Abbreviated Three-Pointer: A Golden State of Recovery
I am on a deadline that gives one renewed appreciation for the word and thus had to catch tonight's blowout of the Warriors on television. Before I return to my odious task, I'll throw out a few quick things and let you good folks have it from there. I promise to tackle Friday's Memphis game sometime over the weekend.
1. No D in Nelson
Don Nelson's teams never play defense. That's the biggest cavaet to the latest Wolves's personality switch, in which they roared back from the offensive somnambulance of 77 points in Houston to ring up 121, replete with 38 assists, including the ten that enabled Kevin Garnett to have one of the quietest triple-doubles I've ever seen.
But maybe KG was muted because for a change he was just a cog in the flow. Mike James still can't play defense, as evidenced by Jasikevicius's 20 points and 8 assists, but #13 did push the ball--igniting that vaunted "flow" offense we've heard so much about from two coaches now--with relatively daring passes and asserting himself much better than he has in weeks, if not months. Ricky Davis and Mark Blount actually created marvelous spacing in the half court sets by, respectively, bombing away from outside (Davis was 5-6 from beyond the arc) and taking it to the hole early and hard (Blount drew two quick fouls on Biedrins and the big kid was never the same after that). Hassell was Hassell, filling voids like water. KG was able to just play: 17 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists. Against a Don Nelson team, last in the NBA in points allowed, natch.
2. Jaric: Trust him or trade him?
If Detroit or any other team has been scouting Marko Jaric lately, his stock should be rising. The guy really can do a bit of everything, a real handyman for the right team, so long as you don't ask him to do too much or compel him to become self-conscious. Which is ironic, because Jaric is one of the most self-conscious players I've ever seen. A nagging part of me continues to want to see him get time at the point, or at the very least handle the ball a lot when Foye is in the game. They are a good pair because Foye thrives on pressure (or looks like it even when he's screwing up) and Jaric thrives on the absence of it. Which is why another nagging part of me wants to remember Jaric's crunchtime foibles. Besides, it would be nice to have more than two guys on the roster taller than 6-8, and Jaric should be able to fetch another one before the trading deadline in two weeks.
3. Quick hits
The best game yet for McCants, but man is he rusty. Still, he is already prizing defense, making him about 4 months ahead of last year's pace. J-Pete correctly noted that almost all his shots are short; I'd add that they don't seem to have any arc either, which makes you worry about leg strength. But it was fun to see him nail a trey and then come back with one of his patented left-handed jams.
Was it a good thing that Wittman backtracked on his postgame snit in Houston and essentially blamed himself for the Wolves's putrid effort? Well, James and Davis and Blount sure turned it around for at least this one game. But what's the longterm impact of this new spin, this idea that it is up to the coach to be more specific about what he wants? Are they kissing ass in the media only to be kicking ass in practices and behind the scenes? Hope so. And while I don't know if I'd go so far as say the Wolves should dump Ricky Davis, as Souhan did in this morning's Strib, I thought the timing was apt and the sentiment understandable. In short, exactly the kind of column a relatively casual hoops fan with a huge platform should be writing.
Troy Hudson back to DNP-CD. I guess it is poetic justice for the long long leash he was accorded for the past few seasons. But if James can't defend and Jaric gets dealt, I can see him and Davis setting up outside the arc, KG or Blount in the high post, the other on the low block, Hassell or Foye as the cutter and isolation threat. Just often enough to keep Foye and James from getting complacent.