OK, let's go over the ways in which the Wolves lose games.
First, there is the ol' fashioned blow out. This is your early-season Orlando, Miami, Memphis sort of ordeal.
Second, there is the time-tested loss against a good team that coasts through the first half only to turn it on when they need to after a stern talking-to by their coach at half time. There are probably too many of these to count.
Third, there is the close blow-out. This is where the opposing team sticks it to the good guys early on only to see Our Beloved Puppies cause some Vegas bookmakers some heartburn as they inch closer to the spread.
Fourth, there is the playing-to-their-level loss. This is where the Wolves find themselves up against a depleted opponent only to find that they still are not up to the task.
Fifth, there is the monumental FUBAR. This is where the Wolves find new and amazing ways to lose close games down the stretch.
Am I missing any?
Tonight's game was something of a combo platter between the 4th and 5th style losses. The Wolves found themselves in a game against a Utah team without its best player and with Al Jefferson in foul trouble (he eventually fouled out). They managed to putz away the game in the 4th quarter with a dazzling display of turnovers, careless play, and all-around baffling decision making. You want to feel sorry for their loss but with action like tonight, that's kind of like feeling sorry for the fat guy who goes to Old Country Buffet every day of his life. It's sort of par for the course.
Tomorrow's Popcorn Game Flow will be especially interesting to look at because tonight's game, at least while watching it in real-time, seemed to be plagued by some interesting substitution patterns. Wes Johnson plays out of his mind in the first 20 or so minutes only to disappear for large chunks of action. After the half, Kurt Rambis subs out Beasley to set him up for minutes with the 2nd unit and he doesn't get back in the game for a long time. Again, I'll have to see the Game Flow but it seemed like the Wolves were making the first half of a two part substitution move only to forget about the latter portion of the equation. Oh, they also apparently do not believe in fouling when down by 5 and under a minute to go. Actually, that's not completely true. They did foul, but only after letting 15 seconds run off the shot clock. Again, they find new and interesting ways to piss away close games.
- This was probably Jonny Flynn's best game of the year and he and Wes Johnson showed something approaching chemistry in the first half. That being said, it is still somewhat comical to see Flynn leave his feet at every possible opportunity, get lost in a maze of screens on defense, and dribble the ball out of bounds. He also had 6 turnovers in under 18 minutes, soooooooo....
- For all of his downs, Wes Johnson appears to be something of a very nice passer from the wing. If only it weren't for that tricky ball-handling issue.
- Al Jefferson looks like a lost puppy away from the low left block.
- Is it just me or do Wolves players not named Kevin Love simply forget to box out their man on a large number of plays? It's almost like they think he's going to collect every ball in sight and they forget that more often than not, someone else has to grab the rebound. A 33% defensive rebounding rate is impressive, but that's still a lot of rebounding that needs to be done. On at least 4 occasions that I counted, Wolves players gave up offensive rebounds that should have been collected with a simple box out; the most blatant ones occurring when Beasley lost track of AK-47 on a weak side job and when nobody bothered to box out Paul Milsap when he missed a 2nd free throw in a row.
- Speaking of that 2nd missed free throw, that was the possession of the game. Milsap missed both free throws, got the rebound, kicked it out, had the ball passed back around to him on the wing where he took a shot that hit the side of the backboard, gathered the rebound and scored. It was beyond ugly and it was the possession that seemingly put the final nail in the coffin.