The Three-Pointer: Besting the Bucks

Categories: Timberwolves

1. Wally's Groove
What a difference when Szczerbiak is hitting that jumper, eh?

2. A shorter bench
Friday was also the first time Coach Dwane Casey gave merely seven players double-digit minutes, and I think it made a difference in the team's rhythm.

3. KG when it matters, now and into the future.
As you probably read in the dailies, KG got nailed on the chin and took six stitches for the cause, costing him exactly 5:25 worth of playing time. He proceeded to score ten straight points on his return to the court, transforming a three-point deficit into a permanent Wolves lead.

1. Wally's Groove
What a difference when Szczerbiak is hitting that jumper, eh? (BTW, I love Rob's Suburbiak sobriquet, except that, at least before his daughter was born, Wally was one of the few Wolves who lived downtown.) Nailing eight of his first nine shots, Szczerbiak enabled the Wolves to withstand a furious offensive start by the Bucks. (As KG said after the game, "It's hard when they've got guys like TJ Ford who can probe, Michael Redd who can shoot, and Magloire.") As I've said before, I believe the Wolves' strategy for this season is fairly elemental: Play tough enough defense so that you can win with KG on the low block and Wally on the wing as the meat and potatoes of your offense. Friday night was the first time this season that has happened, and resulted in a win against a quality team.

2. A shorter bench
Friday was also the first time Coach Dwane Casey gave merely seven players double-digit minutes, and I think it made a difference in the team's rhythm.

The unofficial policy of these Three-Pointers (from my end, at least) is to avoid being a chronic scold and reflexively repetitive. Folks already know I think Anthony Carter and Rashad McCants should get more minutes, for example, and they combined for 4:01 on Friday (AC was a DNP-Coach's Decision). But unless it makes a dramatic impact on the game, I'm not going to keep harping on personal preferences--better to analyze what we have in front of us. And yes, I anticipate violating this policy when frustration reigns.

That said, I was pleased to see Casey go to Eddie Griffin early when it became apparant that Olowokandi wasn't going to be able to handle Magloire in the low block. That simplified his decision to stick with EG and KG at crunch time when the Wolves needed boards. After three quarters, the Bucks were up by 3 because their 38-23 rebounding advantage had enabled them to take 12 more shots. With Kandi riding the pine in the 4th quarter, the Wolves reversed the rebounds to 12-4, outboarding Milwaukee on both their offensive and defensive glass, to the point where Bucks coach Stotts sat Magloire and went with another guard. Hats off to Eddie G. who finished with 9 rebounds, 4 blocks and 2 assists in 23:23 of play.

Casey cited his displeasure with his "second group" in the second quarter as the primary reason for the tighter substitution pattern, and called out McCants by name. Yeah, McCants was indifferent (the Wolves went minus-6 during his four minutes on the court) but Troy Hudson was even more toxic, immediately flipping into mad gunner mode when Casey rested KG. Hudson did emerge with perhaps his best all-around period of play in the 4th quarter, however, paired with Marko Jaric (who defended Michael Redd decently and chipped in 24 points) in the backcourt. The abiding point is that a shorter bench improved the focus and helped the Wolves produce their best crunch time play of the season.

3. KG when it matters, now and into the future.
As you probably read in the dailies, KG got nailed on the chin and took six stitches for the cause, costing him exactly 5:25 worth of playing time. He proceeded to score ten straight points on his return to the court, transforming a three-point deficit into a permanent Wolves lead. For the season he is now shooting a gaudy 64 percent (32-50) in the fourth quarter. Remember when idiots like Charles Barkley were saying KG was too unselfish in at crunch time? Wasn't true then, isn't true now. And now Barkley pops off about the need for the Wolves to trade KG, prompting a rash of utterly stupid rumors (KG for Jefferson and Krstic in New Jersey; KG for Rasheed and Darko in Detroit).

Just a non-friendly reminder to all the asinine pundits out there who need a cheap and easy "hot topic" to spout off upon before heading off for golf, or the bar--do a rudimentary amount of homework so you don't look too stupid. Consider that any team acquiring Garnett needs to sacrifice talent worth at least 75 percent (minus $100,000) of his $20 million salary to make any trade possible. For that to happen, Wolves owner Glen Taylor would either have to accept a truckload of short-term, but still high-priced, bullshit and a slew of draft picks and start from square one, in front of 5,000 fans a night; or the trading team would part with enough value to discourage KG away from the deal. Consider that Garnett has never, not once, even hinted at wanting a trade--on the contrary, he has steadfastly hollared about loyalty, bleeding blue and green, and being a Timberwolf for life. Has he bitched about his job or the progress of his ballclub any more than, say, Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson or Larry Bird--to pick three superstars who stayed with their franchises their entire careers--bitched about theirs? No, he hasn't.

Kudos to Strib writer Steve Aschburner, who was probably sick of being beseiged with improbable scenarios regarding a KG deal, for going to Taylor so that the owner could throw a little reasonability on these farcical rumors. That was followed by KG himself, of course, repeating for the umpteenth time that he doesn't want to be dealt. Followed by the coup de grace Friday night, of KG making like a hockey player and getting sewn up before his routine heroics.

Is it an impossibility that Garnett will be traded? Of course not. But I wouldn't do it unless KG requested it and then not unless something approaching fair value (say, KG for Jermaine O'Neal and either Artest or Tinsley from the Pacers) could be obtained. As for Barkley and all the other dimestore analysts, pay attention to Taylor when he says he'd be more apt to try for an upgrade than to dismantle this team. Which is why he puts every other pro sports franchise owner in this town to shame (with the jury still out on Zyggy).

My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Loading...