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Just like being there

Before we get started with the game I want to mention a few things about my love/hate relationship with League Pass.  On one hand, I'm glad that I can watch each and every single Wolves game.  On the other, is it too much to ask that each and every single NBA game should have at least 1 TV crew in the house?  Last night's League Pass offering was the in-house camera with the radio broadcast mashed up over the top of it.  Within 2 minutes of watching the game I had had enough with the below-the-basket camera angle that made watching a possession develop damn near impossible....especially with Boston/Atlanta in HD on the normal TV.  Also, while I enjoy attending Wolves games, I don't want to see the Howl Meter at home. 

Getting around to the game, let's start with the most obvious.  Here are some random snippets of Flynn action in the 1st quarter:

- Drive right, pass to the top of the key, drift to the corner
- Pass to the top of the key, drift to the corner
- Dribble left baseline, kick to corner, stay there
- floater in transition
- Dribble left, kick to top, drift towards....time out

On his return to action after a fantastic Sessions stint he ran maybe the worst pick and roll in recent NBA history followed by a jacked up 1 hander from 15 feet after missing a wide-open Love straight on behind the arc.  The flubbed pick and roll also included the 1st year point guard completely blowing off an entry pass to Al Jefferson

On the other hand, here are a few random selections of Sessions action:

- high pinch post, cut to rim, take pass along the baseline, and kick out for a 3
- pass to the post, rub off screen, ball rotated and shot taken
- Pass to left wing, drift to corner, Ellington slashes to the hoop behind Sessions' cut

Yet, in the 3rd quarter when the Wolves pulled away, Flynn was on the court and his shots were falling and the Wolves got to the line like madmen.  We were still treated with large doses of dribble, dribble, dribble, drive/shoot or dribble up, pass off, and drift to the corner.  Flynn was at the controls during the huge 19-2 run but at the end of it he had 1 assist for the entire game and the only difference between 1st half Jonny and 2nd half Jonny was that the shots were falling and he was able to get to the line.  All of this being said, he did score a bunch of points while not turning the ball over.  Perhaps that is the bar we need to be most concerned about with a rookie point guard transitioning from Syracuse to the NBA. 

Also, in one of those holy-crap-+/--really-doesn't-capture-what-is-going-on-on-the-court-tonight moments, Flynn was the team's leader in +/- while Sessions was at the bottom.  Flynn spent the majority of his time on the court with the starters while Sessions...well, not so much. 

Random thoughts:

Here are some more examples of the in house nonsense that was shown on the live feed:

  • Noise
  • Delta Replay
  • Howl Meter
  • Louder!
  • Happy 11th birthday Andrew!!!
  • "The Jefferson"
  • A cute baby with a #42 Love jersey.  I will be getting one of these for the baby-to-be-named-later that is due any day now (and which we have yet to pick a name for...leave your boy/girl suggestions in the comments). 

Those of us watching at home also got to learn that the Wolves appear to have been bought by Klondike Bar earlier in the day. 

Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers.  Three pointers, three pointers, three pointers. Check out the Four Factors:


Pace (Poss) Eff eFG FT/FG OREB% TOr
Indiana 99.4 (99) 110.1 53.3% 14.4 14.0 11.1
Minnesota 113.1 52.6% 40.3 29.3 18.2


You can thank Kevin Love and Al Jefferson for the rebounds and free throws.

Indy shot over .500 from 3.  That's the only reason why they were in the game. They took over 30 shots from beyond the arc and made over .500 of them.  They still lost.

Let's talk about rotations.  This little issue has been building for a while, even garnering a mention by David Kahn during his Thursday appearance on KFAN's PA Show (where he mentioned that the team had rolled out some pretty awful rotations during the past 3-4 games).  The worst rotation offense came against the Warriors during the 3rd quarter.  The Wolves had just made a 13-0 run to cut the lead into the single digits and Rambis rotated out both Kevin Love and Al Jefferson and any momentum the Wolves might have had was thrown directly out the window.  (Interestingly enough, while I am typing this we are seeing an exact replay of this little trick in the 3rd quarter with Love and Big Al going to the bench while the Pacers enter an 8-2--and counting--run). 

The main rotation issue is the mess (yes, mess) occurring at the point guard position.  There are unexplored possibilities having to do with the use of Ramon Sessions and Wayne Ellington and they typically come at the expense of handing over large chunks of ineffective minutes to Jonny Flynn.  Player development is nice but so is putting your best rotation on the court and giving your fans something to cheer about.  Can we please see some extended minutes with Sessions, Ellington, Gomes, Love, and Jefferson?  Please?  Pretty please? 

It is pretty baffling what is going on with Ramon Sessions' free throw shooting this year.  It has to be mental.  One of the overwhelming positives of Sessions' young career has been his ability to deliver at the line, averaging 5.3 FTA/36 minutes and making 78% of his attempts.  This season he is still averaging just about 5 FTA/36 minutes but he is only making .648% of his free throws. 

Wayne Ellington is really playing some nice ball for a rookie.  He needs to build up a few more minutes before we start talking about comparing his impact to Brewer's but it's looking good right now.  He's an average defender, he rebounds well, and he is able to score like he was at UNC: without a huge usage rate.  He even ran a nice two man play with Love down the stretch in the 4th quarter. 

Wolves radio announcer Alan Horton really has done a nice job transitioning to a one-man show since the cost-cutting efforts of the team did away with former co-host and Jefferson Jaguar Kevin Lynch.  He kept things brisk and entertaining and there were no moments of dead air during a sometimes hard-to-watch contest.  The radio folks even had a nice high school segment where Horton talked with a coach from up north who will be taking part in tomorrow's high school extravaganza.  He also came up with the stat of the night.  With 2 minutes to go in the 4th quarter he made a nice comment about the Wolves running their best offensive set of the night right before rolling into a comment about the team moving the ball very well in the 4th and a stat to back it up: 8 or their 9 buckets (at the time) were the result of assists. 

Kevin Love had a whole lot of trouble handling Troy Murphy away from the basket in the first half.  Murphy was red hot and was hitting shot after shot from beyond the arc.  Love simply didn't close out enough on his perimeter-proficient opponent and it cost him some time on the court. 

Corey Brewer hit the two biggest shots of the game: A touch catch and shoot with the shot clock winding down and a big 3 with the game on the line in the 4th.  Both shots were not high percentage opportunities and the Wolves were very lucky to have 5 points on those 2 possessions. 

Speaking of Mr. Brewer, he is the highlight clip in NBA TV's newest "Where amazing happens" spot.  That dunk over Fisher gets better every time I see it. 

The Wolves are a better team than Indy.  I have no doubt about it in my mind.  Love and Jefferson are better than any two players on the Pacers and Our Beloved Puppies have a treasure trove of future assets that hopefully can be put to good use in the next  1-3 years.  I have no idea what Indy is trying to do or where they are trying to go.  It was nice to see the Wolves rebound from last week's terrible effort against an inferior squad and come away with the victory. 

The Wolves' new mostly-white warm ups look great.  Can someone please sell the old school blue track suit and these new white warm ups?

Well, that about does it.  It was a nice win and I'll post the GameFlow tomorrow. 

Until later.

UPDATE: GameFlow here.