The Three-Pointer: A dozen down in a row on the road
1. Perfect timing
I want to thank the Wolves for making me look smart tonight, tossing away another game to a dreadful opponent on the same evening as my piece highlighting the prevailing dysfunction surrounding Kevin Garnett appears online (it hits the street tomorrow). The theme is that Kevin McHale has revamped the roster with players who are incompatible with the superstar. Well, in tonight's 92-97 loss to Charlotte, KG had 24 points, 22 rebounds, four assists, three steals and one turnover. In other words, he had nearly a quarter of their points and nearly half the team's 46 boards and 7 steals--and one/23rd of their turnovers.
Charlotte starts a backcourt that averages six feet tall--5-11 Brandon Knight and 6-1 Raymond Felton. The pint-sized duo thumbed their noses at the Wolves, scoring 41 points and ringing up 16 assists. Meanwhile, Mike Carroll was the latest no-name player that Ricky Davis's pretend-defense turned into a temporary stud. Carroll had 14 points in the first half.
Charlotte has the worst shooting percentage in the entire NBA. Their best player, last year's rookie of year, Emmet Okefor (whose name I just butchered, I'm pretty sure), has been out since December. They have also lost first-round draft pick Sean May for the year. They are without question one of the five worst teams in the NBA this year. The Wolves were up six with less than six minutes to play. Did anybody think they would win? Minnesota's last vic on the road was in January.
2.Hassell, McCants and Banks should get the minutes
Wolves color man Jim Peterson had a pretty good night, the vivid reality freeing him from any constraints to be too much of a homer for his squad. I wholeheartedly agree with his contention that Trenton Hassell should be slotted alongside Rashad McCants in the starting lineup, with Davis coming off the bench for instant offense. Why? Because you need to keep developing McCants as quickly as possible to provide any hope at all for the poor season ticket holders and the even poorer people who will try and get them to renew next year. Because playing Ricky Davis heavy minutes while Trenton Hassell sits on the bench makes a mockery of any words Dwane Casey speaks about the importance of defense. Davis is getting worse on defense, and by that I mean he is not trying to play defense. C'mon, Charlotte comes within three points of a hundred? Hassell even had a better game on offense than Davis tonight, despite blowing two crucial foul shots in crunch time.
But I do not agree with Peterson's continually harsh view of Marcus Banks are a viable point guard. Banks is better at the point right now than the three others on the roster--Jaric/Hudson/Carter. Pete mentions going out and getting someone like Toronto's Mike James. Great, except that will likely eat all of your midlevel exception, and this team's biggest need, in my opinion, is a decent big man, a banger who can score a little and take the pressure off KG in more ways than one. For the past two years, by far this team's most productive lineup has been when they go small. Garnett hates it but mostly endures it. Just once before KG slips well past his prime, it would be nice to see him not have to be the primary banger on this squad, but to be the Dr. J. to someone else's Moses Malone. Instead, Garnett is always Dr. Malone, Moses Erving. Keep Banks, for as little as possible. Get a big man.
3. A quick little kudo to Justin Reed
The past three or four games, the Wolves gritty 'tweener has put on the jets and sped to the hole for a layup at least once. He is, incredibly enough, sneaky-explosive. The rest of the time, he's all sweat equity. But the dude has a nice little baseline jumper, and isn't afraid to mix it up. He'll never hit what amounts to the jackpot in this league, but if there are enough smart GMs around, he should pick up CEO money in the real world--$600,000-$1M--every season from now until 2011 or so.