I begin with a story. Bear with me, it has a point:
A few months ago, I had my car parked outside, which is unusual, because I have a two car garage (my wife was painting some furniture in one of the stalls, if I remember correctly). I also had a spare set of keys inside the car, which is unusual, but I had locked myself out of my vehicle a few days before, and when a friend picked up my spare set and brought them to me, I just tossed them on the dash and forgot about them. I also had the door unlocked, because a co-worker was swinging by my house early the next morning to pick up some parts he needed, which is also unusual.
You can probably guess where this is headed – around midnight, I heard an engine rev, and thought, “Oh, shit.” I looked out the window and saw my car backing away from the house. It smoked the garbage cans at the end of the driveway, eased into drive, and slowly started down the street. After a few moments of panic, I called 9-1-1, and flipped the exterior lights on. The guy stopped the car for some reason, got out, and began stumbling towards my house. I lost my mind – I sprinted to all the doors to make sure they were locked, grabbed a baseball bat, and peered out the front windows, ready to defend myself if I had to.
But the guy was gone.
From the window, I could see the car was about 50 yards down the street, but it wasn’t moving, and it didn’t look like anyone was inside. I waited for the police to arrive while sitting on the front steps, my heart racing, marvelling at the close call. After telling them my story, offering my description of the guy (tall, thin, white, blonde hair, blue sweatshirt and jeans), watching K-9 units scour my neighbors’ backyards and the empty lots across the street, chuckling at the sight of a half-empty wine bottle in the cup holder of my car (which explained the stumbling – the perpetrator was drunk), picking up the garbage cans that had been knocked over, and finally being allowed to bring the vehicle back to my driveway – one of the police officers handed me his card and told me they would follow up if they got any leads.
“And hey,” he said before hopping in his squad car and driving away. “Don’t leave your keys in the car anymore.”
I immediately felt my face turn red. I probably didn’t need to hear that, but I understood why he said it, because, hell, I LEFT MY KEYS IN AN UNLOCKED CAR THAT WAS PARKED IN THE DRIVEWAY. I didn’t exactly bring the attempted theft upon myself, and he wasn’t saying that I “deserved” it, but my poor judgment made such a thing possible. It was an error of omission rather than commision, but it was an error all the same.
Sort of like allowing the opponent who has been kicking your ass all night (Danilo Gallinari) to be guarded by Kevin Martin (nooooooooot a defensive stopper) one-on-one during the biggest possession of the game.
Except, maybe Sam’s error was a little bit worse. Remember the play before Gallinari’s dagger? Denver inbounded and immediately forced the switch so Martin would have to cover Gallo. Martin panicked and grabbed a hold of him, resulting in a foul. But instead of subbing Martin out at that point, even though it was clear what Denver’s game plan was, Sam let it ride. Denver inbounded again, got the switch, and the 6’10 deadeye shooter buried a clutch jumper right over the hapless Martin.
My story makes me look kind of bad, but imagine a neighbor had come by earlier that afternoon and said, “Hey, pal, Whitey the Notorious Blonde Alcoholic Car Thief Has been spotted in the neighborhood, you may want to make sure your outdoor vehicles are secure!” If that was the case, I’d look even worse, right?
I’ve been critical of Sam Mitchell for a bunch of different things, but most people who cover and write about the team seem to think he’s doing a fine job given the circumstances. I do, too. I think he and KG are laying the groundwork of some important defensive principles, and he’s empowering his young guys to shoulder the load. The Wolves went to KAT and Wiggins a ton down the stretch and in overtime, with mixed results, but I’ll take that as a positive development. That’s good for them.
But leaving Martin to square off against Gallinari one-on-one, especially after he’d just seen that was what Denver wanted to do, is an x’s and o’s gaffe that is going to stick out for awhile. I hate pretending to know more than the coach, and I’m perplexed by the people who took to Twitter after the game to lobby for Sam’s firing (seriously?), but one thing is for certain, and one criticism is totally fair: as the coach, you CANNOT let that possession happen the way it did, like you SHOULD NOT leave your keys in an unlocked car outside. Gallinari still had to make the shot, and Whitey the Notorious Blonde Alcoholic Car Thief still had to make the decision to steal my car – but both Sam Mitchell and I left ourselves open to being victims of our own negligence.
A FEW RANDOM NOTES
- Kevin Martin had 22 points, which was a fine night, but his first two possessions of the overtime frame were dreadful. When the officials aren’t buying his blatant attempts to draw a whistle, it leads to some really ugly sequences.
- I loved drawing up a play for KAT to get the three point attempt at the very end of the game. He entered the game 7-for-16 this season from beyond the arc, and since he’s nearly 7 feet tall, it’s difficult for defenders to really bother his shot too much.
- Jameer Nelson kind of kicked Ricky Rubio’s butt during the second half. It was, um, a little troubling to me.
- Ricky Rubio was a minus-7 in this one. Zach LaVine, on the other hand, was a plus-3.
- 34 minutes for Tayshaun was surprising. He went scoreless, missing all five of his field goal attempts, but was still a +2 on the night.
- Damjan Rudez coming in for six random minutes was unexpected, but welcome. He’s now hit 6 of the 12 threes he’s been asked to shoot. The reason I’m not worried about Rudez, despite his inconsistent playing time, is that the guy is ALWAYS ready to go..
It’s better every time. pic.twitter.com/SNQQ2JQB3D
— Sara Wunderlich (@TaylorMade729) December 2, 2015
- Regarding Sam Mitchell: Listen, you may not like his style, you may think the Wolves need to move on in order to take the next step, you may think he’s even stunting the growth of some of the young players on the team. But please keep in mind that he was thrown into this situation, and that he, perhaps more than anyone outside of Flip’s immediate family) was/is affected by his death. He wasn’t expecting to be in this position, and he’s trying to find his way through it the best way he knows how. I’m not saying he’s immune from criticism, of course – please see the first 800ish words of this recap – but I think it’s important to be mindful of that context before you start, say, a petition to have him fired, or before you threaten to revoke your fandom if he is still the coach at the beginning of next season.