Webster and Flynn's return gets spoiled; Wolves lose to Warriors 108-99

Golden State Warriors' Monta Ellis, left drives past Minnesota Timberwolves' Corey Brewer during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010 in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo)

Monta Ellis doesn't need Stephen Curry

Those Warriors are pesky. Just when you think the Wolves had them backed into a corner with no escape route, they hop aboard the Monta Ellis-express and sail their way to a smooth victory.

What should’ve been the story of the night — Martell Webster and Jonny Flynn shine in their game back from injuries and lead the Wolves to a victory — was toiled thanks to magnificent play from Ellis and terrific three-point shooting from the Warriors.

The Wolves came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, which seems to be the case in recent games. Lately they just find a groove in the first quarter that doesn’t seem comparable, making them run away with the score. Darko Milicic was hot and Mike Beasley was firing on all cylinders, especially from mid-range. This continued all the way into the second quarter, where the Wolves actually took hold of a commanding 12-point lead. It seemed unsurmountable at the time, but you never count out a team that has Ellis, a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve and let’s his game do all the talking for him.

Ellis took charge and led the Warriors back into the game igniting a 12-2 run late in the second. And he didn’t stop there. With the scored tied at 51, Ellis hesitated at the perimeter with the ball in his hands and unleashed a 26-foot bomb with no doubt in his mind — as well as mine — that it would go in. Swoosh, and the Wolves lose their lead going into halftime.

From there, things didn’t get much better. Ellis continued his valiant effort and even got his teammates involved, most notably Reggie Williams. They started firing, and hitting, the three-pointer at will and the Wolves’ defense grew tired and porous as a result. Once the defense was spread out enough, Ellis started beating them off the dribble, slicing through the defense like a knife through butter and attacking the hoop with animosity like he had been all game long.

Ellis was essentially unstoppable tonight. He really is one of my favorite players in the league and probably my favorite to watch play live because of how creative he is and the energy he devotes to a game. The combination of his superior strength and freakishly athletic abilities was too much too handle, especially when he had poor Luke Ridnour guarding him all night. Ridnour was out-matched all night long and paid the price for it. He became frustrated on the offensive end throwing up unneeded shots and only made one out of nine of them. His assist total — 11 for the night — was impressive but it doesn’t make up for what he lost shooting the ball wildly and inefficiently. He honestly just looked like a lost puppy out there looking for someone to pick his ass up and cuddle him.

Kevin Love had a subpar performance, one of the firsts in a very long time. He still got his double-double recording 13-14 but got his 13 points off of a dismal 33 percent FG%. His now infamous three-point shot was contested nicely by the Warriors D as he failed to knock one down, and couldn’t get anything going inside thanks to some tough love on the inside on the part of the Warriors front line and the refereeing crew.

All in all this just wasn’t our night. I was, however, impressed with Jonny Flynn and Martell Webster in their return back to game action. Flynn didn’t do a whole lot, but you couldn’t help but cheer for the guy when he was on the court. After he hit his first three-pointer, he simply jogged back down the court with that smile from ear-to-ear that so many fans have fallen infatuated with. As for Webster, he couldn’t have done anything wrong tonight, in my eyes. He plays like that well-seasoned veteran we need because it seems as if he does everything right, or at least he did tonight. Like I said earlier today, if he keeps these kinds of performances up, we might see Wes Johnson fall into a reserve role as Webster moves into the starting lineup. It could ultimately benefit the team as a whole in the future.

The Wolves continue their road trip tomorrow night with a game at Phoenix, and the tumultuous road trip doesn’t end there: The T-Pups will then head to Portland, Denver and L.A. shortly after that. For a team that’s only won one game so far on the road this season, you can consider this stretch a real test of patience, will and determination.

Martell Webster: How does he fit in?

What does Webster's return mean to this team?

He’s healthy enough to play. We saw big things from him this preseason. He’s been highly touted ever since high school.

But will he live up to the standards?

Martell Webster’s return to this team could either mean one of two things; 1) The Wolves are receiving a huge boost out of the blue and a guy that could potentially crack the starting lineup given a few great performances; Or 2) Yet another souped-up Corey Brewer that will be nothing more than a 15-minute-per-game role player.

I never followed Webster very closely during his time in Portland for a few reasons. Apparently he was ready to come into the league as a high schooler and really dominate but we never saw it. He soon became overshadowed by the stardom of Brandon Roy and lost playing time that way. And finally he started losing even more playing time to the likes of Rudy Fernandez — Ouch. It’s easy to say that he’s just never lived up to the hype and became a simple bystander of the NBA’s hierarchy — If you can’t play, then get the hell out of here.

But perhaps with any ounce of hype still there, Webster could slowly start to develop here in ‘Sota. We’ve seen it in the likes of Mike Beasley and his newfound attitude this year which has led to nothing but good things for himself and the Wolves. Minnesota is a place of player development. David Kahn said that he wanted Minnesota to be a place of player development and growth when he first arrived. Players can come here to slow down, get a drip of themselves and figure out their role as an NBA player. I really didn’t understand the reasoning behind that dream but it becomes clear as day when you consider Beasley’s season.

So what are we going to see from Webster when he returns — hopefully Tuesday night at Golden State — and what kind of contribution is he really going to make for the rest of the season?

Of the two reasons I listed above, I’m going to take the middle-ground — I’m such a copout. Webster’s going to improve our overall strength, speed and athleticism, something that Wayne Ellington — the guy he’ll steal minutes from upon returning — has failed to do in his role. Webster is a 6-foot-7 wing and built like a bull but can run down the court just as well as any guard could. His natural tendency is to stalk the three-point line, where he’s shot a career 37-percent from. He plays hard-nosed defense and, thanks to his big frame, is a pretty successful defender.

All of those attributes I listed there similarly describe the game of Corey Brewer. Sorta scary, ain’t it? While I do think that a lot of their game’s have similar elements, Webster is going to produce more, but the key here is that he’s going to do it a lot more efficiently than Brewer.

Brewer has a dismal career PER of 10.73. The easiest way to sum that poor score up is to tell you that the league average this season is 15. Despite not playing yet this season, which does skew the scales considerably, Webster has a career 11.53 PER. The 0.8 difference may not look like much now, but once Webster starts accumulating minutes and producing, the differential should increase.

The reason I believe that differential will increase is coupled with the reasons I already told you why Webster is better than Brewer: He’s bigger, stronger, faster and, a characteristic that cannot be measured by statistics, smarter. Webster makes good decisions on the court. He’s a unique veteran player in that he’s only 24-years old but already has five seasons under his belt. He rarely commits turnovers, (1.31 career average) which is something that Brewer has struggled with throughout his career given his ball-handling abilities. Ultimately, he’s the veteran-type player the Wolves have been looking for that just seems to do all of the little things right and does it as efficiently as possible.

The facts are laid out in front of us. Now all that has to happen is for Webster to actually come back and see what he can contribute to this team. If in fact he returns and is a 10-ppg player that squeezes his way into the starting lineup, then you can consider this team to be a lot better, and I mean a 25-30 win season may not be out of the question. Even if he just returns as a 15-mpg role player, we should all be content with that too. Because at this point in the game, anything will help this inconsistent bunch.