Tonight's game against the Lakers should serve as something as a litmus test for the few remaining fans of this ball club. On one hand, the team has the league's worst Offensive Efficiency, Defensive Efficiency, and eFG to go along with the fastest pace (which is a recipe for a historic disaster of a season, btw). On the other hand, they played competitive ball against the best team in the league while showing some energy, enthusiasm, and short spurts of competence.
Which way do you choose to look at the hourglass? Did the Lakers simply take the night off? Do you sit back and enjoy an entertaining game? Is it worth it to ponder about the success of a team that runs out a PG rotation of Sebastian Telfair and Maurice Ager? Did we really just see an Ager, Corey Brewer, Anthony Tolliver, Lazar Hayward, Kosta Koufos 5-man rotation at the start of the 4th quarter? Do you take the blue ones or the red ones?
I learned something about this club tonight. There is no way I can enjoy watching them if I look at the stat sheet. I cannot take both the red and blue pills at the same time and watch this squad.
At the end of the first half, the Wolves and Lakers posted the following numbers:
Pace (Poss) Eff eFG FT/FG OREB% TOr
Minnesota 96.0 108.3 50.0% 8.3 51.7 25.0
LA Lakers 120.8 54.3% 17.4 44.4 18.8
The Lakers came into the game with a 118.4/53.2/23.2/31.5/14.1 line for those stats. The Wolves came in with a 96.4/42.1/25/31/18.1 mark. Against the Lakers in the 1st half, the Wolves had an eFG of 50% while collecting over 51% of available misses. In other words, roughly 75% of any shots that went up in the 1st half on the Wolves' end of the court either went in or were rebounded by Our Beloved Puppies. They still found themselves down by 6 to a Lakers team that really wasn't doing anything special or out of the ordinary. They got a 1/2 where they dominated the glass, made 50% of their eFG shots, where Darko went 4-9, and where Bassy shot 2-3 from beyond the arc and they still were behind.
At this point, were I to take the blue pill, the outcome of the game is obvious: this team is performing far beyond its aggregate abilities and they will come crashing down to earth in the 2nd half. Despite what we'd like to think about the cheap shots that the national media may take against our favorite squad, writers like John Hollinger are right: this team is the worst team in the league and it is so because it is the worst shooting and least effective offensive squad with the most possessions.
However, if I were to have swallowed the red pill, I could have watched the 2nd half while rooting for some of the night's Indy/Paul Milsap magic to make its way to LA and for the Wolves to buck the odds and eek out a victory against one of the top teams in the league.
Which way do you go with this franchise? Do you pat them on the head and say "good job" for being competetive or do you complain about the ridiculous rotations and stupid plays that lead to them being the way they are (above and beyond basic questions of youth, inexperience, and a general lack of talent)? Do you have standards for quality or entertainment? Do you want moral victories vs. defeated morals.
As is always the case with this team, its front office/ownership has created a situation where its fans cheer for table scraps. "Yes, but..." seems to be the MO for any realistic take on anything about the team. Do you really want to root for moral victories after watching 5 straight double-digit loses including the worst 3-game stretch in team history? Well, that one gets a "sort of, but..."
Last night's game ended with the following line:
Pace (Poss) Eff eFG FT/FG OREB% TOr
Minnesota 97.2 (97) 96.9 43.3% 17.8 48.1 25.8
LA Lakers 102.1 48.9% 13.5 33.3 18.6
Was the blue pill kicking in or was the red one wearing off? Will Jonny Flynn and Martell Webster help straighten things out or will the addition of 09's worst starting point guard and a guy who produces on the same level as Ryan Gomes simply result in a net productivity wash? Do we need to set up Canis Hoopus sites in alternate universes where red pill fans can avoid all contact with blue pill hoops addicts? Can the two coexist in the same reality without creating a black hole of cynicism?
Random game thoughts:
- Kosta Koufos took the worst shot of the year with about 7 seconds left to go in the 3rd and more than that remaining on the 24 second clock. 20 foot jumpers from 7 footers are not what you want in that situation.
- Mo Ager canned a a3/4 court shot with time expiring in the 3rd. The Magic Mo Ager Era ended 1 minute and 18 seconds later when he clanged a 5 foot shot off the front of the rim.
- The NBA's new technical complaining rules do not apply to a certain player. We'll call him K. Bryant. Nope, that's too obvious: Kobe B.
- The Lakers are believers in the blue pill approach. They refused to close out on Bassy all night long and eventually 2-3 from beyond-the-arc turned into 3-7.
- Wes Johnson played some decent defense on Kobe. He also ran baseline to baseline on offense for most of the night allowing Kobe the night off on that end of the court. The guy definitely shows some flashes but it's a long way to go on offense.
- It really is amazing that after drafting Ricky Rubio, Jonny Flynn, Ty Lawson, and Nick Calathes (yes, I know about the trades), and after signing Ramon Sessions and Luke Ridnour, that the Wolves ran out a Bassy/Ager PG rotation against the Lakers. This is more of an observation than a judgment. The Wolves will try out two no-name point guards tomorrow before the game with SacTown. I think their names are Seizmore Jabaflaz and Rockafort Turbofruit. Oh, Zell Miller too. Again, this is a blue/red pill moment. Are they more snake bit than incompetent, or is it the other way around?
- Comment of the night, courtesy of TimAllen: "There are two kinds of open: regular open and Sebastian Telfair open.