You’ve probably already seen this, but just in case you haven’t, this is the most compelling thing that happened in Tuesday’s loss to the Orlando Magic… FIGHT!!!
A couple of observations about the insanely cool and badass kerfuffle before we discuss the boring old basketball game:
- There must have been a lot more going on prior to this, right? Like, more than just the techs they got 30 seconds into the 2nd quarter? Either that, or Afflalo really lost his mind over mild passive-aggression on Bjelica’s part, because nothing on this particular play seemed egregious.
- Afflalo is really lucky that punch didn’t land. He wasn’t messing around, effort-wise.
- Form-wise, though? My man, what is with the wild swing? Afflalo was flailing about like a faceless extra coming at Steven Seagal in a B-movie.
- A-plus job by Nemanja to go with the head-lock in response. On the Wolves’ broadcast, Jim Petersen described it as a “big brother” move; put the smaller guy in a head-lock, wait for others to break it up while simultaneously protecting yourself.
- I wonder: would Bjelica have been tossed had he not earned the earlier technical foul? Tough to say.
- Watch the Wolves’ assistant coaches dart in front of the bench as soon as the altercation gets underway. It’s a smart move on their part – leaving the bench area is an automatic ejection for a player – but it’s still kind of funny to watch as it occurs.
- Remember the last time someone took a shot at Bjelica?
- I think, ultimately, Nemanja won this fight in a decision.
Right, onto the basketball game…
Jimmy’s postgame quote sums the evening up nicely:
Butler post game: “We need to humble our damn selves. I’m glad we lost. Came in here on our high horse, thinking we’re a really good team and we haven’t done anything yet. Good for us man. They played better than us. They played harder than we did. They did everything right.”
— Jerry Zgoda (@JerryZgoda) January 17, 2018
The Wolves, who average over 24 free throws per game, only got to the line 10 times in Orlando. They were outrebounded 51-to-37 overall, and had particular trouble boxing out Bismack Biyombo (15 boards, including 6 offensive rebounds). Minnesota finished the game with 16 three-point attempts, but even that (low) figure is misleading. They took eight threes through the first three quarters, and five in the final three minutes of the game, when they were chucking and hoping for a spark. Once again, they failed to generate outside looks within the flow of the offense for most of the contest. Yeah, yeah, they’re still an excellent offensive team, I know – but it’s still an issue.
Minnesota’s defense was also a big problem in crunch time. A pair of Tyus Jones free throws put the Wolves up by 6 with 10:54 to play; they were outscored 35-23 the rest of the game. The Magic moved the ball pretty well in the final frame, but the Wolves’ defense didn’t stay connected, often failing to account for open shooters (D.J. Augustin, Mario Hezonja, and Evan Fournier in particular) and neglecting to close out.
Jeff Teague was especially bad; he seems to have nights where his defensive effort slips, and it sticks out like a sore thumb. When some players get caught out of position or ball-watching and have to recover late for a close-out, they at least make a show of attempting to pretend to contest the shot. They’ll raise an arm and do the fly-by or jog-by routine. But several times this season (and a few times late in tonight’s game) Teague hasn’t even bothered with all that. I don’t necessarily think those possessions alone indicate whether or not he’s a capable defender, but they stick in the memory, and this perhaps contributes to Teague’s polarizing status among fans.
A few other random odds and ends:
- It’s a quiet week (just three games) so perhaps it isn’t surprising that KAT played 40, Jimmy 39, and Taj 38. Eight man rotation for Thibs tonight; Bjelica’s ejection didn’t help matters, but still.
- Wiggins: 9 points on 4-of-12 shooting, largely invisible. One of *those* games.
- What a night for Magic center Khem Birch: 12 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks in 18 minutes, by far the longest (and most effective) stint of his NBA career. Good for him. He was a healthy scratch in 35 of Orlando’s 42 games entering Tuesday. I would hazard to guess he’s earned himself a spot in the rotation for at least the next week or so.
- Birch and D.J. Augustin led the Magic with +13 lines. The Wolves had no answer for either.
- Minnesota had more points in the paint, fastbreak points, and had 10 fewer turnovers than Orlando… and still lost. How odd.
- It seemed like Never Google never missed, I was actually shocked to see he was “only” 12-for-22 from the field (for a career-high 32 points).
- The Wolves now head to Houston for a tilt against the Fightin’ Rockets on TNT Thursday evening.
- In conclusion:
“OH oh, it’s spelled with two Fs and only one L. I thought it was the other way around.” pic.twitter.com/fHNSAd0dxL
— Dane Carbaugh (@danecarbaugh) January 17, 2018