Energy Solutions Arena. A tree, one that looks much like Rudy Gobert.
A chance meeting under the Utah moonlight for the Wolves and the Jazz ended with a visitors’ victory in overtime.
The two squads combined for 39 turnovers. Utah snagged 21 offensive rebounds, but missed 12 free throws. Zach LaVine had 27 points for Minnesota, but turned the ball over 7 times on his own. After combining for 33 points in a putrid 3rd quarter, the Wolves and Jazz combined for 69 points on 55% shooting in the 4th.
It was beautifully ugly basketball, tough to watch, but necessary, for I was assigned to do so. On the other hand what’s the good of losing heart now, that’s what I say. It was a way to pass the time, though it would have passed in any case. Speaking of passing, Trey Burke should have done a bit more of that, because he went 4-for-22 (FOUR FOR TWENTY TWO) with five turnovers:
I hate to disparage any opposing player too harshly, as I don’t see most of them often enough to have truly sound opinions, but I’m comfortable asserting that Trey Burke has been really bad this season. If the Jazz had competent guard play, they might be pushing for a playoff spot. There are times when I wonder whether it wouldn’t be better for the two sides to part. That would be too bad, really too bad. Maybe he just needs a little more experience! But then the Jazz could try other names, one after the other. It’d pass the time. And they’d be bound to hit on the right one sooner or later.
Did the Wolves hit the right one with their own young shooting guard currently masquerading as a point guard? Time will tell, but for one night, things went well, especially in the clutch:
And then later he hits another clutch shot, and all his teammates all say, “You again! Come here till I embrace you!”
It’s a wonder the Timberwolves were able to pull off the victory like this on the second night of a back-to-back. They needed every random LaVine heat check three to fall. Four players played 44 or more minutes. Andrew Wiggins was out there for 48:48. Lorenzo Brown had a nice night, putting up 10 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals. Chase Budinger hit a clutch three in overtime that gave the Wolves a 5-point lead with 2:30 to play. Sean Kilpatrick, who was signed to a 10-day contract thanks to a hardship exemption granted by the league, had a delightful evening. He hit 4-of-7 shots, scored 13 points, and carried the Wolves’ offense early in the 4th quarter. He also had some nice rotations to contest shots and foul Rudy Gobert as he rolled to the rim, rather than simply allowing him to catch lobs all night.
Why was Gobert such a problem for the Wolves? Think! Perhaps because for the fourth straight night the Wolves only had two big men. Stop! That left Chase Budinger playing a lot of power forward. Think! It is really such a shame to ask these guys, proud professionals, to carry on this way. Stop! And it’s hard not to be cynical about whether or not the guys in street clothes are really all hurt so badly that they cannot play, or whether these seven (or eight, if you consider the shooting guard who dressed but did not play) are really just being thrown to the pigs. Stop!
The Minnesota Timberwolves dressed eight but only had intentions of playing seven because Kevin Martin something something something or the other quaquaquaqua and the injuries the ever increasing number adding and subtracting from what the coaching staff can do because of bum foot and ankle and shin and knees and hips and shoulders and a headache most unfortunate migraines from the new seven footer Mr. Hamilton by which I mean he was playing so well but is not with the team now no he is not he is vanished and KG, the Kid, the Big Ticket has a bum knee or some such it is unwise to question don’t you dare question interrogate with some exceptions for reasons unknown but time will tell and suffers much like Anthony Bennett he who is so unfortunate to have suffered the maladies he has but no timetable for him although this would be good time to see progress beyond all doubt all other doubt than that which clings to the labors of men that as a result of the labors unfinished then too of course is Shabazz in his suit jacket tossed over t-shirts there on the bench a damn shame so fun to watch but that man in short that man in brief in spite of the strides of alimentation and defecation wastes and pines wastes and pines and concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown in spite of the strides of physical culture the practice of sports and Gary Neal’s ankle hurts too of course certainly it’s implied definitely indeed indubitably naturally surely Robbie Hummel too the man needs a contract I am sure he longs to see the court again but will he the clock is ticking ticking tick tock tick tock and Rubio too the maestro himself time will tell I resume alas alas on on in short in fine on on abode of stones who can doubt it I resume but not so fast I resume the skull fading fading fading and concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown in spite…
. . . basketball . . . the stones . . . so calm . . . cunning . . . unfinished.
You see, it’s difficult not to be cynical about all this, even on the nights when the Wolves happen to win. These wins don’t mean anything. The Jazz are building something, slingshotting into next season by playing well (coming in, they’d won 12 of 16 since the All-Star break) and every one of their games is an opportunity to learn something about them, about their future. Tonight, they got beaten by a team with one veteran big man (Dieng), one veteran playing way, way, way out of position (Budinger), a phenom who’s understandably hit the rookie wall (Wiggins), three guys who’ve spent most of the season in the D-League (Payne, Kilpatrick, Brown), and a guy who should’ve spent most of this season in the D-League (LaVine).
Tonight we learned the Jazz still need to learn how to finish games. Shit, they’re fun, though. Quin Snyder is a hell of a coach. Their offense, aside from Burke’s chucking and Exum’s steep learning curve, has the makings of something beautiful. And their defense? With Rudy Gobert in the middle? Mercy, mercy, what a player. The Wolves? What did we learn? Anything? Nothing? Will we learn anything else this season? We have to come back tomorrow. What for? To wait for Godot. And what is that? Is that the answer that’ll never come? Well, that’s bleak.
Well? Shall we go? Yes, let’s go.
They do not move.