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"They must be satisfied with moral victories."

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Those were the words of Spurs announcer Sean Elliot upon watching the Wolves' guards fail to foul Tony Parker with what can only be described as a s$%t load of time still on the clock  after working hard to claw their way back into the game during the 4th quarter.  It was the culmination of about 2 solid minutes of baffled announcing along the lines of "they've absolutely conceded the game," "that's why they're going to lose their 13th in a row," "that will drive Kevin McHale right back to a front office somewhere," and, my favorite, "didn't Oklahoma City do something like that the other night?" 

I'll keep the game wrap short tonight this morning because yours truly is tired after wrapping up a long night of getting Santa's gifts ready for distribution, but this, to me, easily qualifies as the worst loss of the year.  The Wolves did not play poorly tonight.  At times they played stupidly, but not poorly.  They out-rebounded San Antonio 38-35.  They kept the turnovers close at 11-8.  They beat the hell out of the Spurs at the line (25-32) to (18-24).  They even performed admirably from beyond the arc, going (4-15) compared to SAS's (5-13).  Do you want to know why the Wolves lost last night's game?  The Spurs' defensive rebounding.  Period. 

As I have gone over on many occasions, the Wolves are a poor shooting team who must rely on volume shooting and offensive rebounding.  There simply isn't any other way for a poor shooting team with this little talent to win.  Shoot, shoot, shoot, and hope that your scrappy collection of power forwards can get their fair share of offensive rebounds and put-backs.  Last night the Wolves grabbed 6 offensive rebounds. 6.  Because they are a poor defensive team that does not gamble a lot, they don't force a lot of turnovers.  Because they are a poor shooting team, they don't win many games with a high eFG%.  If you put 2 and 2 together, you will see that not grabbing offensive rebounds causes them to lose out on extended possessions  (i.e. additional shots), and even when they turn up the defensive intensity to negate the downturn in FGAs (which they did at times last night), it does not matter because their offense simply cannot make up for the difference without a hefty dose of Orebs.  You really have to love the Spurs.  They knew exactly what Minnesota's strength was and they attacked it.  At least the Wolves caused an opponent to try; not to simply roll over for 3 quarters before turning on the jets.  You could really tell that the Spurs were focusing on the defensive glass from the opening tip.

Let's wrap this up with some talking points:

  • Did the Spurs audio crew really play Weird Al Yankovic's Eat It during the 4th quarter?
  • If you inadvertently kick a guy in the nuts is it really a foul or just incidental contact?   What if it happens inside of the circle?
  • Fox Sports SW's Spurs key to the game was "no Christmas presents." 
  • Sean Elliot is J-Pete without the solid insight.
  • On a play with about 4:30 to go in the 1st Randy Foye tried to enter the ball to Big Al.  Al was covered and Foye dribbled to the other side of the court and jacked up a perimeter shot.  As soon as the shot left Foye's hand, Al started to pout and was late getting back in transition before Tony Parker was fouled and sent to the line by Foye.  Foye went to the ground and was helped up by Ryan Gomes. Al was there too but instead of offering his hand he appeared to be saying something to Foye about not getting him the ball.  Foye simply walked away.  Leadership is about the little things too.  It's about knowing when to pick your battles.  It's also about calling out screens and helping people up off their ass. 
  • Did you know that Kurt Thomas led the NCAA in scoring while at TCU in 1995?
  • Kevin McHale really doesn't seem to know how to coach.  The timeout situation at the end of the game was inexcusable as well as some of the rotations he is backing himself into. He has no sense for pace or for when to pull the trigger/cut the chord on a particular lineup.  Despite all of this, the winless McHale had the nerve to bitch about the refs following the game. 
  • McHale now has a losing career record at the head of the Wolves' bench: 19-20.
  • Sebastian Telfair got to the line 12 times.  He had 1 assist and was 3-12 from the field. That being said, he should be getting the lion's share of the PG minutes. 
  • ESPN's box score listed the Wolves as starting 2 PFs, 2 PGs, and a C.  I think they could have simply gone with 3 and 2

Well folks, that about does it for now.  I'm going on hiatus for a few days to enjoy the holiday and I'll see you again later this week or on the weekend.