Archives For Utah Jazz

Gary Oldman Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

Rosencrantz: We might as well be dead. Do you think death could possibly be a boat?

Guildenstern: No, no, no … Death is … not. Death isn’t. You take my meaning. Death is the ultimate negative. Not-being. You can’t not-be on a boat.

Rosencrantz: I’ve frequently not been on boats.

Guildenstern: No, no, no — what you’ve been is not on boats.

—Tom Stoppard

There’s a natural tendency for us to want endings to resonate. It’s why we put so much stock in things like the finales of Breaking Bad or True Detective or Lost. An ending is supposed to cast light back on what came before, to contextualize an experience, to put a punctuation mark on it. Even those of us who are pretty much okay with ambiguous endings like the fade at the end of The Sopranos or Don Gately waking up alone on a beach on the last page of Infinite Jest can still get suckered by that craving for some kind of final chord, whether resolved or suspended, a giant crash of three pianos playing a giant E at the end of “A Day In the Life.”

When this kind of closure fails to appear in sports, it’s doubly troubling. Every team — like more or less every person — likes to imagine themselves at the center of whatever story is being told, but the truth is that every season is only going to offer up one main character, one triumphant hero. There’s a reason Sports Illustrated puts out a handsomely bound edition that collects everything written about the Super Bowl or World Series or NBA Champions. Collected into a narrative that ends in crowning victory, everything starts to make sense.

But along the way, major supporting characters, minor supporting characters and extras all fall under the blade in service of that bigger story. If the eventual NBA champion is the hero of The Odyssey, enduring detours and overcoming challenges on the long road home, the runner-up is the hero of Hamlet, coming tantalizingly close to victory only to be felled at the last moment.

Which makes the 2013-14 Minnesota Timberwolves sort of like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Continue Reading…

LoveTripleDip

What can you accomplish in 32 minutes and 35 seconds?

You can run a load of laundry. You can probably cook a really nice dinner as long as the preparation isn’t too time-consuming. You can watch an episode of Full House with commercials and even pause it on the DVR to use the bathroom or play Words With Friends without distraction during each move. All the while, you’re pondering how Joey Gladstone possibly made enough money to not be a complete burden on the Tanner family household. What Kevin Love was able to do in just 32 minutes and 35 seconds last night was pretty ridiculous.

And once again, Love set another weird “record.”  Continue Reading…

Passing-drills.-Screencap-via-ROOT-Sports

Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” So it goes with basketball as well. The search this season for some kind of overarching sense to the Minnesota Timberwolves has so far been fruitless. They have destroyed teams, have eaten them whole, bones and all. Ten times so far this season they have led the other team by 30 or more points (and led the Jazz by 26 in last night’s game). The next closest team to that is San Antonio, who have done it six times, or just over half as many times.

And then, of course, there’s the flipside of that, where they are (say it with me) 0-11 in games decided by four points or less. Trying to reconcile these two things leads to a lot of furious narrative building: they don’t beat the teams they’re supposed to beat; they only beat bad teams; they need to execute down the stretch; they’re fundamentally flawed; it’s all on Ricky Rubio’s shooting; it’s all on Kevin Love’s defense; it’s all on Rick Adelman’s age; it’s all on the bench. Continue Reading…

Love and Martin

Sports, like life, are full of trite turns of phrase and overused cliches. It’s possible to conduct entire interviews (while covering a player or team) as well as have entire conversations (in real life situations) without saying much of anything at all, other than tired, recycled jargon. If you’ve spent any time watching postgame press conferences, or if you’ve ever been stuck talking to someone you have no interest in conversing with, you know the drill. The great baseball flick Bull Durham devotes an entire scene to how important cliches are to professional athletes: Continue Reading…

cst Wolves last game 36651

I’m not sure if any of you have been in the kind of situation the Wolves found themselves in last night, but I feel like I definitely have.

In the fall of 2003, things were not going so well for my band. A little less than a year after we changed the band’s name—a name we’d had for almost a decade—because we felt it no longer fit what we were trying to do, a little more than six months since we’d fired our bassist and not been able to find a consistent replacement, a few weeks after our drummer had to cancel several dates because of conflicts with another band he was in that paid him better, we played our last gig.

It was at a pretty new spot in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, not more than half an hour from Pittsfield, where we regularly packed them in whenever we played. Or rather, we used to, before the name change. The other guitarist—who was also the singer—and I were living in southern Connecticut at the time and trying to make inroads into New York City, where we’d played a good number of gigs, but hadn’t really found our niche. Massachusetts was supposed to be our safe space, our home turf, where we could be comfortable.

But nobody showed up on that October night. And I mean just about literally NOBODY. We had ringers on bass and drums, had maybe chucked whatever name recognition we had, and had barely rehearsed the drummer enough to get him through both our sets. I don’t think we knew for sure it was our last show, or at least we hadn’t said so out loud, but I think we had a sense that things were going off the rails, that any gig might be our last.

And we couldn’t rise to the occasion. It would be great to be able to tell you that we played our asses off that night, that our play rose to the level of the moment and that we really brought it. But we didn’t. And neither did the Timberwolves last night. Continue Reading…

jamsession

You live by the Dante Cunningham midrange jumper, you die by etc. With Pekovic out with calf contusion, this game—for as close as it seemed down the stretch—was yet another lesson in how a steady diet of pick and pop from Stiemsma and Cunningham in the early going doesn’t set the table the way a heart pick and roll from Pek does. It’s not rocket science; it’s just basic nutrition. Look: Continue Reading…

Donde Esta el athletico

This game was crap.

Complain about officiating or the effort or the energy or whatever. Doesn’t really matter. The Wolves played like absolute crap in this game. It happens every once in a while in this league. You hit a road game, you don’t have anything to offer that night, and the home team blows you out. The Wolves have been on the winning side of this equation before and they’ve been on the losing side of this equation before.

Tonight was the losing side and the Jazz just absolutely outplayed them in nearly every way. There isn’t much analysis that can go into it. The team still can’t make 3-pointers. They shot 2-of-17 from the field. It was the eighth time in team history they’ve shot worse than 12% from 3-point range while taking at least 17 3-point attempts. They’re 1-7 in those games with the only win coming on opening night against the Kings this season. It’s not a recipe for success and at a certain point, you have to wonder if they should even take more than a few 3-pointers in a game anymore.

But we’ll get into the 3-point debacle of the season more in the next post.

I don’t really want to talk about the game directly because it was just a bad game. We can eviscerate the people involved with it, but I’ve never been one for overreacting to a small sample size of “evidence.” What I really want to talk about is the lack of athleticism within this team right now.  Continue Reading…

Everybody loves March Madness and you can hardly blame them. The frantic, frayed late-game possessions; the mad, ten-man scrambles for rebounds and loose balls; the blood-thinning, oxygen starved comebacks; kids holding hands; grown men shedding tears: this stuff is truly compelling. But I will tell you now that I’m perfectly content sticking with the NBA, even as the tournament rages on.

For one thing, the players are better at basketball and I really appreciate that. But for another, even your average NBA game carries a certain narrative richness, a structural depth that the college game really can’t match. Matchups evolve over the long course of the game. Players surge and regress. Momentum wavers and shifts many times over.

Take, for example, this game here between the Wolves and the Jazz. There were at least three moments in the game when it seemed that the Wolves were poised to overtake Utah and make a significant run. And there were at least as many when it seemed that the Jazz had the Wolves buried. Wes Johnson went cold and then got hot. Nik Pekovic smashed, disappeared and then returned to smash again. The Wolves went through phases worthy, in their brevity and extremity, of a hormone-addled 15-year-old boy. First they couldn’t seem to cross half-court; then they couldn’t miss a shot; then they couldn’t manage an entry pass, despite many tries at it. Effing madness.

Continue Reading…

Andrei Kirilenko is really a strange looking dude. He wears his baggy shorts very high on an already high waist. His long hair is about as thin and whispy as human hair can be. Its lighter than air; it seems to just float around his long face. And that face! That face is like a caricature of a face.

Most importantly for our purposes are the arms. AK’s preposterously long arms appear to have been grafted onto his body, an ill-fitting gift from the robot/aliens hovering above us. For a man like this, with this kind of willowy, yet angular, almost synthetic body, and with his great instinct for the ball, playing the Timberwolves must seem like the greatest gift of all.

Continue Reading…

“Obviously,” said Kurt Rambis after this harsh game, “what plagues us as a ballclub is our composure in late game situations.” That it is indeed obvious makes the point no less salient and no less worth repeating. The Wolves are glaringly young and inexperienced; this resonates through nearly every game that the team has played this year.  In past seasons, the Wolves were defined by a simple, bitter fact: they were much less talented than nearly every other team. Watching those teams play, one was rarely tempted into false optimism; the crushing runs just seemed inevitable.

But that’s not quite the case this year. I’m guessing no one would look at this team’s roster and confuse them with the Miami Heat, but this season the Wolves are able to do many of the things that actual basketball teams do: they build leads; they make runs; they pose matchup problems; they manage to entertainingly compete with other basketball teams. What aggravates is the way the small but glaring mistakes accrue throughout a game, taking on a sinister collective weight as the Wolves inch closer to another single digit loss.

Continue Reading…