It's pretty hard to find something good on this club to write about right now. They have the worst offense in team history, their 1/2 court defense is in shambles, their transition defense may be worse than their offense, they are starting two players (Darko Milicic and Ryan Gomes) who may not be with the team next year, Kevin Love is buried deep in the dog house, and even a few Corey Brewer poster dunks are fairly hard to get all that worked up over.
When things aren't going my way I find the best approach to turn things around is to first take stock of what is going right and then move forward by creating small increments where clear goals can be stated, approached, and achieved.
My question for this game-wrap/open-thread is two-fold: What is going right and what does the team need to do until the end of the year to have something to build upon?
Perhaps the Wolves need to take an approach borrowed from spring training baseball. Much like pitchers take a few innings to work on a specific pitch, maybe the Wolves need to take the remaining schedule to focus on a few key areas. They should have goals for limiting points on turnovers. They should be pulling players who don't engage in enthusiastic transition defense. How about throwing Jonny Flynn a bone by running more pick and rolls with Kevin Love? We're at the lowest point of the season right now and it's time for baby steps. It would be very nice for the club to designate some clear goals that can be worked for and met between now and the end of the season.
Last night against the Jazz the Wolves hardly put up a fight. They have played the Jazz tough all year and this figured to be one of their better chances of victory until the end of the month. They match up against the Jazz well in terms of size and they should have met this challenge with a robust effort from the opening tap.
Unfortunately, the entire affair was a flat one and they ended up once again giving up more than 120 points to an opponent.
What's really frustrating about the current losing binge is that if it were not for a 3 point victory against the Wade-less Heat, the Wolves would be on an 18-game streak in the wrong direction with games against the Lakers, Raptors, Bobcats, Magic, and Suns on the horizon. The remaining schedule does the Wolves no favors and if they want this thing to end on a positive note, they need to come up with some achievable goals (and effort) in a hurry.
Let's wrap this thing up with a few random game notes:
- The Wolves conceded (intentionally or not) the 15 foot jump shot to Jazz power forwards all night long. It was fairly amazing to see Paul Milsap and Carlos Boozer with 10 feet of open space at the free throw line on possession after possession.
- As mentioned above, the Wolves' transition defense is probably its worse trait right now. Against the Jazz it seemed like each and every single turnover resulted in an odd-man rush and a quick 2 points for the guys from Utah. I cannot remember seeing transition defense this poor on a professional basketball team. It really is embarrassing.
- On one such transition opportunity, Kyle Korver had an opportunity for an uncontested dunk. He approached the basket like he was going to throw one down but something went wrong on the runway and he meekly put up a layup several inches below the rim. He was smiling before he hit the ground and I imagine his poor dunk attempt will be the subject of much hilarity during the next few Jazz practices.
- Deron Williams had something of an off game for his standards (especially from the floor) but he still remains one of my favorite players to watch. The man is an absolute surgeon with the ball in his hands and I am hopeful that his Jazz gets a crack at the Lakers in the post-season.
- There is nothing good to be said about Kevin Love's play right now. Like it or not, he is being challenged by his coach to improve his effort on both ends of the court and he needs to answer that bell instead of sulking.
- Wayne Ellington is deserving of a start before the season is all said and done with. He is one of the few players on the squad who appears to be giving a full effort night-in/night-out. He also appears to be putting in a solid effort on the defensive end of the court. This would probably mean shifting Ryan Gomes to the bench and Brewer to the three, but it would be nice to see the man get a start or two in the near future.