All it took was 1-13.
That's how the Wolves opened the game tonight against Indiana: shooting 1-13, en route to an early 5-14 deficit. And while the Pacers weren't playing badly, by any means, they certainly weren't playing great.
The Wolves are a victim of, as Flip terms it, their own lack of energy to start the game, and all the players can feel it. They just aren't sure what to do about it. Flip talked about it after the game. Zach talked about it. Chase talked about it; Bazz talked about it. The Wolves just came out flat.
After that 1-13 start, the Wolves shot 54%. Think about that. For 75% of the game, the Wolves played well enough to beat Indiana. But they just dug too deep a hole at the start.
I mean, Indiana is not exactly in great shape as a basketball team. They're missing their best player too. And their starting point guard. And because Lance Stephenson is Lance Stephenson, they haven't been able to work out who the starting shooting guard should be either. They're a team in chaotic flux just like we are; a basketball sandbar held together basically by David West's anger and Roy Hibbert's height.
Oh. And they're playing the second of a back-to-back, with that first game being at the unfriendly altitude of Denver.
Nor does it help when the team is so limited by its personnel. Flip talked tonight about the playbook, and how much of it is not getting used.
Now, regardless of what you think of Flip's playbook (I'll take a graceful 'no comment' on this) not being able to use most of it really hurts. Indiana, for all its own setbacks, is still a well-coached team that can defend. When your play calling gets parred down to 4 or 5 plays and the bad guys take 3 or 4 of them away from you, you're stuck. There's no well to go to. Zach is just not able (at least right now) to command a full system, and Mo's feet just aren't doing what he wants them to.
So, in a game where the Wolves should win, the Wolves not winning is pretty depressing. This was what we call a 'schedule win'; a game where the odds are actually in the Wolves' favor. But you're not going to win coming out as despondent as the Wolves did. Flip talked about how young guys coming out and not putting in effort turns development opportunity into just a waste of time, which pretty much is what the Wolves have been doing of late.
- Mo Williams is not traveling with the team to deal with a personal matter tomorrow. Between that and being forced to play waaayyy more than the 10-15 minutes Flip wants to limit him to, there's a good chance he won't be playing against Cleveland on Tuesday.
- Troy Daniels played all of about 45 seconds, and took one shot on a set play that was basically a lost cause from the beginning. I've been very vocal about the need for the Wolves to get 3pt shooting, specifically a catch-and-shoot 'safety net' option. But Daniels said before the game he hadn't seen the playbook yet, so playing time was probably not in the cards tonight. The Legend will have to begin another day.
- Jeff Adrien has basically taken Ronny Turiaf's roster spot by default, and will have it until further notice (he's even moved into Corey's locker. RIP Corey's massive pile of shoes.
- However, Adrien's contract cannot be guaranteed until January 10, so anytime between now and then, the Wolves could waive him to go in a different direction. Whether they do or not probably depends on Mo's availability, and if Flip decides he needs another point guard.
- But they should keep Adrien. His defensive reb% is nearly 37%. His net defensive rating is +1.7. He leads the team (albeit in very limited minutes) with an absurd +25 on court/off court mark (meaning the Wolves are 25 points/100 possessions better when he plays) For a team that really struggles to rebound and defend, you can't just throw that kind of value away.
- Andrew Wiggins needs a break. More for what looks like mental fatigue than anything else. The game is not coming easy to him, and it's a cyclical trap right now; he's being put into situations that make it difficult for him to succeed, but he's not skilled enough to really do anything beyond those situations. Post-game, Flip basically said Wiggins didn't do anything tonight, and he's not really wrong. Wig is in the struggle right now.
- Shabazz topped 20 points for the fourth straight game, but Flip was as critical as he was complimentary, citing the two charges towards the end where Flips says Bazz had blinders on. The challenge has been thrown down here for Bazz to expand his skillset and awareness of the court.
- For what it's worth though, Bazz has taken on the development challenge much better than Wiggins or Zach. Granted, he also has a year of experience on them, but the rise in his game has been meteoric by comparison. Not only is Bazz scoring at a ridiculous clip, but he's been steadily working more skill elements into his game as the year has progressed: counter moves in the post, making smarter basket cuts, and trying to get his range legit out to the three point line.
- Anthony Davis nearly singlehandedly beat the Thunder tonight. 38 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks. Just unreal. Nate once said he's a guy you sell the farm for, including Kevin Love, and man if Nate was ever right about that.
- Kobe on the other hand....
Ah, Kobe 25 points on 30 attempts 3 assists. 9 turnovers The legend continues— canishoopus (@canishoopus) December 22, 2014