Last night, Jordan Crawford illustrated the value of keeping slots open for 10-day contract experiments.
The atmosphere in the hallowed halls of the Smoothie King Center was subdued, to say the least. The energy level of the fans and players was exactly what you might expect at a late-season NBA matinee game between two teams that have less than a 1% chance to make the playoffs (according to fivethirtyeight.com). Sure, the Timberwolves and Pelicans combined to score 232 points, but as we saw from this year’s NBA All-Star Game (374 point combined), points scored ≠ effort given. Somebody forgot to tell Jordan Crawford he wasn’t supposed to give a damn, though.
Jordan Crawford’s body language and the look in his eye were characteristic of a man with something to prove. Jordan Crawford is a man renowned for his irrational level of confidence. Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose discussed it at length. Crawford KNOWS he belongs in the NBA, but he has had to fight for two years to get back to his rightful place, and he isn’t going away easily. Sure, he just signed a contract for the rest of the year, but he still needs to prove he is worthy of playing in the NBA next year and beyond.
To make matters worse for the lackadaisical pack of pups, Jordan Crawford started hitting shots and his confidence went through the roof. He was on fire, while the Wolves began to tire:
Somehow, I doubt this Jordan shrug will be as iconic.
Even more impressive than those deep bombs was this posting and toasting of Kris Dunn, an arguably elite 1-on-1 defender.
The Wolves pulled within 3 (99-102) in the fourth quarter, but down the stretch, the whole Pelicans squad got hot, and the Wolves were decidedly not. The Pelicans hit 5 of 11 three pointers in the fourth quarter, while the ice-cold Wolves shot 1-6 from downtown. Zach LaVine may have come in very handy, as I suspect he would have loved to engage in a showdown with Crawford.
Sans LaVine, Karl-Anthony led the Timberwolves in 3-point attempts, and though he made his first 3, he hit only 1 out of his next 5 attempts. With 33 points, The Big KAT’s scoring statistics look impressive as usual, but when the Wolves went to him possession after possession in the fourth, looking for him to keep them in the game, he failed to deliver. On four straight possessions in the fourth quarter, with less than 6 minutes to play, Towns missed two shots and turned it over twice.
After the game, an obviously frustrated Towns assessed, “We’re just not closing out games. It sucks ... It sucks.”
Meanwhile, the Pelicans kept right on cookin’, as Anthony Davis faded and knocked two down, despite double-teams from Wiggins and Towns. AD shot nearly 70% from the field and led the Pels with 28 points. The Brow definitely made me say wow!
Sometimes it just isn’t your night, but it seemed to me that the Wolves lacked fight. Coach Tom Thibodeau saw it the same way, “In the second half, we came out loose, y’know, no defense. So, you get what you deserve in this league...the game is in the balance, you got a chance to win in the fourth, and then you let go of the rope, and then that’s what happens. So, there’s not much fight.”
Yep, sometimes it comes down to who wants it more. Jordan Crawford played with passion and brought it this afternoon, and his teammates seemed inspired by his fire and desire. The Timberwolves just looked tired.
An Aside from Clyde
It was great to see Rubio come out running and gunning once again.
Ricky shot with confidence, knocking down a pretty pull-up off a screen, as well as hitting a respectable 2 out of 5 3-pointers. He also racked up 13 assists, including a pretty alley-oop to Andrew Wiggins:
Unfortunately, as the Wolves were getting beat, Rubio took a seat. He played nearly 5 minutes in the fourth quarter, but failed to record any statistic other than a personal foul, pulling off the rare 500,000. 5 minutes played, 0 points, 0 assists, 0 rebounds, 0 steals, 0 blocks.
Oh well, don’t get too depressed Canis Hoopers. The Wolves will get a good pick, Zach will heal up quick, and next year, the Wolves will be led to the playoffs by a Spanish maestro named Rick. To be cheered up by my poem about Maestro Rubio, go to the Canis Hoopus homepage and click on the pic of the hick.