The last time the Wolves won in April was three years ago, three coaches ago, and more players than one would care to remember ago: April 8, 2009. The Pups are 4-13 in their last 17 games, and have lost 5 straight for the first time this season. With any hope of the postseason out the window, it’s time to start rooting for the Jazz to make the playoffs (and thus send the Wolves a 1st round pick in the upcoming draft).
We will keep it brief. Jason Smith started the game by making his first 8 shots. Yep, Jason Smith. Oh, and Chris Kaman started the game making his first 7 shots. At one point, the two Hornet 7 footers were shooting 17-18 against the Wolves. Needless to say, there wasn’t a whole lot of defense being played, particularly in the paint. During one stretch at the end of the second quarter/start of third quarter, the Wolves missed 8 straight shots. It was that kind of game, and it’s been that kind of month. The Wolves will never have problems scoring consistently. They will also never have to worry about wining games with the type of defense that has been on display as of late.
The Wolves lost Saturday nights game in the 3rd quarter, where they were outscored 33-26. After trailing 46-41 at halftime, the Wolves actually held a 3 point lead at one point in the 3rd. The lead didn’t last long though, and the Hornets left the quarter with a 12 point lead on 57% shooting (compared to 45% by MN). The Wolves did get it to within 2 in the 4th, but the Hornets bigs were too much. Never thought I’d say that.. especially against Love and Pekzilla.
Remember the disappointment around the Twin Cities as fans realized that many of games in this lock-out shortened season wouldn’t be on local TV? Well, the Wolves brass has to be happy that once again, League Pass-less fans couldn’t watch another bad loss to a bad team. Then again, the Wolves haven’t done much of late to show that they are a good team.
With all that has been said about the “new look” Wolves, it is easy to forget that this is a roster with many of the same parts as last year. A healthy Ricky Rubio was able to mask many of the deficiencies in this season’s squad. Lets compare this years roster to that of April 6, 2010 (a year and a day ago), when the Wolves faced Phoenix in Minneapolis:
|Kevin Love||Kevin Love|
|Michael Beasley||Michael Beasley|
|Wesley Johnson||Wesley Johnson|
|Nikola Pekovic||Nikola Pekovic|
|Anthony Tolliver||Anthony Tolliver|
|Darko Milicic||Darko Milicic|
|Luke Ridnour||Luke Ridnour|
|Martell Webster||Martell Webster|
|Anthony Randolph||Anthony Randolph|
|Wayne Ellington||Wayne Ellington|
|Jonny Flynn||Malcolm Lee|
|Sebastian Telfair||JJ Barea|
|Lazar Hayward||Brad Miller|
Obviously, the names in bold represent changes in the roster. Looks good, doesn’t it? The Wolves clearly came out on top when it comes to the guards – ditching J-Flynn and Bassy for Ricky, JJ, and Malcolm Lee. Small forward Lazaar Hayward was traded to the Thunder in December, and the Wolves filled in the roster by adding #2 pick Derrick Williams. While we still don’t have a typical 3 man, it is a nice upgrade at forward. We all knew what the Wolves were getting in center Brad Miller: a big man who could teach the younger guys a thing or two about Rick Adelman’s system. No complaints here – it’s safe to say things worked out well with Miller. DAVID KAHN FOR GM OF THE YEAR!
Unfortunately, what Kahn did in the condensed offseason is only half of the story. It is what he did not do that has lead to another winless month of April. Continuity is a great thing in a roster, especially when it is full of talent. The current Wolves lineup is filled with too much potential and not enough effort or purpose.
In the coming weeks, we will be looking at different aspects of the Wolves lineup heading into next season. We will have plenty of time to dive in – it’s going to be another long summer.