No matter how good you are — or how bad and injury-riddled your opposition may be — it’s nearly impossible to overcome turning the ball over 19 times in one game. Whether it was a lack of focus or just a bad case of the sweaty palms, the Wolves failed to maintain control of the ball on the offensive end and the Nuggets’ defense capitalized on it by scoring 22 points off of the Wolves’ petty and frustrating mistakes.
It took a little while for the Wolves’ offense to click — thanks to a few early turnovers — but they soon started stroking it. At one point, I looked up and legitimately asked myself, “Could the Wolves really shoot over 80-percent in this quarter?” Of course they didn’t, but that sure would’ve been fun. But what really puzzled me was why our lead was so small when we were shooting so well.
And that’s how turnovers affect a game. It doesn’t matter how well you shoot from the field if you can’t make the most of all your trips down the court. And most of the turnovers were stupid mistakes. Undesirable and mindless passes; simple ball-handling woes from our point guard himself; even routine in-bounds passes were botched. Little mistakes like these add up and, in the end, can lead to defeat.
After going into halftime with a solid lead, the Wolves came out looking a bit sluggish. The turnover-game continued and our shooting wasn’t nearly as hot as it was in the first half. Thanks to the efforts of Martell Webster, this game should’ve been a real blowout in Denver’s favor. He scored 17 points and was doing just about everything right while bringing some serious energy to the court as well. But it just wasn’t enough. Chauncey Billups couldn’t miss and just about seemed to shut the crowd up every time the Wolves gained a single ounce of momentum.
It just wasn’t our night, and yet another game we should’ve won slipped through our weak grasp. It’s really hard to describe this kind of game without bringing up the same old song and dance we’ve grown accustomed to all season long. We should’ve won this game.
Very quickly, I want to swing my attention to the play of Mike Beasley. This season, Beasley has quickly established himself as a “finisher” on this team; He’s dropped a few game-winners, but I mean finisher in the sense that he’s been able to command the attention of the defense but still manages to complete the play. He’s a vocal leader that seems to motivate those around him. He may be a little nuts at times, but he seems to snap back into it and focus on the task at hand. Beasley’s 33 points tonight should be a resounding message heard around the NBA: This guy is going to be one of the best scorer’s in the game for years to come. And let me remind you, we got him for a second round draft choice.
Although Beasley’s defensive game is under Rambis’ scrutiny, who are we to care when he drops 33 on a nightly basis? Even going beyond his scoring talents, he’s starting to find his teammates for open-looks as well. (He had four assists tonight and seven against New Orleans). You can see in his eyes that he’s starting to get it; things are just clicking for him in his head and he’s found a groove. He understands that when defenders play off of him to shoot a jumper. (Note: He may just be one of the best mid-range jump shooters in the game, right next to Kobe. Not kidding.) He understands that when a defender plays up in his face, arms a flailing, to shimmy around them and take it strong to the rack. A certain intelligence has taken over his game, and matched with his ruthless offensive ability, he’s showing the league he’s nearly unstoppable.
He’s 21 years old, and if you don’t believe what I’m saying, I beg you to continue to watch his game, and his numbers, grow over the next three seasons. He could be averaging over 25 a game in no time. Just wait and see.
Anyways, that’s all for now. The Wolves let one go that they really should have had. A Melo-less Nuggets squad is one thing, but when they’re missing three starters and a solid sixth man, well, you should really beat up on them. Next up the Wolves bring in the new year with a squab against the New Jersey Nets, our lowly counterpart of the Eastern Conference. Needless to say, this is another one of those “Should win” ball games.