Timberwolves 102, Bobcats 96: Blogcat's Take
The Bobcats and Timberwolves went at it on New Year’s Day, although maybe they should have temporarily changed their names to the Lab Rats vs. the Guinea Pigs in honor of this being first game featuring the new/old leather ball. Now that it’s run out of regular season NFL games to compete with head-to-head, what’s the NBA scheduling department to do? Ah-ha! Compete in the same time slots as major NCAA Bowl games, of course—good thinking, NBA! Fortunately, my college team, Miami, had already taken the illustrious Computers Bowl in bustling Boise, Idaho, so I had no conflict of interest here.
Before the tip-off, word on the street was that Gerald Wallace’s injury would only cost him about a week, meaning the shoulder separation was of the Kid Rock/Pamela Anderson sort rather than the Mike Tyson/Robin Givens kind. Jeff McInnis is also still a New Jersey Net, although I keep thinking that’s going to change soon, considering Melvin Ely didn’t play again last night—unless of course Coach Bickerstaff thought it would be simply impossible for Ely to add anything to the 4-point/5-rebound/11-foul combined brilliance of Jake Voskuhl and Primoz Brezec. I know I’m probably hanging too much on McInnis, but I can’t help fantasizing him as this year’s Tim Thomas.
As for the game itself, the Bobcats led at the end of every quarter except the fourth. The Cats blew a 20-point lead again, but at least they had the common decency to lose in regulation this time. Still, it was a frustrating night, considering we had an 11-point lead to start the fourth before unleashing a staggering array of turnovers to let the Wolves back in. Check out this series of possessions with 11 minutes remaining, which I will introduce to you in chronological order of appearance: offensive foul, 24-second violation, lost ball out of bounds, traveling violation, offensive foul—there’s your ballgame...
Adding to my annoyance: (1) the ridiculous Minnesota television announcers crediting their team’s defense after every Bobcats blunder—no matter how unforced—from missed open layups to palming calls; I’m surprised they didn’t praise the T-wolves after every Charlotte missed free throw. (2) Ricky Davis, who talks a surprising amount of trash considering a) Minnesota forged its “dramatic” comeback against a team who’s won all of 9 games, and this is a dude who was essentially deemed unworthy of playing for the Boston Celtics. (3) Mark Blount. Nothing against him personally, but you hate to lose to a team that makes him its linchpin. By the way, is this how it normally goes, T-wolves fans, or did I just catch your team on a weird night? Is Mark Blount always this crucial for you guys? This is the same Mark Blount who, along with Davis, was cast off by the Celtics, correct? I swear, it was just “Blount, Blount, Blount” all night long, and anytime he wasn’t in on a play for more than 2 minutes the announcers would begin fretting about how he needs to be more involved—maybe it’s just me, but that seemed really strange. Imagine not seeing a Bobcats game for a month, then flipping it on and noticing that all the offense suddenly seems to be flowing through Jake Voskuhl—that’s how I felt. (4) This had nothing really to do with the Bobcats game, but in the NBATV late game, Boston managed to hold off Portland, thus ruining my golden opportunity to see Celtics GM Danny Ainge, who was guest announcing, have a potentially electrifying on-air temper tantrum, one that I really would have savored. It was just a frustrating night all around…
The Bobcats at least saw some positive trends continuing. Adam Morrison, who has publicly professed his love for the old ball more times than Tom does for Katie, is now a happy camper, and proved it with 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. Emeka Okafor had the standard 12-14 double-double, Sean May was solid off the bench (12 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists), and the overall shooting has been better lately (52%), despite the second half meltdown. But best of all, Matt Carroll had 23 points off the bench, including 5/8 on 3-pointers. One of the sillier expressions to make its way into the sports lexicon lately has been the use of the word “unconscious” to describe a player’s hot streak. Well, if people are going to keep throwing it out there, I’d argue that Carroll’s play in the past few games has been “comatose.” If he gets any hotter he’ll soon be “vegetative.”