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Saturday, December 13th, 2008 at 2:38 pm  |  12 responses

Game Notes: Spurs at T-Wolves

The Reverse Fix?

by Myles Brown

The monotonous nature of the NBA’s regular season is well documented. Players continually remind the media that they don’t look any further than the current game on the schedule, lest they frivolously surrender a win that could cost them playoff positioning come April. But the fast breaks and flailing limbs of December aren’t always so mindful of these truths. Especially when facing a team that has all but been eliminated from the playoff hunt.

In light of this, it has been practically an impossible task to pinpoint the cause of the Wolves troubling second halves. Quarters in which Minnesota failed to score 20 points were an inevitability under Randy Wittman and the first of Kevin McHale’s tenure reared its ugly head Friday night. Discounting a first quarter in which both teams posted a measly 19, the Timberwolves bounded out of the locker room tied at 41 only to ‘score’ 16 more points in the third on 27 percent from the floor. An average quarter of 25 for the visiting Spurs gave them a nine-point advantage heading into the fourth, and Tony Parker secured the victory with 16 of his 17 in the final stanza.

So are the Wolves putting forth their best effort early only to fall flat late? Or are their opponents simply not taking them seriously until the second half? Given the circumstances, it could possibly be both. The recent coaching change and shift in offensive philosophy has certainly lit a fire under the players and may have made the team slightly difficult to scout in the early stages of this experiment. But once the ball is rolling, it’s also clear that Minnesota’s foes have had little trouble adjusting after intermission Jay-Z & ColdPlay-The Reverse Fix while the Wolves have been getting their own way.

It’s tough to blow a team out from tipoff ’til the final buzzer. Even the League’s lowliest franchises are comprised of professional athletes. Sometimes they’re making everything in sight and sometimes a great team just can’t catch a break. There are times when both are simply awful. But when time is short and the air is thin in these pressure-packed arenas, the great teams breathe much easier. Because preparation and experience have not only led them to believe they can win, they expect to. And thus, the proverbial ‘switch’ is flipped. Now in their second year of rebuilding, the Wolves learned they can compete, but they still don’t expect to win.

In that fateful third quarter, several shots–primarily layups–rimmed out and more than few fouls went uncalled. Such things are always frustrating, but conventional wisdom says to push forward. Kevin McHale echoed those sentiments to his squad postgame:

“It’s happened with this team all year long. We missed a bunch of layups and everybody just starts hanging their heads. You can’t get (a shot) much better than layups and we’re missing them, but I know those will go in. The hanging of the head we can’t have and that’s what happened. I think we started feeling sorry for ourselves. You’re thinking ‘Oh I’ve made these shots my whole life and I can’t make one now,’ and you’re running back (on defense). That’s unacceptable. What that led to was a mental breakdown. You can’t allow some misfortune on the offensive end to allow you to give in on the defensive end.”

On the defensive end, the Wolves gave and gave….and gave all night. Initially it was thought to be a matter of strategy, considering that Tony Parker hung 55 around their collective necks in their last meeting, as Minnesota continually left shooters in the corners to help on penetration. But McHale assured the press that wasn’t the case in emphasizing the need for focus and discipline from his team. “No. Not at all. We did it, but that wasn’t The Hitchhicker - Step into my office the gameplan,” McHale said.

One thing that is almost certain, probably to Randy Wittman’s delight, is that Rashad McCants’ days in the Target Center are numbered. One thing I’ve become accustomed to in this building is booing. There are several variances of displeasure expressed by Wolves fans, from chiding the refs on missed calls to an overt reminder that they’re actually paying to watch this debacle. Generally speaking though, it’s been about as polite as booing can get. It’s not like we’re Philadelphians. But beginning with Shaddy’s first misfire, there was little patience from the crowd until a crescendo was reached after a missed breakaway layup which elicited a chorus of boos that lasted half a minute. This was not displeasure or disappointment, but outright disdain.

After beginning the year with a new found discretion in his shot selection and team centric attitude, Shaddy’s clashes with Wittman resurfaced a careless and petulant demeanor that stifled his undeniable talent. And on a team with few-if any-swingmen besides him, this has come at their detriment. With Corey Brewer gone for the season and Mike Miller hampered by an injured ankle, McCants was given a new coach and the starting spot he’s coveted for so long. He didn’t do much with it. In his last three games, McCants shot a combined 8-36 from the floor. I’d honestly be surprised if he rung in 2009 as a Timberwolf.

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  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    its 09. you know what that means, another spurs title. yea!!!! i really hope we get spurs vs. celtics in the finals. timmy vs. kg. it will be one of the greatest.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    this isnt as much game notes as whining by a l-wolves fan. whoever thought a franchise’s glory days would have consisted of alot of wally sczzersaazxlbiaakkadz

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    and who the hell wrote this????

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    Hi.

  • http://mundoalbiceleste.blogspot.com john

    Tonight both teams from the Southwest Division had big night for themselves. A big shout out to the Big 3s from Spurs and the Rockets. Looks like we finally have a great rival for the Lakers in the West. Though it may be a bit too early to predict such things, I’ll just keep my faith in both teams.

    The Spurs were once again riding on their ace on the bench. When Manu gets in he just never stops delivering. Basket after basket and he makes it look so simple. The energy that he brought today was truly remarkable.

    As a fan of Argentina’s basketball, I was more happy to hear about another Texas side big performance. The Rockets were just too much for the Warriors who had no answer against them.

    They might have tried to stop T-Mac but there was Yao. They might have tried to stop Yao but they forgot there was Scola.

    I’ll leave you to check out preview from today’s NBA action, especially on the Spurs/Wolves and Rockets/Warriors game. Then you can share your feedback with us. Will truly appreciate it.

    http://mundoalbiceleste.blogspot.com/2008/12/nba-news-big-3s-of-texas.html

  • http://DCtoBC.com modi

    lolol.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    By the way: Zach Randolph dropped 38 and 11 in a WIN against the Blazers.
    Too bad some of you haters think he’s bad.

  • WhaHuh

    Al Jefferson

  • WhaHuh

    Kevin really has that “rebound sense” but Lve has no O at all!!!!

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    max airington!, i didnt know you were a l-wolves season ticket holder

  • http://where-basketball-b-longs.blogspot.com/ B. Long

    If the Spurs played the Celtics in the finals 3 people outside of Boston and San Antonio would watch.

  • http://twentythreenine.blogspot.com Russ Bengtson

    Whoever the Wolves new dealmaker is (I forget) needs to call Michael Jordan and remind him that Shaddy is a Tar Heel. Ka-ching!

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