Mad Mike: Timberwolves 98, Cavs 97
Apparently the Wolves got some of that much needed composure for Christmas. Either that or they should’ve asked the schedule makers for more games against the Cavs.
Of course this game started off as any other; Luke Ridnour continually sagged off of three point shooters, Michael Beasley mistook activity for achievement and a collective ineptitude was displayed in defending any Cavs possession that required more than one pass. Add these troubles to Kevin Love being lost amidst the forest that is Anderson Varejao’s unkempt mane and our boys were off to an early deficit which presumably would lead to their latest loss away from Target Center. Seventeen first quarter points certainly didn’t seem like the sign of good things to come.
But then the strangest thing happened. Well, actually it wasn’t that strange, just unexpected given recent events. The Cavs quickly reverted back to their former selves, one upping our defensive shortcomings and their early barrage of threes slowly returned to a manageable percentage. More importantly, several of our road warriors found their footing to carry the Beas through a woeful night of shooting.
Jonny Flynn presented several Cavs with his calling card of questionable shots, but when they mattered most, each of those heaves were immediately followed by sighs of relief as the ball settled its way through the net. Then again, it was Luke Ridnour who drew the most gasps this evening. With the Cavs in firm command late in the second half, Luke sauntered upcourt and launched a three, prompting Cleveland analyst Austin Carr to proclaim that “you have to know your personnel”. Yet before one could even quip that perhaps this is why Ridnour was allowed to shoot in the first place, Ridnour buried another and a sizeable lead had been cut to single digits. He would not score again, but it was more than enough to get things clicking.
Kevin Love would follow with another pair from long distance and this was when Michael Beasley essentially took over. The scouting report on Beas is still the same; he’ll either fire the midrange jumper immediately or drive all the way to the rim, but in any instance, don’t play him to pass. Even though Ridnour was wielding the hot hand, Cleveland still decided to trap Beasley around the arc on the ensuing possession and he was slow to recognize the double or that Luke had retreated to the corner for another open bomb. Instead he drove to the basket and missed a thoroughly contested layup. His persistence failed to pay dividends on yet another assault on the rim afterward as Varejao drew an offensive foul. Beas rightly corrected the ref in pointing out that Andy was neither set nor outside of the circle, but it would be nice to see him as quick to acknowledge that he failed to make the proper adjustment.
Nonetheless, the Wolves found themselves in a familiar scenario: one point lead, less than a minute left and in dire need of a stop to secure the win. They didn’t get it. Antawn Jamison slithered his way right around Beas for an easy two and left us to face the only task more daunting than a defensive stop: executing a half court set with the game on the line. The only thing Michael Jordan may have left more of than memories are mimickers. Too often we’re subjected in these situations to a desperado dribbling the clock down to its waning seconds before rising for another imitation of our hero. That’s almost what we got again, but while he continued his habit of all or nothing, Beas spiced things up a bit by smartly waiting for the lane to clear before a nifty crossover that left Tawn reeling. You know the rest: Layup, lead and even a little time left.
Not exactly the stuff that will get you a Spike Lee cameo, but still effective.