by Myles Brown
I’ll spare you many hackneyed parallels between the self-proclaimed ‘Mavericks’ who’ve captured the hearts of a nation of hate mongers, and their hardwood namesakes, but let it suffice to say that things just ain’t what they used to be for either of them. Which makes it particularly difficult to gauge the Timberwolves development in their 95-85 Saturday Night Loss to Dallas. Is such a close game reflective of Minnesota’s improvement, or have the Mavs regressed?
Belaboring the Point…
Something certain is that a team shooting 39 percent doesn’t deserve to win, yet the Wolves still had a chance, trailing 90-85 late in the fourth. Until he did it again. After snaring a defensive rebound with just a minute left in the game, Randy Foye immediately barreled into the lane with the confidence of a more qualified candidate, and 17,000 fans let out a collective groan as their chances caromed off the backboard. The rationale of such a move was certainly understandable. Another stop and conversion would be needed so the sooner the Wolves scored, the better. But the fact that Foye didn’t consider any other options for a quick score-drive and kick to Miller or McCants, quick post entry or pick and roll with Jefferson-and decided to take the game into his own hands for his final miss of a 3-14 night, is quite disheartening.
Wolves faithful want to see Foye excel and management needs to see it. The rationale of such a move was certainly understandable at the time, but the further we get from their 2006 Draft Day trade the more it hurts to imagine Brandon R.O.Y. in Minnesota. Especially since the success of this year’s swap of O.J. Mayo–another future All-Star–for Kevin Love is largely predicated on Foye becoming a trustworthy guard. And there were signs of that on Saturday. He fed teammates through traps and out of pick and rolls for six assists on the night with only one turnover. But just as with his backup, Sebastian Telfair, every missed shot that makes the defense pay a little less attention to him and tighten up more on his teammates may as well be considered a turnover, if not a more egregious violation.
My contention is still that Bassy will develop a jumper before Randy will ever hone the requisite skills of a point guard, which Telfair has in spades. And now that he’s served his suspension, Randy Wittman has a a decision to make between the two. Because the rationale of such a move was certainly understandable at the time, but currently the future of the franchise is dependent on the development path of a player on a road to nowhere.
FYI: Foye went 0-10 with 6 assists and 5 turnovers last night as the OKC Carpetbaggers captured their first win. I’m just sayin’…
Raise Your Hand (Above Your Head Please…)
Of course the blame should be more evenly spread for this loss. The normally nimble fingers of Mike Miller and Al Jefferson couldn’t find the touch and they combined for an awful 9-26 from the field. Jefferson continually and effortlessly maneuvered through the Mavs frontline, but failed to finish several times at the basket. He continued to fire away, his shots becoming gradually more forced, and with each subsequent trip upcourt Al’s frustration became more evident. Compounding his difficulties, Jefferson appeared to jam one of his fingers into Erick Dampier on a pick early in the second half and flexed his hand several times in the following moments. He would go 2-5 from that point on. Whether this was due to his discomfort or was by design is unclear, but it’s difficult to imagine him not wanting the ball down the stretch. Regardless, it’s even more difficult to imagine him repeating such a lowly performance anytime soon.
As noted, there were some bright spots for Minnesota. Corey Brewer continues to struggle with his shot, but has not only strengthened his rebounding, he’s also a noticeably smarter player. He recognizes offensive opportunities quicker and makes better decisions with the basketball, frequently finding teammates in scoring position. That jumper may never develop, but with his defensive tenacity and comfort finishing in the open court, Brewer should become a fine asset to the team off the bench.
Rashad McCants played a perfectly subdued game, with 18 points on a scant 8 shots, finishing with +4 on the evening. Though he still may have eyes for the starting lineup, Shaddy seems to have temporarily accepted his role as an instant offense reserve. He willingly looked for teammates, acknowledged and corrected mistakes and was a positive influence on the court. If he can continue to ignore any selfish temptations and incorporate himself into the offense, his arsenal could become even more dangerous. His teammates won’t always have such of nights from the floor and when they’re clicking inside and out, the defense will be stretched, the driving lanes should be that much bigger, and the double teams should come less. Giving a player who can score from anywhere more room to operate may be the key to maximizing the potential of such a talented offensive unit.
‘That One‘ had a decent night in limited action. And told me to tell Ryan he said Hi. Such a nice boy. He really is one of the good ones.