New look Wizards beat old look Wolves (a tribute to El Janitor)

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There it is folks.  And so goes yet another chapter in Wolves history.  I thought it passed with Mark Madsen but today's trade with the Knicks marks the true end to the...well, read for yourself:

Madsen, while being a fine citizen, was involved in one of the darkest moments of recent NBA history: He was the key actor in the greatest example of tanking in league history.  In the last game of the 05/06 season, Madsen jacked up 7 three pointers, missing them all.  The game was remarkable on two fronts.  First, the Wolves were in the midst of a grand tank-a-thon, sitting out KG for multiple games and fielding a starting lineup of Eddie Griffin (RIP), Justin Reed, Rashad McCants, Marcus Banks and Marc Blount against the Griz in a last-ditch attempt to keep the top-10 protected pick owed to the Clippers in the Marko Jaric trade.  Second, the Griz were trying to lose a game in an attempt to avoid playing the 60-22 Dallas Mavs in the first round of the playoffs.  In an overtime game, the Griz did not play a single one of their starters over 25 minutes while sitting Pau Gasol.  Madsen ended the game shooting 1-15 from the floor with the aforementioned 7 three pointers.  His 15 shots were a career high.  Memphis also sat out Eddie Jones while the Wolves gave Ricky Davis the night off.  The Wolves lost the game and were guaranteed their first round draft choice. 

...

Actually, Madsen's departure hasn't completely ended the Roy/Foye era.  Memphis' leading scorer on that pathetic night was Brian Cardinal, who jacked up 18 points against the lowly Wolves.

Had Brian Cardinal been the one jacking up three pointers for Our Beloved Puppies, there is no doubt in my mind that the Wolves would have won the game.  Cardinal finished that travesty of a game by going 4-7 from beyond the arc compared to 0-7 for Madsen.  Cardinal played to win while Madsen played to clown.  While this particular game will be hard to top as my least favorite Wolves memory of all time (I was able to make my way down from the upper bowl to 2-3 rows back by the time Madsen really got going), it will always stand tribute to the fact that no matter where Brian Cardinal is inserted into a basketball game, he will give paying customers the effort they deserve...even in a mockery of a contest.

This is as mushy as it's going to get for a guy who makes $82,000/game by sitting at the end of the bench.  I really hope that Cardinal can return to the team in some sort of assistant coaching role.  I think the guy has the makings of a solid coach and from all I've heard he's been fantastic behind the scenes for this franchise. 

As for last night's tilt...

...it was notable for a few reasons:
  • A night after letting the likes of Kwame Brown, Chris Wilcox, Jason Maxiell, and Jonas Jerebko go off for 30-38 inside of 10 feet (yes, this really happened), the Wolves allowed the Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood-less Wizards to go for 22-37 from within 10 feet.  That's the Wolves' defense allowing 79% and 59% from up-close in the last two games.  That's Al Jefferson looking as bad as we've ever seen him on defense.  He came back from the All Star break with a bum knee.  Here's hoping that the knee isn't serious and that he gets back to showing some improvement on defense because these last two games can be laid at the feet of awful interior defense more than anything else...and we're looking at you Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Hollins.  That being said, and knee or no knee, there were several points during last night's game where Jefferson absolutely did not look like he was trying.  My best guess is that this is what contributed to his early yank in his final 4th quarter stint.  It was ugly effort...on both ends of the court.  Not the type of stuff you ever want to see from your "best" player. 
  • Last night was yet another contest where Jonny Flynn sat out the entire 4th quarter.  In his place Ramon Sessions gave an all-out effort; diving for balls with very little time on the clock, running plays with the team down by a ton, slashing hard to the rim when there was obviously nothing to play for, and so on and so forth.  Getting back to the effort thing (which Kurt Rambis specifically cited in his post-game critique of the team), there is no reason on god's green earth why this team should lack effort and hustle.  None.  Especially on a night where they're going up against a depleted Wizards team who sent away its 3 best players in the past 48 hours.  For the Wolves to not give their full effort for 48 minutes is embarrassing and discouraging to its fan base.  I texted Wyn right before the game started and said that this was a 100% have-to-win sort of game because of the roster movement and unfamiliarity of the new Wizards.  All that was needed to bring it on home was superior effort and that was completely lacking during last night's game.  It was really hard to watch at times. 
  • Aside from Sessions, another player that gave his all was Kevin Love.  It was Love v. the Wiz at several times during the 2nd half.  During the 2nd, I can't remember how many times I watched a Wolves shot go up only to see Kevin Love and 3-4 white jerseys fighting for position under the rim.  On defense Love was often the only Wolves player over 6'7" who appeared to have any interest muscling his man out of the paint.  Love, who played only 28 minutes (seriously, WTF?!), ended the contest with 36% of his team's oreb and 30% of its drebs.  His overall rebound rates were 20/28.6%...in 28 minutes.  Granted, he turned the ball over a few too many times by trying to force some passes and he had his shot blocked a few too many times on what should have been easy put backs, but Love was on his own in the front court last night and you can file that fact away however you see fit. 

OK folks, that about does it for the game wrap.  Today is trade deadline day and I'm sure the chatter will be all about deadline deals and potential deals, not Wolves/Wiz game recaps.  For those of you looking for the HoopData box score, you can click here.  Here's the GameFlow

Will the Wolves make another move?  What was your favorite Brian Cardinal moment?  Do you think he'll be back?  Just how quickly will Darko make his way into the starting lineup ahead of Ryan Hollins?

Until later.

BTW: We'll have a Darko wrap up after the trade deadline.  If the Wolves make any more moves I want to be able to include them in a trade wrap up post.

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