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3-pointer from Section 131 – Deja vu and All that Jazz

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, December 22: Jazz 102, Wolves 107

Twovles vs JazzDeja vu all over again. Wolves led by 12 points to start the fourth quarter. This is, of course, just what we’ve come to expect. They were outscored by 17 points in the quarter and lost by five, which is also what we’ve come to expect. On this night, though, it wasn’t that the shots stopped falling—the Wolves scored 24 in the fourth after scoring 29, 27, and 27 in the first three—it was that the defense melted. The Jazz, after scoring 20, 25, and 26 points in the first three quarters—losing each—exploded for 41 in the final twelve minutes to win going away.

A few of the most egregious errors down the stretch were committed by Martell Webster. His four turnovers (seemed like eight to me), and a dumb foul in the last two minutes were very disappointing, coming as they did by one of the team’s “veterans” (he turned 24 years old just this month, but this is his sixth year in the league).

Rambis hit all of his usual talking points in the post-game press conference. Basically, he says, the Wolves are a young team, don’t know how to close games, and this is something that will only come with time and experience. No mention, again, of any possibility that the young, inexperienced head coach bears some of the responsibility.


Basketball point one Another nice, efficient night for the rookie Wes Johnson, though it was marred by the terrible late-game foul he commited on Gordon Hayward to effectively end the Wolves’ chances. He scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 4-for-6 on three-pointers. His defense, once again, was solid (save the stupid foul), and he continues to impress with his passing. One knock on his game to this point is his seeming passivity on offense. He possesses a beautiful stroke, but thus far has been a reluctant shooter.

C’mon Wes, light it up!

Basketball point twoThe battle we all came to see was “Big Al” Jefferson versus Kevin Love. It did not disappoint.

It went all Love’s way in the first half. At the break, Love had already racked up a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Jefferson was held to 2 and 4. The Wolves led 56-45.

Big Al turned it up in a big way over the second half. He ended the game with 23 points and 9 rebounds. Love outdid him in these categories (26 points, 19 boards), but the eye-popping stat was that Jefferson recorded a career-high seven blocked shots!

Days after I wrote this entry, I saw a claim on Canis Hoopus that Jefferson “knew that Darko [Milicic] would go to the left-hook every time,” implying that Al’s big block night came at the expense of Milicic. Not so. According to NBA.com’s game log, Jefferson blocked Koufus three times, Love twice, and Beasley and Darko once each. Jefferson himself was blocked three times (once each by Koufus, Beasley, and Milicic).

Basketball point threeTimberwolves fans welcomed Jefferson warmly. Lots of polite applause when he was first announced, and just a smattering of (undeserved) boos. For his part, Jefferson displayed a lot of class during his visit to Minnesota. He was complimentary to the city, the team, and particularly to G.M. David Kahn before the game. He’s clearly very grateful he was dealt to a winner.

After the game, Jefferson was quoted by AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski, “I’ll always support the Timberwolves. I feel bad and know exactly what they’re going through. Believe it or not I think they’re heading in the right direction. They’ve got a great group of guys here and a lot of talent.”

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