The first quarter of Saturday
night’s game against the Knicks provided some of the most entertaining
basketball I’ve seen the Wolves play all season. It was an offensive
showcase, as the Pups dropped 42 on the Knicks in the opening period (by the way, our squad would win the game, 114-93).
Our guys shot a ridiculous
percentage from the field in that quarter, so give them credit for bursting out
of the gate. But let’s also acknowledge that the Knicks are a BRUTAL
Watching New York tonight, two
things became clear: Team chemistry is nonexistent for the Knicks, and they are
one of the laziest defensive teams I’ve seen in quite a while. Their
communication on the defensive end on Saturday was horrendous, frequently
allowing the Wolves to score easy baskets on back cuts and uncontested
jumpers. The Knicks’ transition defense is also utterly nonexistent, as
Randy Foye and Kirk Snyder had considerable success on the fast break.
On that note, let’s talk a little
bit about Kirk, who’s certainly been a pleasant surprise since arriving in
Minnesota. I was extremely impressed with his performance against the
Knicks; when Kirk rebounded a ball, he immediately looked to push the tempo and
catch the Knicks napping on the defensive end.
In only 23 minutes, Kirk posted 15
points and went 7-7 from the free throw line. He was an instrumental
component of the Wolves’ convincing victory, and deserves tremendous praise for
playing a high-energy game and drawing plenty of fouls.
Randy Foye also played an excellent
ballgame, finishing with nine points and nine assists. Like Snyder, he
created numerous opportunities for the Wolves in transition – he did finish the
game with three turnovers, but that proved irrelevant in this blowout.
While I was quite impressed with the
performances of those two guys, they weren’t the best players on the floor for
the Wolves on Saturday. Those honors belong to Rashad McCants and Ryan
This was one of those games where
I’d watch Rashad and ask myself, ‘Why can’t he play like this every night?’ He
was absolutely superhuman in the first quarter, shooting almost flawlessly from
the field. Granted, the Knicks frequently left him uncovered, but give
Rashad credit for being instrumental to the Wolves’ offensive explosion
tonight. He finished the game with 24 points, shooting 10-21 from the
However, the player who receives the
most props for the Wolves’ dominant win is College Wolf’s man crush, Ryan
Gomes. Bravo to Gomsey for shooting the mid-range jumper to
near-perfection…he shot 12-16 from inside the arc on Saturday, finishing with
26 points and an eyebrow-raising +/- rating of +27 for the evening.
I’ll admit it – when I heard College
Wolf touting Gomes after the Wolves acquired him from Boston, I wasn’t sure
what all the fuss was about. I became especially skeptical after Ryan
started the season in ugly fashion – he only averaged 9.7 PPG in November, and
10.2 PPG in December. But since the beginning of the new year, Gomes has
been simply terrific…and he’s having himself an excellent March, thus far.
You’ve gotta love someone like Gomes
who hits the mid-range jumper on a consistent basis, and always delivers a
solid effort. The three-point shot still leaves a lot to be desired, but
I don’t even see why he’d need to step behind the arc when his mid-range game
is so strong.
Chris Richard’s been getting
significant minutes on a more consistent basis lately, and that trend continued
Saturday when Witt gave the big fella 16 minutes of playing time. Two
thoughts: First, I wouldn’t want to get into a fight with this dude (Chris is a
TOUGH guy), and secondly, he’s looked damn impressive on the boards against the
Al’s performance? Well, it was
quite undistinguished – in 28 minutes, Al posted eight points, nine rebounds,
and six assists. There’s honestly not much more I can say about his
impact (or lack thereof) against the Knicks…I hardly noticed him while watching
the game, but thankfully, he picked an excellent night to have a bad
game. There were plenty of other guys who made up for Al’s off night –
and then some.
The Wolves did indeed defeat a
terrible Knicks team tonight, and that’s certainly not anything to write home
about – but nevertheless, Saturday’s game put a smile on my face. Not
only did the Wolves beat a team they should have beaten, but they prevented the
Knicks from launching a serious comeback in the second half.
Our squad went into the fourth
quarter with a 17-point lead, and instead of letting New York back into the
game, they controlled the final period and prevented the Knicks from making a
last gasp attempt at stealing a win. Also, the Knicks were never able to
slice their deficit to single digits in the second half – they showed brief
signs of life in the third quarter, but the Wolves maintained control of the
game for 90% of the second half.
And that’s something to feel good
about. In December, the Wolves would have lost their lead in the second
half, and may have ultimately lost the game. Not tonight, though…the
Knicks were thoroughly dominated, and the Wolves ended the night with a solid