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Hawks 105, Timberwolves 100: Wear that on your sleeve

“It’s been a bad day

Please don’t take my picture…”

-R.E.M.

We all have bad days at the office; Lord knows, I do. And I’m really thankful that when I do, the maximum number of people who know about it is capped at, like, 10, maybe 15, tops. I’m glad that when I screw up it’s just a few people in my office, plus some customers of mine, who could ever possibly know about it. I’m very happy my giant screw-ups have never been on TV. No one is live-tweeting my bullshit.

Jeff Teague does not have that luxury. He gets paid many millions of dollars to play basketball, and a good chunk of that change is derived from a) television revenue and b) the insane amount of interest casual people have in his games, including those of us who are neither co-workers of his, nor his “customers” (not in a real sense, anyway). If you watched Monday’s game against the Hawks, a very bad day at the office was broadcast to your television or portable device; a whole bunch of us saw the whole damn thing.

Like…

And…

Teague also committed a pretty dumb foul on Kent Bazemore with 1:13 to go that gave him an and-1 opportunity, which he converted, giving the Hawks a 3 point lead. Before all that, Teague was… well, not very good, either. He went 1-of-12 from the field and while he registered 10 assists, he seemed to kill the offensive flow. The ball-stopping, including that thing he does where he gets to the free throw line area, pivots a bunch, and passes back out for a bail-out… it was all there. The hesitancy to shoot open threes, only to dribble into getting stuffed in the paint?

Yup, that made an appearance, too.

Now, keeping in mind that sports are nothing but a mindless distraction for the very privileged, with no meaningful bearing whatsoever on the harsh realities and struggles of life, it’s fair to say that Mr. Teague had a very bad basketball game, especially when it mattered most. He certainly wasn’t the only guy who played poorly down the stretch – Taj missed a game-tying free throw, Andrew Wiggins went scoreless in the final frame, etc. – but this one can be put pretty safely on Teague’s shoulders. The poor entry pass and failure to inbound the ball (without realizing the team didn’t have a timeout remaining) are on him.

The good news is, he didn’t get fired, just like I haven’t been fired. No matter how bad a day it was, we all have to get to go to work tomorrow to try all over again, to eek out a meager existence in a profession that sustains my family but tries my patience try to be better next time, because that’s what’s on the schedule, and the schedule is binding. That’s the beautiful thing about late capitalism basketball.

A few other odds and ends from this silly, silly game:

  • Karl had 8 shot attempts, total, in 32 minutes; every other starter had at least 12. That’s wrong. It’s WRONG.
  • This is becoming a bit of a trend; last week, in the Raptor, Clipper and Blazer games, Karl attempted 23 field goals TOTAL. Last season, he had at least 10 field goal attempts in 81 of 82 games; he’s now attempted fewer than 10 field goals in 4 games in the past week and a half. Sure, the presence of Butler and Teague means there are fewer shots to go around, but Karl needs to be more of an emphasis than he is. 8 shots for an offensive player of his caliber is ridiculous.
  • Minnesota had 15 steals and Atlanta committed 21 turnovers, total… hard to believe the Wolves were beaten by such a sloppy team.
  • The third quarter had this very casual feel to it; you can tell everyone needs a break. It’s not quite time for the playoff push, and everyone’s legs are a bit spent; it’s tough watching ten tired guys meandering through an entire quarter of basketball. Give the Hawks credit; there were lots of chances for the Wolves to put it away, and Kent Bazemore (in particular) didn’t let it happen.
  • Speaking of Baze, this block was SWEET (and yeah, that’s our man Teague, getting blocked… again…):

  • The Wolves were out-shot from three 34 to 19 and out-rebounded 44 to 35.
  • Minnesota heads to Toronto for a Tuesday night showdown in a city that is actually further south than Minneapolis, MN.
  • If the first “Bad Day” song you think of is that lame Daniel Powter one instead of the really cool R.E.M. one, you’re a bad person and you should feel bad.
  • Michael Stipe, take us home:

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8 thoughts on “Hawks 105, Timberwolves 100: Wear that on your sleeve

  1. How bad a game can a guy have, TEAGUE!? WOW. I gotta tell you, Teague is one of my least favorite Wolves, but after the failed inbound/phantom TO, even I felt sorry for him. I saw Towns pat him on the back, and I kinda wanted to.

    That being said, as William did a great job of pointing out, all this bad stuff was normal Teague stuff. It just sort of all came together in one game, without much good Teague stuff to counter it. But this will certainly just be viewed with a shrug and a ‘everyone has a bad game now and again’ by Thibs. The truth is this stuff is chronic and hurting the team. The cartoonish awfulness of this performance made it easy to discount, but it was made out of Teague flaws we see all the time, which are roundly ignored by our coach (and sometimes our announcers, although if Jim Pete had hair left he’d have pulled it all out in this one over Teague’s performance).

    If any game was a symbol of Teague’s totally inflated and misleading assist totals, this was it. I’ve never seen someone who is this bad at passing and running an offense average this many assists. I can’t explain it.

    To a lesser degree, the same his true of his steals. He often puts up good steal #’s and because of a lack of good basic D stats, that is often read as good overall D. Not true with Teague. But to go even further, sometimes it seems like he gets credit for more steals than other players. Every time he has 2-4 steals in a game, when it’s done you can maybe recall 1-2 if you are lucky as a fan. Obviously, the ghost of Rubio lingers (he hit a game winner the other night!). You look at Teague’s stat line tonight and think it was Rubioesque: 1-12, 10 assists, 4 steals 2 TO. How wrong you’d be. Teague made dumb play after dumb play in crunch time, something the ultra aware Rubio almost never did. Teague’s D was horrible. Rubio defends well, overall. Teague passed horribly (see clip above, not on full stomach). Rubio always passed with great fundamentals at very least. Teague ran the offense, and managed pace terribly. This was one of Rubio’s strength. Even when their box’s look kinda alike, these two players are nothing alike. Not that that is the ultimate point. It is simply that Teague is a deeply flawed player who we overpaid for and are likely stuck with.

    Thibs, if you are bored or drunk after that game and somehow reading this blog USE KAT MORE USE KAT MORE USE KAT MORE USE KAT MORE. I can’t emphasize enough how bad this makes our coaching look. Even if you want to blame KAT for a part in it, it is THib’s job to order KAT to take more takes and draw up ways to get him involved on O if it is a problem. What’s clear is that getting KAT looks is not a priority. It seems deeper. It’s almost like a conspiracy to deny the guy looks. To what end? KAT actually plays a pretty involved, aggressive style night in and out (unlike Wiggins). It’s a challenge to have him coming in 4th or 5th in fg attempts night after night. In other words, evidence is mounting that Thibs is actually trying to limit how involved KAT is in the offense for some reason. ~AND IT MAKES ME VERY ANGRY. ~

    One of the many flaws of Wiggins is that he’s often bad in crunch time. That was the case in this game. KAT isn’t like this at all. Why this isn’t seized on by the team–the fact that KAT is energetic, intense and effective in the 4th–is beyond me.

    It’s risky to get beat on the three point line every game in today’s league. See this game for example…

    Oh my god I dislike the Hawks uniforms. They looks like rejected soccer uniforms from Azerbaijan. I actually like the mid red with electric lemon, just for something different, but the design of the uniforms is bad. The pacman Hawk is cool too. But the uniforms are one of those that seem inherently connected with a bad team. They might suck until they change them. Well, that’s an embarrassing team to lose to! The Wolves new unis were mostly a lost opportunity but at least they aren’t an embarrassment. They are very middle of the road.

  2. Another really really bad loss. Losses like these late in the season shouldn’t be happening anymore. We are so maddeningly inconsistent. We beat Toronto w/o Butler then lose to the worst team in the league at full strength. We beat the Cavs by 40 then lose to the Magic. It just doesn’t compute. What kind of team is this? Where’s the steady improvement night to night? Are you guys seeing improvement? We gripe about the same stuff every night and I’m sick of hearing myself say it.

    I don’t know what to expect from this Wolves team anymore. For the first time since KG, Cassell, and Spreewell, we have some legit top talent and this is the product on the court? It’s so frustrating. Yes, we have a winning record. That’s great. But we all expected more with this roster. It’s not coming together like it should. We’re more than 50 games in. This crap shouldn’t be happening anymore. I should want to watch the Wolves but I don’t. I’m just going to get mad because of all of the reasons listed in the things I hate about you and what Pyrrol said. I don’t want that. I want to want to watch the Wolves. I really do.

    Fire Thibs and hopefully a rival hires him so he can run them into the ground and get them playing bad uninspired basketball.

    1. Oh yea and Jones should totally be starting. Teague just isn’t the right guy for the starters. Trade him or bench him

    2. If you told me at the beginning of the season that we’d still be having chemistry issues at this point in the year, I wouldn’t have been concerned or surprised. I expected that it would take quite a bit of time to get so many new pieces playing as a single machine. But I never would have expected the problems we’re seeing. And it’s the nature of those problems that does have me genuinely concerned.

      I assumed that Teague would be a significant defensive liability, but I would not have suspected that he would struggle with his offensive game so frequently.

      I would have never guessed that our intensity would vary so much night to night. And I felt that with the depth on our bench, we would not be spending a 2nd consecutive year playing our starters to death. In Thibs’ defense, Bazz has been terrible, Gogui has had an incredibly slow start and we lost Belly for an extended period. But there are opportunities to give five minutes here or there to some of the bench guys and Thibs refuses to use those opportunities.

      I can’t say that I was down on the Thibs hiring when it happened. But I was not terribly excited either. He never felt like the right fit for this franchise to me. After a year and a half, he still doesn’t feel like the right fit for this franchise.

  3. Another game where the Wolves play down to their competition. Jeff Teague played for Atlanta, so we somehow need to give him his night to show it was a mistake? I bet Atlanta fans are wishing they had kept him after last night’s debacle. Instead of pounding the Plumlee out of them with KAT down low, we give more shots to Jeff Teague, who seems more hesitant than Ricky Rubio at the arc and not as productive as the Spanish Unicorn was at this time last year. We also gave more shots to Wiggins. I guess maybe Thibs thought he was playing Toronto too and Wiggins does well against his hometown team.

    Once again, in what was obviously going to be a tight game, Thibs uses his timeouts before the last 2:30 of the game, so he has no way to stop the clock or advance the ball or do anything, but remind his team that they don’t have a TO to take, which he doesn’t do, and they throw the game away. Good teams are supposed to be the one’s that are calm at the end, not the hot mess we saw again last night. Thibs builds a lack of confidence in his team, by calling TO just because they lost the lead, early in the fourth. Make them figure it out coach, so if you are close at the end of the game, you have options. You get out-coached so often, I rack my brains to remember when we had the smarter coach in a game. Don’t think that your team is oblivious to this either. You yell and scream at them and then pull blunders like last night and you don’t think that they can use it as a reason for their own ineptitude against inferior talent? They are young people, that don’t see themselves as the problem.

    I know that Tyus wasn’t playing well last night either, but he only got 13 total minutes, which given how bad Teague was, makes you wonder if Thibs even knows how a game flows. It seems like he has in his mind at the beginning of the game, that Teague was going to get heavy minutes, regardless of the result. Same with KAT’s touches. Is he punishing him for not playing defense with the same intensity? You don’t get the ball, if you don’t guard someone?
    This seems like an AAU move and not the NBA, but hey look at the results. Teague plays terrible defense and he gets the ball all the time. Wiggins plays spotty defense and he gets his touches. Why is KAT not being used at the offensive end, when he is being guarded by another Plumlee? I didn’t see a star center out there that should be able to stay with KAT. When he did get the ball, he was dominating.

    I see that Detroit gave up a bunch to get a washed up Griffin from the Clips last night. Maybe we can do the same with our “wonderful” starting point guard. Or better yet, our “brilliant” coach. We are five games up on the ninth best team in the West. There is still time to blow this gimme too.

  4. This is one of those games where I have to be careful about not over emphasizing the meaning of it because it validates most of the major criticisms I have of this team, the coach/GM and the players.

    From everything I’ve read, Jeff Teague is a good guy off the court. Basically a big kid, plays video games, hangs out with his friends, even lived with his parents during that stop off with the Pacers. But on the court, I despise the man. It’s rare to see a player so talented look so completely un-instinctive. There are times where Teague seems to lose any and all feeling for the game. Other times he’ll process the complex ballet of geometry married to Newtonian motion and make an incredible, instinctive play.

    In every sport there are players that make the fanbase pull their hair out due to their maddening inconsistency. Those are the players that allow teams to reach dizzying highs that you never thought they could reach, only to come crashing down into an abyss that’s so deep you wonder if you’ll ever hit bottom. Teague drives me nuts. He has all the tools to be just a half-step down from an elite point guard. But he lacks consistency for certain, but possibly the drive and “heart” as well. His body language in games like last night’s do him no favors, either.

    You hear stories in every professional league that there are players who are good at the sport, but don’t love it or sometimes, don’t even like it. It’s simply a very high paying job for them. Natural talent and a moderate amount of work allows them to continue to draw a paycheck year after year. But they never reach their apogee because that love, that drive do not exist. Perhaps Jeff Teague is one of those players.

    Moving on:

    -I also have noticed what can now only be called a trend in the lack of shots for KAT. This has gone on long enough now that I can only assume it is a conscious decision by Thibs. This begs the question: WHY!????

    -The team looked flat and tired last night. Was this just one of the dog days of the NBA? Or is it a case of Thibs inability to squeeze in just five minutes a night for players like Shabazz so that the starters aren’t playing quite so many minutes? I strongly believe the latter.

    -This game was an opportunity for Wiggins to rise up and carry his team on an off night. He failed. I still maintain that he has the highest ceiling of anyone on the roster, including KAT. But I’m becoming doubtful that we’ll ever see him reach that ceiling.

    -I can’t help myself, I’m going back to Teague. I was not happy about Thibs decision to discard Rubio in order to acquire Teague. I felt it was a mistake at the time and I’ve seen very little to dissuade me from that original opinion. I still can’t wrap my head around why Thibs wanted him in the first place. Teague is so NOT a “Thibs guy”. There’s none of the intensity, commitment or consistency that Thibs desires in his players. Yes, I know Ricky struggles with shooting and yes, when Teague is shooting well, it has opened up the offense. But is this truly an improvement? And didn’t Rubio already embody many of the qualities that Thibs wants in his players?

    This team drives me $%^#$! insane. In many ways, I enjoyed watching them more the past two years than I do this season.

    1. Wow, this is like hearing myself! The only thing I would add is that I’m not so sure Teague has all the tools to be one-half step down from elite. I see a pretty flawed talent. Rubio was also flawed, but his flaws seemed to balance out better in the context of a team (esp a good one, which he rarely if ever had while here). The other thing about Rubio is that he works his butt off the get better at his weaknesses. Either Teague doesn’t acknowledge he has weaknesses that could use work, or he isn’t interested in improving.

      1. “Either Teague doesn’t acknowledge he has weaknesses that could use work, or he isn’t interested in improving” It’s difficult not to get down on Teague because of this alone. His body language drives me up the wall. I never, ever questioned Rubio’s effort. Both with how Teague carries himself and anecdotes that I’ve heard about him, I’m deeply concerned about is level of motivation in playing for a team that desperately needs him to play well.

        Maybe I’m giving Teague too much credit (regarding my “half step” comment). I watched him quite a bit when he was with Atlanta and he had occasional stretches during games where he was the best player on the court, offensively at least. But he also displayed the same indifference and inconsistency that he displays with the Wolves. The problem is that we aren’t getting any of those great moments. He was never a player I looked at and wished he was on the Wolves. But his best moments are wildly impressive, hence my “half step below elite” comment.

        I know I should let the Rubio thing go because there’s nothing to be gained from it. But part of the reason I can’t seem to let it go is the question: Why Teague? As I mentioned in my big post above, why was Thibs drawn to Teague when he’s so not a “Thibs guy”? Was it really just the shooting? Or was it that trap that coaches occasionally fall into with a streaky, inconsistent, but occasionally brilliant player: The “I can fix him” syndrome.

        If we traded Ricky to make room for a guy like Jrue Holliday or George Hill, I wouldn’t have been happy but I could have understood it. But I can’t understand the Teague acquisition. And I’m understanding it less and less as the season goes on.

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