GH And Petey's Timberwolves Blog

Saturday, December 04, 2004

T-Wolves vs. Clippers

Now that I'm settled in Southern California I will not get many opportunities to watch the T-Wolves. Which is why I was so excited when I realized they were playing tonight vs. the Clippers at the Staples Center. This Clippers team is not that of yesteryear (or yesterdecade). I have only watched them a couple of times this year but they really seem like a poor man's Pistons. Each player knows his role, synergy abounds and they are gritty until the end. So, I knew that the visiting Timberwolves would have their work cut out for them considering it was already their 10th road game of the season (with only 6 so far at home) and the second game in as many nights.

Luckily the Clippers sucked to start the game and I really thought they might be channeling some of their past squads to help the T-wolves out. Unfortunately, it didn't last and the Timberwolves found themselves in a huge dogfight needing many critical plays from KG and the crew in order to get to overtime and then win convincingly in the extra period.

Highlights of the game:

Those wacky Clippers announcers!
Okay, so I know hometeam announcers are *supposed* to be somewhat biased but these guys were pretty funny. They did everything short of yelling 'go clippers' every five seconds in their broadcast. I do have to say they were entertaining, made some fairly astute points and gave KG, Eddie, and Sam major props as they were burying the hapless Clips. BUT they didn't even finish the answer to their trivia question! The color guy points out KG was in the top 10 in the league in points/rebounds/assists and that only five players have ever done that in an entire season. So, the play by play guy goes on a guessing spree that starts near the beginning of the second quarter and they only get to 4 out fo the 5 players! Not only that, but the one of the four he needed help getting was Elgin Baylor, general manager of the Clippers. Anyway, the other three: Oscar Robinson (a gimme, only player to *average* a triple double for a year), Wilt Chaimberlin (yeah, apparently he passed sometimes), and I think Wes Unseld (I'm not sure about this 3rd player).

Spreewell's Overtime Trash
Sometimes when you're lucky you can hear a player faintly call out 'oh shit' or something near the hoop when a shot goes up due to the miked hoops. However, very rarely can you hear whole phrases and at a high volume. So, when Spreewell fouled Magette late in overtime when the Wolves were up by 7, the announcers were mentioning his foul and the camera panned in to set up Spree saying very loudly and very clearly, 'SUCK MY DICK.' Great stuff! Almost as good as Sam Cassell motioning how huge his balls were during the playoffs last year. Anyway, to cap it off, when the Wolves next inbound the ball and Spree is fould, you can hear him say (not quite as loudly) when he's at the free throw line, 'Kiss my ass motherfucker.' I think it's good to see Spree this fired up at the end of a won game and as long as he doesn't choke Flip, it's all good.

Eddie Griffin's errant pass and big shot

So Eddie is on the court with just under 3 minutes to play in the 4th, Wolves down by 3. The Wolves are swinging the ball until Eddie swings it one man too many and just loops a pass to his left from the top of the arc one. No one was anywhere near his pass. However, he got the next defensive rebound leading to a Sammy special delivery 3 pointer. Then, in overtime he nails the big three that puts the Wolves ahead for good. I like that Flip stuck with him and how Eddie continues to play fairly unphazed even though he has by far the least amount of experience on the team.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Offense Sells Tickets...

...but defense wins championships.

You rarely see defensive highlights on ESPN (except the occasional block), but it was fun to watch the Wolves play D in the fourth quarter.

They took off out of the gate, gaining a huge lead in the first quarter. They looked like a championship contender, and Golden State looked like they didn't belong in the NBA. Sam started off strong (and continued to play well for the entire game). Then, Troy Murphy got hot, and all of a sudden the Warriors were winning.

They took a 3 point lead into the fourth quarter, and then the Wolves defense took over. Everybody was getting involved. Spree had a nice steal on a telegraphed pass, KG had a couple of monster boards (one which he then chunked down the court to Wally for a three point play) as well as a block at the end that pretty much sealed the deal. Of course, let's not forget Eddie Griffin.

He had a solid (but quieter) night than last game. Of course, I wouldn't expect him to play every night like he did last night. He made some noise at the end though, with a quality block (and another good block that won't show up in the stat sheet due to the fact that it came after a shooting foul had been called on someone else).

Somebody out there must have been reading my posts because the email question during tonight's broadcast was "Why doesn't Eddie Griffin start?" Wolves announcer Jim Peterson had a good response. He said that basically, because of his past and because he's so young, Flip doesn't want to put too much pressure on him. I think this is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. It's not like baseball where the starters play the entire game. He can come off the bench and still put in a lot of minutes. He put in 27 minutes tonight (3 shy of his season high).

Of course, if he keeps playing the way he has been, it won't be long until we do see him as a starter. Flip will gradually ease him into more minutes, then when he feels the time is right, will put him in as a starter. I couldn't tell you exactly how long it will be, but I'd be surprised if it didn't happen within the next month. It wouldn't even surprise me if I turned on the game on Friday and saw him in there!

Note: I apologize for the crapiness and lack of insight in this post. I'm working on something more insightful, but it's 4 AM and I've been busy all night but I wanted to put something up before I went to sleep.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Sam's Back!

I guess Sam Cassell must have been reading my blog. I'm sure he was looking at it the other day and then said to himself "Damn, this guy's right. I really need to step it up before they give Troy the nod for starting point guard." Yep, I'm pretty sure that's how it went down.

Last night Sam went off for 25 points and 6 assists (He had 11/8 in only 26 minutes against Memphis on Friday). They're not exactly monster games, but they're back to the kind of solid performances Wolves fans have grown to expect from Sam. Also, he seems to have his confidence back (I was sort of doubting this for a while too). Near the end of last night’s game, he hit a 17-foot jumper that just about sealed the game for the Wolves. I half expected him to run up the court doing his "I've got huge balls" gesture that he busted out against the Kings during the playoffs last year.

Another great sign I saw last night was the play of Eddie Griffin (20 points, 9 boards, 4/5 3pt last night). I knew he'd make a solid contribution to the lineup at the beginning of the season, and know we're already starting to see him come around. Although his natural position is forward, I think the Wolves should start giving him more time at center. He's about 6'10", so he's a little on the short side for an NBA center, but he more that makes up for it with his long limbs and athleticism. He's a great shot blocker on Defense, and he can shoot the 3 on offense. Having a center that can shoot the 3 could really be a boost for the Wolves on offense, as it would force the opposing center out of the paint and give Garnett some extra space to work his magic. Not only have his numbers been solid, but he's also shown a lot of hustle and been making amazing plays on D, which don't show up on the stat sheet. Plus, let's take a look at Eddie, compared to the other centers on the T-wolves roster:

Ervin Johnson
: He's getting old and isn't going to get any better. He's a solid backup center who plays good D, but is otherwise pretty much a stiff.

Mark Madsen: This guy is the definition of overachiever. He probably has less natural talent that just about anybody else in the NBA, but makes up for it with extreme hustle. He's a solid offensive rebounder, good defender, and a spark plug for the Wolves. However, he's been prone to missing wide-open lay-ups.

Michael Olowokandi: If you somehow injected Madsen's hustle into Kandi, he'd be one of the dominant centers in the NBA. Unfortunately, he got stuck with the personality he's got. As much as Madsen is an overachiever, Kandi is an underachiever. I'm not gonna say that I'm giving up on him quite yet, but it's time for him to start showing me something.

Eddie Griffin: At 6'10" he's only 2 inches shorter than Ervin or Kandi, but an inch taller than Madson. He doesn't have quite the intensity of Mad Dog, but quite intense but also under control. There were some questions about his past coming into the season, but so far, he's been nothing but a perfect gentleman since coming over to the Wolves. He doesn't have quite as high an upside as Kandi, but is more likely to realize his potential. He also plays D as well, or probably even better than Ervin.

When you compare Eddie to the other options, you can see he takes all the good traits of our other centers and combines them into one. The biggest weakness I've seen in him (which was exposed a little in our blow out win against Memphis) was that his low post moves don't seem to be too great. However, I think this is something he can definitely improve on. As I've said before, his natural position is forward, so he probably hasn't done as much in the low post as we would have liked by now. Plus, he's got Kevin "Slippery Eel" McHale to teach him how to do it.