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3-pointer from Section 131 – This Turd Cannot be Polished

Joann and I have tickets to 18 Wolves’ games this year. You might ask, “Why?” There is no answer to that. But we have them, and I’m going to post my impression of the team and each game right here on Bachblog. Lucky you.

Wednesday, January 5: Bobcats 108, Timberwolves 105 (overtime)

I'm shorter than Love and BeasleyThe Charlotte Bobcats are having a lousy year. Lousy enough, in fact, that their coach was fired a couple of weeks ago. Last night, they played without their three best players (Gerald Wallace, Stephen Jackson, and Nazr Muhammed). The Wolves had won 3-of-5 games coming in, and were as healthly as they’ve been all season (only Anthony Tolliver sat out).

So of course the Wolves laid an absolute reeking turd of a game on their home court, and managed to lose in overtime to the shorthanded Bobcats. Kevin Love (he and Michael Beasley were the only two Wolves who came to play last night) placed blame on the players (including himself) for the debacle, and refused to let head coach Kurt Rambis take any of the blame.

I don’t know what question Love was asked, but he pretty much had to say “it’s on us” (the players), and of course it was on the players to a large extent. But does Rambis have any responsibility at all for what the players do on the floor?

Basketball point oneWolves fans have complained all year about the team’s inability to execute an inbounds play after a timeout. We’ve seen a pathetic string of sloppy turnovers, poor execution, and disappointing shot selection. Can it be that the players just can’t execute the brilliant plays drawn up by Rambis?

Rambis was quoted after the game saying that the final play was to “get the ball in Michael [Beasley]‘s hands and let him make something happen.”


So that was it. That was the brilliant plan. Down by three with thirteen seconds left in the game, the idea is to just let Beasley “make something happen?” Shoot a three over Tyrus Thomas? No picks, no motion, terrible spacing. Beasley briefly handed the ball off—it couldn’t be called a pass—to Wesley Johnson who was hemmed in between his defender and the sideline, before getting it right back hot-potato style. So four guys standing around and hoping that, what? That Beasley is able to fake a drive around Thomas (why would he bite?) and somehow get a good look at a three?

Yes, Beasley was able to make something happen earlier this year against the Clippers in a similar situation. Similar, but not the same. The Wolves were down by a single point in that game: a two wins it (and did!). Last night down by three: not so much.

Basketball point twoRambis inexplicably chose to play Jonny Flynn for the entire fourth quarter. Flynn may have played his best basketball of his injury-shortened season. He hit two threes and dished out three assists. But, alas, he was terrible once again. It’s painful to watch him “run” the offense. It hurts to watch him pound the ball, dribbling it as high as his head. It galls to watch him ineffectually chase his man on defense on those rare possessions when he doesn’t just lose his man entirely.

He can’t play. The Wolves need to cut bait on him before his value falls to zero, if it’s not already there.

Kurt: If you are trying to win games (are you?) play Telfair over Flynn every night.

Basketball point threeI’m really not in any mood to find bright spots in last night’s performance: this turd cannot be polished. But it’s hard to ignore the stat lines put up by Love and Beasley. Kevin Love scored 35 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. He led the team in both categories and in assists (with five), while turning the ball over only twice. Uncharacteristically, he shot a high percentage from the floor (11-of-16). Characteristically, he shot well from the free throw stripe (10-of-11) and the three-point line (3-of-5). Taken out-of-context, these are incredible, all-star caliber numbers. In the context of the season Love is having they are just another day for him at the office (think about that: 35-15-5 and it seems routine). In the context of the horrible loss, they aren’t much fun.

There’s a story on SportsIllustrated.com this week that suggests that Love can’t wait to get out of Minnesota and away from Rambis. It’s hard to doubt it.

Michael Beasley missed two critical free throws near the end of the game. If he makes even one of them, the Wolves win the game. He’s demonstrated more than once this year that he is not a clutch free throw shooter. Still, he played an impressive game. He scored 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, passed well, and (huge for him) played over 48 minutes and picked up only one foul. From where I sat, his defense looked adequate.

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