In terms of fairness, he did have 3 rebounds and a steal… in almost 19 minutes.  Was his defense good?  I don’t know, I can’t really analyze it too well when I get caught up staring at the Red Headed Phoenix running around the court aimlessly.  As far as I’m concerned, if Powe and Big Baby have less than 6 fouls apiece, they should be playing before Scal.

The second quarter was interesting for a variety of reasons.  First, we started with possibly the smallest front court in the recorded history of NBA Basketball, with Craig Smith and The Toine (I think I will just call Antoine Walker “The Toine” from now on), manning the Center and Power Forward positions. Which player was playing which position?  Hell if I know. Did it really even matter?  Regardless of this apparent roster… ummm… development, the Wolves were able to outscore Boston 27 to 24 in the 2nd.  We also only had 2 turnovers to their 7.  Corey Brewer and Rashad were particularly effective during this period, doing the bulk of their damage.  Brewer went off for 9 points, 4 boards, and 2 steals; while McCants had 8 points on 4 of 7 shooting with 3 steals. 

Our break dancing team (you heard me right), the “First Avenue Breakers” performed at some point during this quarter.  I will admit that it was by far their best performance of the year.  You can tell they’ve been practicing while the team is away on road trips.  It was a pretty money performance fo sho.  I feel the need to speak like that after witnessing such a “baller” spectacle.  Also, our PR/Free Stuff/Pump Up the Crowd team (led by Wally Szczerbiack’s doppelganger “Mike”) ran out and threw the crappy free t-shirts into the stands.  Typically this is reserved for pumping up the crowd during the fourth quarter, not the second.  I was perplexed by this development.  It was tough to tell who got the louder cheers, KG or the guys throwing the free t-shirts.  The crowd could only get quieter from here on out.

Before the real half-time show commences, a person gets a chance to make a free throw for $1,000 worth of “Deal or No Deal” lottery tickets.  If they miss, they still get $100, which is ridiculous.  Why reward such futility?  It’s like giving Brian Scalabrine a $15 Million dollar 5 year contract.  Wait a second…  Anyhow, tonight’s contestant banked in the shot for the $1,000 worth of tickets.  Mark Madsen and Scals both applauded approvingly.

I don’t know what the actual halftime show was because I was hanging out and chatting with SG, Myles Brown from Slam online, and Stephen Litel outside.  I really hope I didn’t miss the five year old girls’ gymnastics team tonight.
–  The Other Big Two:  I don’t have a whole lot to say about PP34 and/or Ray Allen Shuttlesworth.  For the most part, they were pretty quiet.  Sure, they combined for 35 points, 10 assists, and 7 rebounds… but that’s below their season average.  They did shoot a horrendous combined 11 for 32 from the field, which is worth noting.  Let me say again, Ray Allen definitely *did* get fouled on that shot at the end of the game.  Not that it means anything coming from me, but I noticed it.  I should probably mention that they were a combined 10 of 10 from the charity stripe.  It also helps to have leaders that can knock down free throws.

–  I think it was in the third quarter when Kendrick Perkins got injured.  Some sort of injury to his shoulder, which is not good for Celtics fans… especially since I believe he’s had problems with that shoulder in the past. He logged 25 minutes and his offense was non-existent at that point, but he was playing great defense on Big Al and had 4 blocks, 3 against Old Skool. 

–  “Hoopman” was back in action.  One of the 26 members of our Front Office “Braintrust”, Fred Hoiberg, missed a Hoopman shot from less than ten feet away, after a wayward shot ended up in his lap while he was watching the game.  The irony of Freddy missing that was pretty funny.  I guess it’s good to see Hoopman back in action, after a short layoff.  His theatrics make me smile.  No one does it better.  Everyone cheered the 4 year old kid that inevitably missed the 25 foot Hoopman toss, of course.  C’mon Hoopman, there’s no way a 4 year old kid is tossing that ball 25 feet into a 1 foot diameter plastic rim. 

–  Rajon “Gorilla Arms” Rondo was solid, as usual.  I have been a big fan of his since you guys drafted him.  I got ridiculed for drafting him in Fantasy Basketball last year and declaring him “Co-Steal of the Draft” along with Ryan Gomes.  Haha, serves me right… but it is good to see him playing splendidly this season. 12 points (on 50% shooting), 7 boards, 3 assists, and some masterful work with the basketball all included for the price of admission.  He’s gonna be a top Point Guard in the East before his career is over.

–  Leon Powe and Eddie House were excellent off the bench.  I believe these two guys were the reason(s) the Celtics won.  House was a microwave, dropping points in bunches in limited minutes.  He finished with 14 points in 16 minutes.  Powe was a beast, going for 16 points and 8 boards in Perkin’s absence.  As to why he doesn’t play over Scalasucko is beyond me.

–  Glen “Big Baby” Davis:  He only got to play 7 minutes.  He didn’t do much, but he didn’t do anything bad either.  Is he not a better option than Scal?  Is the sky not blue?

The beginning of the end started in the third quarter.  The Wolves got outscored 22 to 21, but had 4 turnovers to the Celtics 1.  After shooting 50% from the field in the second quarter, we shot 38% from the field in the third.  At one point we had an 11 point lead, en route to eventually losing.

–   Marko Jaric:  The Serbian Sensation was quiet for the most part.  He only had 7 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds in 33 minutes… but he had one hell of a behind the back pass to Gomes for a dunk.  Good game?  No.  Good play?  No, it was a great play.  Where am I going with this?  I have no idea.

–  Sebastian Telfair, Randy Foye, and Rashad McCants:  I’ve been at this for over two hours and honestly don’t have the energy to discuss these three players right now.  Considering I could literally type pages about the pros and cons of each individual player, I’d be up all night.  If you visit our forums, you’ll know that I pretty much hate Rashad McCants and everything he “brings” to this team.  I have little to no faith that Foye will ever become a “starting quality” NBA Point Guard. Telfair… well, I’ve got nothing against him.  In fact, he’s exceeded all my expectations this season.  Here are two mental notes I took in regards to these guys during the game:

–  Foye:  Oops, he did it again.  3 for 12 from the field this time.  He still can’t shoot OR keep his man in front of him.  A backcourt of him and McCants de-evolves the fundamentals of basketball.  There’s more dribbling than a… well… I’ve got a joke here, but it’s definitely not appropriate.

–  At one point in the second quarter, Telfair drove the lane and dished it to a cutting Al for a dunk.  I  Hope Foye can “remember that play” like he stated while earlier this season while he was injured.  Weird, because I haven’t seen Foye make a play like that yet.  I thoroughly enjoy the way Telfair “probes” the defense out on the court, always keeping his dribble and moving around looking for an opening to exploit.  He’s showing glimpses of the potential that made him the first High School-to-NBA point guard.  Unfortunately, Telfair still has problems finishing lay-ups and pretty much any other shot.  He had 2 points on a putrid 1 for 8 shooting display.  However, the 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and blocked shot (!?!?!) certainly helps his case.

–  Corey Brewer:  He was solid tonight, other than his 3 for 10 performance from the field.  He was by far our most active and energetic player out there.  He never stops hustling, and was running all over covering the court.  While only credited with 3 steals, it seems like Turbo had 10.  He finished with 11 points, 5 boards, 3 steals, a block, and solid defense against Paul Pierce in his 30 minutes tonight.

–  Big Al was his masterful self in the fourth quarter.  He was pretty quiet most of the game, mostly because Kendrick Perkins has done a splendid job guarding him so far this season.  Perkins knows Big Al’s moves, as they were (and still are as far as I know) best buddies.  They practiced against each other every day, and it’s obvious out there when matched up against each other.  Jefferson only had 18 points and 9 boards on 9 of 17 shooting (along with 6 turnovers ugh!), but he had 10 of those points in the fourth, and 8 points in a row towards the end of the game.  He displays a dizzying array of low post moves, which is a sight to behold.  I haven’t seen low post moves like his in the NBA in a very long time.  It is truly a lost art.  He’s also been developing his mid range jumper, and can hit the 15 footer pretty consistently.  I just hope he doesn’t bring himself out of the post as his career progresses.  It’s pretty obvious that he makes his living down there.  Lastly, Al has been showing more and more emotion every game.  I love it.  I didn’t know if he would be the emotional “leader type” at the beginning of the season, but it’s obvious that he is displaying the heart, determination, and character that will one day make him a star in this league.  Our future may not be as dark as we thought.

Well, we got outscored 26 to 20 in the fourth quarter, en route to the painful loss.  We had 4 turnovers to the Celtics 3, and the Wolves went 45% from the field, compared to 53% for the Celtics.  I’m not mathematician, but those numbers equal losing a close game to me.

–  When I got home from the game, I re-watched the fourth quarter thanks to the power of DVR.  I am not exactly sure as to WHY I watched the game, because all it did was make me incredibly sad and delay my bedtime since I still had to type up what you are currently reading.  Anyhow, it did help me to remember as to why I simply cannot stand our mind-numbingly retarded Television broadcaster Jim Peterson.  I don’t know about you guys out there, but I can’t stand him.  He’s horrid.  His comments and insight is usually pretty far off the mark.  He thinks our entire team is awesome.  He thinks the KG Trade was a steal for us.  He downplays stars on other teams.  He’s basically a buffoon. 

Among other things, what stuck out the worst while re-watching the fourth quarter was of course, a few comments by Jim Pete.  With about 4 and a half minutes left in the fourth, Craig Smith gets an offensive rebound and passes it back out to Foye.  Marko is wide open on the other side of the arc with his hands up, yet Foye dribbles the ball while standing there, rather than making a simple pass to the completely uncovered Jaric.  After dribbling away half the shot clock, he attempts to drive and is thwarted.  He passes it to a covered Al, who immediately kicks it back out to Foye and attempts to establish position on the block.  Foye, meanwhile, dribbles around to no avail, before finally passing it to a cutting Marko.  Marko then dumps it down low to Al with about 5 seconds left on the shot clock.  After a series of moves, Al flips up some sort of a half hook shot, the ball takes a few lucky bounces and finally settles through the net.  Jim Peterson’s response?  “That’s some good patience on offense right there for Minnesota.”  Um no.  It was a Rashad Revolution-esque display of standing around and killing any hope of offensive flow by Randy Foye.  He got lucky that Al was able to make a nifty move down low, before making the hoop due to a few friendly bounces.  If anything, it was incompetence more than it was “patient offense.”   As only Jim Pete can do, he then began trying to tell the viewers what Foye was thinking, saying “Foye said no Marko, we gotta have patience and dump it down low to the Big Fella.”  Well guess what Jim Pete, Foye didn’t even pass it to Al down low!  The first time he did, he wasn’t on the block and was soundly covered.  After possessing the ball twice, he finally passed it to Marko who passed it to Big Al.  The entire 10 seconds after the hoop was a Foye love fest about how well he executed the offense on that possession, which was completely and utterly wrong.  

And then, a few minutes later… after a series of hustle plays by Corey Brewer, Jim Pete states “Now you know why Ryan Gomes is on the bench!”  Really, is that why arguably our second best player is on the bench?  I paused the DVR and looked at our lineup.  Foye, Marko, Brewer, Smith, and Big Al.  It seems to me that perhaps Brewer AND Gomes could have been on the court at the same time!  Gasp!  Shocking I know, but did it not occur to Jim that maybe, just maybe, Wittman could sub in Gomes for Craig Smith?  (Especially with Perkins out due to injury, Boston didn’t have much size anyways.)   Foye, Marko, Brewer, Gomes, and Big Al was our starting lineup if I remember correctly… oh wait, I do.  Seems to me that Brewer and Gomes don’t really fight for minutes, especially since Wittman’s been playing Gomes primarily at the 4, and Brewer primarily at the 2 or 3 (when he actually gets to play that is.)   I don’t think Brewer’s hustling alone was the reason Gomes was on the bench.  Good try though Jim.

Lastly, I like lists.  Here’s where Jim Peterson ranks in my NBA Knowledge Hierarchy Chart:

1) God
2) Britt Robson
3) Bill Simmons
4) Jeff Van Gundy
5) Charles Barkley
6) Bonk’s Grandma
7) My dog
8) A one celled amoeba
9) My unborn child
10) Jim Peterson

A few vital stats before we end this:

–  Wolves lost the turnover battle 16 to 15, although neither team played great in that regard.

–  We dominated the C’s in the paint (when will they get a legitimate backup Center?  Or, I guess they could just play Powe and/or Big Baby over Scal) , at the tune of 50 points to 34, yet lost the fast break battle 7 points to 12.

–  We shot nearly 42% from the field, compared to almost 46% for the C’s.  However, the three point shoot percentage for the Wolves was a dismal 17.6% (3 for 17.)  The Celtics on the other hand, shot 6 for 16 (37.5%)   Amazingly, we only got “out free-throw attempted” by 2, with the Celtics going 14-17 (82.4%) compared to 13-15 (86.7%) for the Wolves.

–  For the most part, I think using “plus/minus” from individual games is pointless.  There are just far too many variables involved.  So, I always take the ratings from any one game with a grain of salt.  With that said, the winners and losers:  Boston – Ray Allen at +5 and Kendrick Perkins at -3.  Minnesota – Craig Smith at +7 and Antoine Walker at -8. 

For the record, Brian Scalabrine is a much bigger loser than his -1 indicates.

Props to the Celtics and their fans, you guys won a tough and exciting game.  Best of luck the rest of this season to you all, and your team.






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