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Timberwolves Game Recap #8: The red-eye, terrible defense, and a nickname challenge

Monday, December 1st, 2008

caveman.jpgAs promised and/or predicted, here is Brandon with the follow-up to Roughkat’s Game 8 post. Actually, both of those fine gentlemen appear in this post. It’s cute how they just pass the laptop back and forth. Neat! OK, guys:

Suddenly, the Thrill is Gone

Brandon: I knew this couldn’t last. After three spirited, long-winded write-ups to kick off the T-Wolves season, I’ve already realized there are only so many ways for my mushy brain to state the obvious: this is a bad basketball team.

Saturday’s game against the streaking Denver Nuggets posed an even bigger challenge – not only were the Wolves predictably, boringly beaten by a superior squad, but my date and I were in a zombie-like state due to our recent return from The Vegas via red-eye. We stared at the court while wordlessly sharing a bag of peanuts and diet soda while secretly wishing that instead of watching Chauncey Billups run the floor with ease, instead of scratching our heads at the Wittman substitutions, we were at home, fast asleep. It was one of those nights.

Obviously, I don’t have much to say. So, I’ll take this time to discuss with Roughkat, who was also at the game.

B: What would you like to tell the millions of RandBall readers about Saturday’s Timberwolves game?

RK: It was exciting to see Kevin Love get so much playing time. I’m not expecting him to be an All-star but I would take an 18 and 12 game from him every night. I’m still 100% behind trading Mayo to get him. Speaking of that trade, how would you grade Mike Miller’s performance and also his Geico caveman photo that was shown 53 times during the game?

B: It’s just too bad Caveman Miller had such a terrible game during his own special night. He must’ve gotten flustered seeing the tens of people sitting in the stands. Agreed about Love, though I don’t see him as much more than a role player his whole career. His downfall is both simple and damning: he can’t jump. Sadly, as a 6’8” forward, that is kind of a big deal.

Who can I blame for pretty much every point guard having career games against us? Foye? Telfair? Wittman? Please say Wittman.

RK: I blame Wittless for pretty much everything. I opened up my maths calculator and found there are 792 possible lineup combinations using the 12 man roster. I can only assume that Coach is trying to fill out his bingo card with all of them.

That being said, if you check out 82 Games, which does all the math for you, you’ll see that Ollie is statistically the best at defending opponents PGs. Foye and Telfair are both terrible at guarding the PG. Foye’s PER is also 16.0 when playing SG and 10.6 when he’s running the show. They have stats for these things. I’m not sure Wittless knows that or else you’d think he might use them. Which once again proves your theory that he’s to blame. So there you go.

I checked the gamelogs and it was, indeed, the Birdman playing for the Nuggets. I think the Wolves’ real problem is that the players don’t have enough nicknames. We should make some up.

B: Agreed. Caveman and Wittless are good starts, as is Craig Smith as The Rhino. Let’s make it our mission throughout this sure-to-be-bland season to devise some great nicknames. We also need to direct our collective creative juice towards devising some decent in-game entertainment. Because the stuff they’ve got going right now, the strange jumbotron races, the “hold up your US Bank card” giveaways and the likes are not cutting it.

But like I mentioned, my brain is mush right now. This’ll have to wait.

Wolves Season Tickets Game 3: Brandon

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

nosebleed.jpgOur ongoing 41-part series continues with Brandon’s first Wolves game as part of our season ticket triumvirate. As you’ll notice, things didn’t quite go according to plan. Brandon is a longtime commenter and is the proprietor of World of B, a site dedicated to unicorns. Brandon?

Being a proud first-time season ticket holder, it didn’t take long for the reality of the Timberwolves’ low-end status to slap me across the face. Wondering if the Wolves had arrived on the scene, possibly turned a corner, rekindled a spark of excitement from the general populace? That’d be a no, as far as I’m concerned.

It started when my game one Guest of Honor canceled on me a few hours before tip-off. It was time to scramble for a new attendee willing to join me in the upper desk to scout the local roundball squad. Shouldn’t be a problem, right?

Friend one considered joining me, until he remembered he’d scheduled a haircut. Friend two was still sick from the previous night’s celebration and placed himself on the PUP list. Friend three didn’t even bother returning my call. A scroll through my cell phone contacts unearthed lost cause after lost cause; the few of my friends who passed the first test by liking basketball were soon disqualified due to an undeniable possession of a “life.”

With no accompaniment to the game, my disappointing fate was clear: eat the tickets, skip the game and watch from the couch. I am a season ticket-holder. I did not attend my first game. Awesome. Still, I had a duty to recap the goings-on, so I parked myself on the davenport and got to analyzing. Here is what transpired.

A back-and-forth contest ended up going to San Antone, 129-125 in double overtime. An ugly first half from both teams — missed shot after missed shot — gave way to an action-packed fourth quarter and overtimes, each team trading buckets and going on mini-runs until the dust cleared. Tony Parker turned in 55 points, Tim Duncan led the game with 18 uncalled molestations (right at his season average), and Jefferson led the T-Pups with 30.

Notes:

- This was a winnable game. The Spurs are beatable, currently featuring a roster of Duncan, Parker and what appears to be rented players from a local JV high school squad. Nice defense on Parker, by the way, who scored the easiest 55 points in NBA history (it’s true; I looked it up), which was so fun to watch I broke out into an anger-sweat and flung a pillow across my living room.

- I’m driving the Fire Randy Wittman bus and will accept all interested travelers. The Witt couldn’t figure out how to defend a team that played most of the game with three inept offensive players on the court. The T-Wolves ran around on the defensive end acting as if they’d never seen a pick-&-roll before. ‘Twas ugly.

- Why is Mike Miller driving and trying to create his own shot? I love the guy, but he may have to be put on a three-dribble quota, like in Team Handball. Anything more, and it’s a dollar fine.

- Guys, I’ve been working on an impression. Tell me what you think. Here’s me being Randy Foye. [Brandon dribbles a basketball across half-court, passes to nearest teammate on the perimeter, stands in place until possession is over.] Gawd, what a breathtaking playmaker.

- The starting five — Jefferson, Brewer, Gomes, Miller and Foye — are painful to watch together. On offense, it’s four guys standing around trying to get the ball to Jefferson, occasionally spelled by Mike Miller and Corey Brewer taking turns playing the crowd-favorite “Hey guys, watch me drive the lane!” game that always ends in a gorgeous off-balanced brick.

- Here’s your best lineup, as far as I’m concerned: Bassy, Miller, Love, Jefferson and I-don’t-care-who (here is where we all sigh deeply for having no options at center). Those four bring quality play to the table; with them, I see shades of hope. Jefferson does what he does, Love is a joy to watch, Bassy is lightning-quick and Miller can catch fire at any time. They’re legitimately exciting.

Perhaps I’ll even get to see them in person sometime.

Timberwolves Home Game 2 review

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Terrific seats to a sporting event can cause someone to exclaim, if only figuratively, that they could “reach out and touch the athletes.” In stark contrast, our season tickets to the Timberwolves games (shared with Brandon and Roughkat) could be described as “literally allowing us to reach out and touch the back of the wall in the upper deck.” Yes, we are in the last row, X, in section 203, which is almost directly behind the hoop the Wolves shoot at in the first half. That is not a complaint — actually, we are able to follow the action quite well from that vantage point; rather, we just want to set the scene. For our first game of the season (and the Wolves’ second home game), we treated the RBBH to her first-ever NBA game and saw the Wolves take on the Dallas Mavericks. We parked for free at a meter, paid $6 total for our tickets and bought one item at the concession stand, an icy cold cola, for $3.75. Thus a “family of two” was able to attend a pro sporting event for less than $10. The question: did we receive $10 worth of entertainment? Absolutely, though the night could have been better. Here are some thoughts from a 95-85 loss:

1) Kevin Love didn’t get into the game until the second quarter. Even as he ran in place during every timeout in the first quarter, practically yelling at Randy Wittman to put him in, Love remained firmly planted on the bench next to the likes of Brian Cardinal and Calvin Booth. Just listen to the song that played over the PA system during the game: All You Need is Love!

2) Randy Foye could do absolutely nothing against Jason Kidd, once a premier point guard and now one of the worst defensive players in the league.

3) Al Jefferson looked lost, confused and scared. Also, we barely saw the vaunted double post threat of Big Al and the Love-man together. High-post, low-post! Let’s go!

4) No unicycle bowl-kicking.

5) Whenever we yelled about any of problems 1-3, or complained about a general lack of cohesiveness, the RBBH mocked us by muttering in a fake voice, “Um, we spent $3 on these tickets and we expect some quality!”

6) The crowd could best be described as “sparse” or “nearly-comatose.”