The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Wolves put forth another valiant effort and the Spurs eked out another narrow victory in the game’s final minute.
Once again there were plenty of positives to seek solace in, but ultimately this was just another aggravating exercise in character building. Michael Beasley was determined to correct his poor performance in their previous matchup, Kevin Love continued to run amok and Corey Brewer quietly went about playing some of the best defense Manu Ginobili will see this season. However, in taking then relinquishing another large lead, our pups have shown that they still have plenty of growing to do.
Unlike our last heart breaker, this lead was built not through San Antonio’s poor shooting, but our inspired play. Beasley simply overwhelmed Richard Jefferson early, displaying a healthy balance of drives and midrange shooting that kept the offense humming. This was bolstered by some impressive board work from Love & Co. as the Wolves put more bodies on the glass than a Sir-Mix-A-Lot video. We inhaled the game’s first ten misses and ended the night with 59 rebounds, 25 of them coming on the offensive end. We were not intimidated, we executed, we played to our strengths and we were primed for revenge.
Until Beasley went down.
In the midst of a 32-18 3rd quarter run, the Wolves lost Beas to a rolled ankle and as he limped off to the locker room, so did our cohesion. There was no one to put the ball in the basket and San Antonio stepped up the defensive intensity, forcing several miscues that dwindled the lead down to nothing. By the time Beasley hobbled back onto the floor early in the 4th, panic had already set in and the Spurs rally was completed with two game tying free throws from George Hill with two minutes remaining. We were timid, disjointed and no match for such an experienced unit.
Now if it’s any consolation, a close game was sealed not through our ineptitude, but an excellent play from San An broken down here by the incomparable Sebastian Pruiti.
In a two possession game, we responded with a series of wild heaves all but destined to miss their mark and the night ended with another tally in the L column. Had we secured that all important defensive stop, who knows how things would have turned out with another shot at a tie. Then again, it’s not hard to guess.
Despite their inefficiency, Minnesota’s pace and rebounding will allow them to score frequently enough to stay in many games. But unless it’s coupled with a considerable defensive effort, these games will still be close in their latter stages and that is when an inability to execute in the half court has been consistently exposed. Granted, a major problem has been a paucity of Wolves capable of creating their own shot, but they still must find a way to duplicate the effort they put forth late against a lowly Clippers team, with whom we are now tied for the league’s worst record.
We are now entering a particularly brutal portion of the schedule and in seasons past this was when all hope was lost as our attention shifted to the draft lottery. There are enough holdovers from those days to fill their new mates in on of that sense of despair. Collectively, they must look inside themselves and find enough inspiration to brave through this winter with different results. Otherwise, true or not, they need to prepare themselves for another flurry of dismissive jokes and cruel taunts reminding them that they may never recover from the loss of their guiding star.
Speaking of, the Cavs are in town tonight. Let’s see how that turns out.