Welcome to tonight’s report card. This is my first report card, and while I’ve made some FanPosts here at CH, I feel like this is my first true intro to my fellow Wolves fans. My name is Mark and I live in Oregon with my wife and animals, sentenced to the frustrations of League pass viewings. I’ve been a Wolves fan since 1994 when I moved to Minneapolis from Wisconsin. I grew up a Bucks fan- Marques, Moncrief, Pressey, Catchings, Cummings, Mokeski, Sikma, Lanier, Winters, Junior, Nellie- those were my guys as a kid. So, it was a shock when I arrived in ‘Sota and was welcomed by the Isaiah-Laettner axis. Joy. If nothing else, the Wolves have always fed my cynical and morose inclinations. And then there was KG…
Now I reside in Oregon and the Rose Garden is about a 50 minute drive from the house. I had intentions to attend tonight’s game, but given the Ricky and Pek injuries and tax time, I thought the better of shelling out $100 or so to secure my in-person attendance. As for my OR-7 moniker, it’s in honor of this intrepid individual.
Before I get to the grades, I felt that the game turned in the early portion of the fourth. Wolves sat Love and Luke to start the quarter while Blazers rested LaMarcus. Now was the time for the Wolves to at least play even during the hot bench-on-bench action. Down eight to start the quarter, the bench was doing okay as the score was 94-87 at the 9:21 mark. Not a horrible position. A stop and a bucket and we’d be back within a mere handful. But then Luke Babbitt hit a trey from the front of Powell’s on Burnside, Wayne felt the need for a heat-check two (he missed) and then fourth quarter hero J.J. Hickson delivered a basket in the lane. Lead ballooned to twelve, coach called a timeout to call upon The Tourniquet but it was too late. Effectively the best Wolves could do after that was to return the margin to ten after a Luke steal and layup at 3:51.
Sometimes you just get beat. Tonight was one of those games. Outshot 52% to 46% from the field and bested handily on the glass. Not a great combination. Bright spots: only 8 turnovers and 35 charity tosses.
Two final pre-report card bits:
Can we all agree that a Luke floater should simply be referred to as a "Loater?" Just feels right.
Also, after remembering J-Pete gnash his teeth over doubling in the post I decided to keep track of the Blazer results when the Wolves doubled LA below the free throw line. Of course, I remembered this after two double-teams early on. After that point, I counted 13 sets where the Wolves doubled LA. Blazers produced 7 buckets out of those sets. What to make of that? Not much, although it does demonstrate that I was paying more attention than usual ;-)
Kevin was efficient on offense with 26 pts on 16 shots. 12 free tosses always solid. I liked his energy on defense tonight. LA did not have too many open jumpers, although to Aldridge’s credit he made the contested ones as well. Real problem was, when LA goes out to 18 feet Kevin gets taken out of rebounding position, leaving J.J. Hickson to feast. In the offense Kevin made some very nice finds to the backdoor cutters and I really look forward to this expansion of Kevin’s game next season and we have possession of a hypothetical wing that I will only refer to right now as O.J. Gordonbeal.
It is somewhat unfair to render a grade on a player that has no proper backup currently available. He has to play too much while being responsible for being the first point of defense. In the first quarter he was pretty miserable, 2 for 6 from the field and Felton was making a living in the lane thanks to his aggression. But after that, he had a nice finish to his game as he shot 5 of 8 the rest of the way. In the third quarter it was his connections with Derrick that provided our only reasonable measure of offense for a time. It must be noted, however, that Luke’s lone Loater of the night was followed immediately with a Ridnover.
A potentially harsh grade but I felt Derrick let us down on defense and on the boards. While Kevin was being dragged outside, Derrick needed to be more responsible for misses. He was not. 6 rebounds on 42 minutes of action?!?! And in the fourth quarter J.J. Hickson schooled him repeatedly. Again, he spent most of his night dealing with Hickson, who while coming off of a solid performance, should not be allowed to dictate like he did. That being said, Derrick’s offense was agreeable, especially seeing as Kevin had a sluggish start to his night. His drives to the hoop were more definite and it was nice to see.
Wes: C (I guess?)
Honestly, how do you assess him anymore? I mean, he finished with 9 points, which is sadly worth a shout out for Wes. He had some nice slashes to the rim for easy hoops, which is frankly all I want to see him do on offense- just be active and stop shooting from beyond 15 feet. He even had Batum silenced for the first half but then that effort disappeared in the third quarter when Nic got going and ran the Blazer lead to nine (73-64) on successive possessions. First he lost Wes on a screen for an easy two and then got loose the next time down court for a trey. And of course, later in the quarter there was the four-point play he allowed…calling Mr. O.J. Gordonbeal? Mr. Gordonbeal?
Marty, god love you, but you are infuriating. Marty tonight was like the community theater actor that flubs up his/her lines soon as the lights dim and the curtain rises. They may have played the rest of the night flawlessly (Webster didn’t) but you’re still going to be left with that flub to chat about with your spouse on the car ride home. Marty did it twice tonight. The first plays of both halves he Wested and when I’m taking notes, those are the two easiest plays to scribble down. Sorry, Marty…could’ve gone off for twenty and ten tonight and it wouldn’t have mattered (much). P.S. Wes Matthews was your J.J. Hickson in the first half. "We are Marquette!"
Played 31 minutes out of necessity and we here all know that Wayne is not a 31-minute-a-night guy. Just isn’t. He hit some shots he shouldn’t have and he missed some he should’ve made. That’s Wayne. There was a stretch during the game that I thought he was doing a solid job on Jamal Crawford but it all came out in the wash. Meh.
Sad eyes! Is that you? I give the Big Mope a grade in the range of B because he showed some nice effort on defense. He had some admirable challenges on three shots in the paint- twice recording the block. I mention this because the Wolves are not able to do this (often). It was a nice reprieve. But then again, AR also fouled Johnny Flynn thirty feet from the hoop for no discernible reason. He tried hard on a night when he most likely thought he’d only be delivering ass-slaps.
The effort was there. It always is, but talent is better. His -11 was second worst for the night and he only played 16 minutes. 0 for 3 from downtown did his grade no favors and I find nothing discernible regarding his defense in my notes.
Like, Luke an unfortunate player to have to grade. A rookie who has missed most of the season and then thrust into playing the point the predominant amount of time when he is on the court is not fair. But it is what it is. Like AR he had good activity on defense with some steals (although Johnny crossed him badly on one drive…ouch). Like Ricky he has longer arms than you would assume. The offense bogged down while he ran it there in the second quarter but really, what is Coach supposed to do? Luke isn’t bionic. The effort is there. In time the results will match, I hope.
Coach Adelman: No grade
As previous reporters have mentioned, this mere observer is in no place to cast aspersions upon a Hall-of-Fame coach. Road victories with this nine-player assemblage this late in to the season are miracles at this juncture.
Hope you all enjoyed. I encourage all to sign up for report cards next season. It makes for a very different viewing experience. Thankfully, here with the Portland broadcast all night, the Mikes were bearable. Kudos to LA, Hickson and Batum for their solid efforts and also to Snapper Jones for his pre-game accolades.