Enjoy the season.
I have to remind myself of this from time to time as it's awfully hard to view this team in a non-cynical light because of the past few years, but the loss against the Cats with a short-handed lineup on the 2nd night of a back-to-back did show some promising signs for a young ball club.
First and foremost, Michael Beasley once again came up big when the team needed him most....at least he tried to play the part. Yes, he made some boneheaded plays, but tonight's game was a lesson that can be drawn upon going forward. He scored 28 points against legitimate perimeter defense and he did so in some high-leveraged situations. Granted, the team folded in the last 2 minutes of the tilt, and there were a few possessions where he hurt the team, but the Wolves are starting to show something of a pecking order in terms of offense and that is something that really hasn't been in this franchise's vocabulary in a long time, even with Al Jefferson on the court, as his damage was mostly limited to the low block.
In terms of what cost the Wolves the victory, aside from the last 2 minutes of the game, this thing was lost at the charity stripe, where Our Beloved Puppies were out-gunned 41.1 to 16.1 on the free throw rate. Throw in a loss on the offensive boards and even though they had a season-low in turnovers and an eFG over 50% with some very effective offense, they couldn't overcome the disparity at the stripe and on the boards.
Another area where this young team needs work is to learn how to close out on 3 point shooters. This has been a troubling theme all year long and the game in Charlotte was no exception.
This game wasn't an example of the cliched moral victory, but it was an example of the even more cliched growing pains tilt. Michael Beasley simply needs more opportunities in high-leverage situations to grow into his game. The bench needs more reinforcements that hopefully will be coming in the very near future. The coaching staff needs more time to figure out rotations. And the Wolves need to make sure that their technical foul shots are taken by the best free throw shooter on the court. Speaking of technical fouls, if the NBA is going to enforce its new tech rules, it needs to do so consistently no matter what the situation. They can't just sit on their whistles on a tech opportunity in the 4th that they would call in the 1st or 2nd quarters. Complaining to the ref is complaining to the ref and if that is supposed to be a technical foul, it has to be called consistently.
Well, that about does it for initial thoughts. What say you?