Since music seems like the only thing that CHers like more than the Wolves, here is a soundtrack to accompany the report card. Open this in another tab or window, sit back and enjoy the ride...
(this song was selected since Alaska Airlines plays this song incessantly while loading/offloading planes. I figure that is because it is difficult to be angry when this song is playing).
To put my situation in perspective, I live in Juneau, Alaska (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juneau,_Alaska), where it rains or snows 225 days per year. April and May are the best months for enjoying some sunshine and the last 4 weeks have been gorgeous. It has become a chore to sit down and watch our beloved squad at 4:00 in the afternoon. Looking outside, spring has sprung and much like the swallows returning to Capistrano or NHL players trying to decapitate each other with hockey sticks, our Timberwolves’ annual rite of spring is to play (and lose) meaningless games in April. We are on the slow drift towards the off season. We wait with bated breath to see what brilliant moves David Kahn will come up with to balance (improve) the roster.
How did they lose? Are there any glimmers of hope for the roster? (I’m looking at you Malcolm Lee).
Two positives... actually the only two positives are the play of Barea and Pek. Barea drives many folks crazy with his style of play, but imagine if the player we saw tonight was coming off the bench for a full, healthy team. I think this is the player that Kahn was envisioning when he inked him to a 4 year deal. He has to be guarded at the 3 point line while additionally putting pressure and drawing fouls on interior defenders. Heck, he even posted up Conley on the left block tonight (I think it ended with a pass and finish by Pek). Pek is playing courageously. I heard that Adelman is thinking of shutting him down if the ankle pain persists (he will have off-season surgery). The fact that he is playing at this level is inspirational. Both Barea and Pek are being true professionals at this point in the season.
On to the grades with a few miscellaneous notes to finish up.
JJ Barea: A
38:39,10-20 FGs, 5-9 3PT, 3-4 FT, 5 TRB, 8 AST, 5 TO, 1 STL, 28 Pts
Are you kidding me? One of JJ’s better games as a T-Wolf. He never let up, constant motion on offense and defense. Of course you’d like to see more distribution from the PG position, but his effort went a long way towards making this a competitive game.
Martell Webster: D-
28:03, 1-6 FG, 0-1 3PT, 4-4 FT, 1 ORB, 3 TRB, 1 AST, 1 TO, 6 Pts
Jumping around on a trampoline with mittens on... tough to watch.
Wes Johnson: DNP (player’s decision)
17:35, 0-1 FG, 0-1 3PT, 0-0 FT (again), 3 TRB, 2 BS, every other category is zero
Don’t remember seeing him on the court. How can he even get a grade? In college-speak, he is auditing this class. His only shot attempt of the night was on a WIIIIDE open 3 pt attempt late in the shot clock that he was basically required to take.
19:09, 1-8 FG, 2-2 FT, 1 ORB, 3 TRB, 2 AST, 1 TO, 1 STL, 2 BS, 4 Pts
Randolph got his second start in a row and he rewarded the coach by going 1-8. Looked indecisive on the offensive and continually out of position on the defensive end. Hollins seemed intent on going directly at Randolph in the first half; Speights and Z-Bo were a combined 11-16 in the first half. Adelman decided he had enough (AR played only 6 minutes in the second half). Tolliver got the nod in the second half and was able to stop some of the bleeding from the PF spot.
36:30, 6-12 FG, 4-6 FT, 6 ORB, 11 TRB, 1 AST, 2 TO, 1 BS, 16 PTs
The Grizzlies kept throwing bigs at him and he kept shrugging them off. First Gasol then Hadaddi (hell of a player; aggressive with a soft touch around the basket). He was racking up fouls on everyone. The refs weren’t overly generous either. The Grizz could have been in even deeper foul trouble if Pek wasn’t such a tree trunk. He gets hacked and run into on damn near every shot he takes. His mobility is noticeably hampered by his ankle injury. Kudos for being a badass, Pek!
27:19, 3-5 FG, 0-2 3PT, 7 RB, 1 AST, 2 TO, 1 STL, 8 PTs
Wayne won the SG contest with Webster, but that bar is pretty low these days. He did a decent job with perimeter defense and had a nice sprint down the floor to finish a fast break along with Barea.
Anthony Tolliver: C+
27:14, 2-6 FG, 1-5 3PT, 2-2 FT, 2 ORB, 7 TRB, 1 AST, 3 TO, 2 STL, 1 BS, 7 Pts
As is normally the case with AT, his play improved as the game wore on. He helped on the defensive end of the floor with some nice post defense against Z-Bo. He was the most obvious victim of some questionable calls down the stretch.
Michael Beasley: D+
17:58, 2-5 FGS,1-2 3PT, 2-2 FT, 1 TRB, 1 TO, 7 Pts
Seems like Super Cool Beas might be costing himself some future earnings right now. His offense was not the infuriating variety, but his defense was brutal. Rudy Gay scored at will whenever Beas was guarding him (he did that several defenders tonight, but Beas seemed like his favorite target).
Malcolm Lee: C-
9:21,1-5 FG, 2-2 FT (see how its done Wes), 1 TRB, 1 TO, 1 STL, 4 Pts
Seems like whenever Lee enters the game, he promptly fires the ball out of bounds. Rookie nerves? dunno. He took some ill advised shots and didn’t look terribly comfortable. I noticed his speed up the floor with the ball. He might evolve into a nice change of pace player if he is encouraged to “play fast.” I am thinking along the lines Rajon Rondo. I am not saying he will become as good as Rondo, I would just like to see some Rondo-type basketball from him.
Brad Miller: C
11:30, 0-2 FG, 0-2 3PT, 2-2 FT, 2 ORB, 3 TRB, 2 AST, 2 Pts
Some one has to come in when Pek sits down, right? Miller is the only guy left on the bench for that duty. He made three beautiful passes, kinda made me nostalgic for his days with the Kings. Nice career, Brad.
Derrick Williams: D-
6:42, 0-3 FG, 2-4 FT, 1 ORB, 2 TRB, 1 BS, 2 Pts
DThrill, DWill, Caged Lion, D Willy, whatever his name is this week has certainly earned some disdain from RA. Practically no burn tonight. Didn’t look like he was terribly focused when he was out there.
Tony Allen is a helluva player. Didn’t have the greatest night, but he is back from a fairly nasty (looking) injury. http://www.straightouttavancouver.com/2012/4/5/2928657/in-case-you-missed-it-here-is-tony-allens-nasty-cut
OJ Mayo had two huge hustle plays in the 4th quarter. On was a dive into the 3rd or 4th row to save a ball and the other was a crash into the announcer’s table. These hustle plays, more than any shot or rebound, helped decide the outcome of this game.
It certainly couldn’t have been by design, but the Grizzlies went completely away from feeding the inside players in the 4th quarter and it nearly cost them this game.
Has Darko played his last game in the NBA? Certainly not this year. Probable amnesty this summer. I imagine he will either hang it up or play a season or two back home. Is this the end for Darko?
Thanks for reading. Love to hear your thoughts on the game.