One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

A good heckler sitting nearby can make a bad game fun. A bad heckler can make a bad game nearly unbearable. Unfortunately, I had the latter sitting a few seats away from me at the Target Center on Friday.

Actually, this picture sums things up better than I ever could.

“Hey! Hey! Where’s LeBron? Hey Kyrie! Take your talents to South Beach! Hey guys! Where’s LeBron?!”

This continued through three quarters. Antawn Jamison finally turned, looked straight at him and, with an expression of calm disdain, pointed to the scoreboard.

“We’re winning,” he said, simply. And indeed they were. Convincingly.

Honestly, I have NOTHING good to say about the Timberwolves Friday night. All the hustle, enthusiasm, and excitement they played with earlier in the week against Dallas and San Antonio? Utterly absent. To better represent the effort the Wolves put forth, I really should stop all of my sentences half way through. But I’ll do the next best thing: a bullet point recap.

  • Kevin Love may look like the lone bright spot for Minnesota, going off for 29 points and 14 rebounds, but honestly SOMEBODY had to score. The depressing thing is that Love has been the only player who can create a shot. He had a couple really nice post moves today and hit a few threes.
  • For the second straight night, the Wolves simply could not score the ball. In the last nine quarters, the Wolves have topped 25 just once: the 4th against Memphis. Somewhere along the line, Minnesota seems to have forgotten how to shoot. The Wolves were 4-20 from behind the arc Friday night.
  • One tell tale sign that the game was going badly was the way Adelman shuffled through his lineups in an attempt to find a group that would work together. Up until Friday night, Adelman allowed lineups to play together quite a bit in an attempt to work out their own kinks, but after a disastrous third quarter that saw a 7 point lead stretch to 14 with mostly the same lineup the whole way through, Adelman threw consistency to the winds and started shuffling players like a magician with a deck of cards.
  • I’ve taken my fair share of cheap shots at Kyrie Irving from the safety of Twitter but he looked really good tonight. Sure, he turned the ball over some, but he played with confidence, shot well, directed the team, and didn’t seem much like a rookie. His attitude on the bench was good as well, standing and cheering for his teammates and handing out towels when players sat down. Just seems to be a good rookie who knows his role and is keen to play it.
  • At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Anthony Tolliver took a three that missed badly but must appeared to go in to the PA announcer, who roared “ANTHONY TOLLIVER FOR THREEEEEEE!” The crowd around me cheered, but a confused official crew halted play.
    “COME ON! I’M PAYING FOR THIS! GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER!” screamed the incredibly clever heckler, who was apparently desperate to continue witnessing a rather awful basketball game.
    The officials went to the replay monitors and checked to see what had happened.
    “It’s because the Cavs didn’t take the ball out of bounds after Tolliver hit the three,” said the heckler, wisely.
  • Beasley missed badly on a long two in the first half (BAD BEAS!) but he ran back down the court cursing himself and didn’t take another truly bad shot all game. He seemed a little more self aware. On one hand, this is a problem because he isn’t a good passer, so when he drives and looks to pass he often turns it over. He should just try to take the ball to the basket and draw a foul. But it’s encouraging to see him recognizing his mistakes and taking steps to correct them. After some early poor shooting, he cut down on his shot attempts, only putting up 12 for the game. Unfortunately, any future progression may take a rather serious pause: a sprained foot suffered late in the 4th may sideline him for a while, according to Jerry Zgoda’s tweets post game.
  • Speaking of Beasley, does anybody else cringe a little every time a player hits a contested long two? When Derrick Williams hit a very difficult shot in the first half, getting fouled and still draining a 20-footer, I was honestly worried he was just going to start gunning from that area. I think it’s Beas who has conditioned me to think that way.
  • The Cavaliers have a really strange generational gap. They have lots of veterans and a few young guys, but very few players in between. It will be interesting to see if the veterans influence the rookies positively or if a gap develops between the two through a long season.
  • Barea would have REALLY helped tonight. Minnesota desperately needed his ability to split the defense and get to the rim. The offense broke down time and time again because the entire team was made up of shooters who couldn’t get to the hoop against Cleveland’s bruising front line. Having Barea’s driving ability would have opened up the floor considerably.
  • If you told me two weeks ago that the Wolves would come out of their first seven games 2-5, I wouldn’t have been surprised, but I would have assumed that the wins would have been against Milwaukee and Cleveland. If you told me that the Wolves were going to beat Dallas and San Antonio, I would have been really encouraged. But somehow after seeing Minnesota’s performance tonight, I’m not encouraged at all. A bad effort. A bad outing. Let’s sincerely hope it’s an anomaly.

About Jonah Steinmeyer

Been a Wolves fan for probably way too long to be considered a sane human anymore. An avid golfer in my free time. I cheer for Minnesota sports but live in Florida.

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