OK, credit is due where credit is due, and I can't think of any better way to start this post than to give the Line of the Year (So Far) to LoveTo for his catchy turn of a phrase for when Wayne Ellington gets hot from beyond the arc. It's a long year and it will be a hard-fought contest, but LoveTo is in the early lead.
Getting around to the game, the Wolves finally put together 48 minutes of exciting ball. I can live with losing. I can live with being outmanned. What I can't live with is a sports entertainment franchise being boring. For far too long the Wolves have been both bad and unentertaining. Last night the Wolves scrapped, ran, moved the ball around, played scrappy defense, and out-efforted the Pistons by a wide, wide, wide margin, especially in the second half.
The Wolves had six players in double figures, two more with seven ponits apiece, 22 assists (well above their 16.3 average in the preseason), 46 FTAs, and only 9 turnovers. With their two best players out of action, the Wolves turned in an all-around team effort built on grit and hustle. The result isn't something you'd really want to bet on, but the effort was more than enough to make you want to watch...and that's about the best we can ask for with this young team.
A few random observations:
Ben Gordon is an $11 million bench player who duplicates what Rip Hamilton brings to the table...sans 4 or 5 inches.
- Before the start of the Pistons game, 31.3% of the Wolves' preseason points have come from the charity stripe. That's a lot of free throws. Over 40/game to be exact. I could learn to live with that.
- "Pinch Post" and "weak side action" are words casual Wolves fans will have to get used to with this new offense. For those of you who are unfamiliar with these terms, here is a link to a Pinch Post description and here's a video:
In other words, keep your eyes on the side of the court with two players. Also, get ready to fully understand why the Wolves will need a versatile swing man.
- Speaking of swingmen and weak side action, the most important possession of last night's game started with just under 11 minutes left in the 4th quarter:
- That was the ballgame right there. 4 fouls in under 20 seconds and the Wolves were in the bonus with less than 2 minutes gone in the 4th quarter.
- Hanny will always be a homer and he'll be easier to stomach when the Wolves finally turn the corner, but I have a feeling that J-Pete is in for a solid year of color commentating (is that even a word). I'm really looking forward to hearing how his coaching stint with the Lynx is going to affect his coverage. I want to hear about offensive sets, off the ball decision making, advanced stats, and other pro nuances and I think Jim is going to deliver. He's off to a solid start this season. Best of all, Jim is a big internet follower and I think he has a firm grasp on the role of blogs in team coverage and fan conversation. The guy knows ball and I think he's going to work his way into a solid groove where he will enable casual fans to have a much deeper understanding of the pro game.
- Speaking of offenses and nuances, I was watching the Wolves' version of the Triangle and all I could think about was that one of the big things the Triangle offense is not known for is upper-level point guard play. I'm not saying that I'm not glad that Ramon Sessions, Jonny Flynn, and the rights to Ricky Rubio belong at 600 First Avenue, but does it qualify as an irony that the Triangle's "weakest" position is the one the Wolves sunk the most resources into? BTW: As a long time Bassy fan, let me put in my vote for Sebastian Telfair as the league's Most Improved Player. He was my favorite T-Wolf and I never did get my Bassy jersey. At least my daughter got an autograph.
- Ramon Sessions needs more minutes. Dude can ball and he is a deceptively good defender. He hides in traffic and bursts out of nowhere into passing lanes. I have a bad feeling that Mr. Sessions will be involved in a mid-season trade.
- Ryan Hollins is an athletic foul machine. He also jumped 7 feet in college. Holy. Crap.
- Mr. Ellington, you are here to shoot the long ball. Good game.
Corey Brewer is showing some signs of being a...wait for it...NBA starter. For the first time in a long time, I watched a Wolves game where it was obvious that Brewer had confidence with his game and his shot. He was disruptive, all over the place, and he even had a few nice moves to the rim, one of which almost looked like George Gervin, with a sweet finger roll at the end. Brewer is my de-facto favorite Wolf now that Bassy is gone and I'm really rooting for the guy.
Well, that about does it for the wrap up. What say you?
BTW: How cool was it to see this: