The Three-Pointer: Much Ado About Nothing
1. Celebrating against the Celtics
There probably isn't a good reaction to tonight's last-second win over the pitiful Boston Celtics, but watching the normally inscrutable Mark Blount sweep shot-winner Ricky Davis up by his armpits and haul/drag him halfway down the court in full-blown ectasy was simply weird, and a little unsettling. The Celts had lost 17 in a row, their last victory occurring against Memphis on January 5. They had an overtime loss at Washington on January 20, but for the most part they have been thumped pretty thoroughly for the past six weeks--their previous 7 games, they've lost by 14, 7, 14, 21, 7, 12, and 14 points. Yet there was Blount cavorting like the Wolves had just clinched the playoffs, and Randy Wittman proclaiming in the post game press conference: I told you earlier that I thought this would be one of our toughest games of the year.
It was tough in the sense that if you lose back-to-back games against 12-win Memphis and 12-win Boston, the two worst teams in the NBA, you can allow yourselves no more illusions about your potential playoff hopes with two months still to play in the season. And it was tough in the sense that Blount really scrapped, really wanted this one, and that the team as a whole played with more passion than skill. But a two-point win at home versus Boston after blowing a lead on the road versus Memphis? It must be asked: Is this the best the Wolves can do?
2. Starting at Point Guard: Randy Foye
Wittman said he went with his gut in starting Randy Foye in place of Mike James for the first time this season. He could have gone with his ears, hearing the near-unanimous chorus that a change at the point was necessary. Foye's game wasn't as good as his numbers suggest--5-9 FG and a 8/1 A/TO ratio, plus 5 rebounds--but it was a nice step in the learning process and there was a willingness to share the play-generating duties with KG (10 assists) and Davis (5). It was also good to see James come in and work hard to get to the rim--he didn't make his lone FG attempt but got to the line 6 times in 13:38 of play. Ironically, James uncharacteristically played more than half the 4th quarter due to foul trouble on Foye. His inability to stay in front of either rookie Rajon Rondo or Delonte West during that crunchtime stint offered testimony to why he was demoted.
3. Quick Hits
Wittman admitted that when Trenton Hassell fouled out with 4:21 to play, he put seldom-used reserve Justin Reed in an impossible situation coming in cold to guard Paul Pierce. Reed was minus 6 over a 1:22 minute stint, turning a one-point lead into a five-point deficit.
Wittman absolutely blistered Marko Jaric for not providing proper communication on a switch that enabled Gerald Green to have all day before sinking a trey from corner and then benched him midway through the second period. But when Hassell got in foul trouble that would plague him the entire game just a few minutes later, Wittman returned to Jaric. The erronous decision (like starting Foye, Wittman claimed it came from the gut) to sub in Reed instead of Jaric after Hassell fouled out, may have been influenced by this 2Q lapse, however.
Another quiet triple-double for KG (26-11-10) and a whopping 18 points in the third period alone for Davis, along with a game-winning shot, but I really didn't think either one played that well. (See the pattern? Numbers are useless in this contest between two obviously bad teams. The Celtics just happen to be slightly more dysfunctional than Minnesota at the moment. Some players--Craig Smith and Marko Jaric for the Wolves, Kendrick Perkins for Boston--did their smaller roles justice, and Pierce was impressive (29 points in 31:44 in his second or third game back from injury. But this isn't one for anybody to be proud of; just, in the Wolves' case, thankful they added a win.