Well, it’s over now.
Last night, the Minnesota Timberwolves dropped the season finale to the Utah Jazz, at home, and it was possibly Rick Adelman’s last game as an NBA Head Coach. What you would think would be a passionate, emotional, send-off type of performance, honoring one of the league’s greatest coaches, turned out to be just-another, underwhelming performance that ended in disappointment.
It’s been openly suggested, myself included, that Adelman may have lost the proverbial coaches-spirit long ago. The type of passion, necessary to spark an inspired, second-half run into the postseason was just not something the 68 year old was capable of doing. There are other variables at play, like player-performance and things like luck, but ultimately I believe Adelman is going to be pegged with many of the things that went awry this season. I also believe we’re going to find out that last night’s game against the Jazz was, indeed, his last game as the Wolves coach.
Lethargically, the Wolves fell behind Utah, as the Jazz hit a flurry (see the theme, here?) of jumpers and uncontested layups, during the first quarter. Adelman’s, new, favorite starting-five of Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer, Kevin Love, and Gorgui Dieng trotted out against Trey Burke, Alex Burks, Jeremy Evans, Gordon Hayward, and Derrick Favors. Love showed his refined skills in front of the Target Center crowd during the first quarter, for the final time, as he grabbed three-rebounds and tallied as many-assists. However, Love shot one of six from the field and scored only four points. Martin sat atop the scoring category on the Wolves end, having scored five-points by the end of the opening frame.
A motivated effort from the second unit narrowed the gap between the Wolves and Jazz on the scoreboard, during the second quarter, as Alexey Shved, Robbie Hummel, Dante Cunningham, Luc Mbah a Moute and Ronnie Turiaf collectively-managed to score 16 points. The Wolves outscored Utah 31-20 in the quarter, and the lagging performance in the first was somewhat negated.
In games such as last night’s, when there’s little to play for looking at things a micro perspective — it’s tough to motivate ‘star’ players, like the Wolves starters. This is both-frustrating and understandable. Yes, there’s no reason to hustle only to hurt self in a ‘meaningless’ game, but, at the same time, if this is Adelman’s final act — you’d think there’d be a unified effort to ‘win one for the gipper’…….or something.
Kevin Martin continued to carry Minnesota throughout the second half, and with his 19 points the Wolves found a way to tie things late, sending the game into overtime despite erasing the large, first quarter deficit. Both teams scored 11 points in overtime, but, as cliche as the season has gone; the Wolves couldn’t get overcome the proverbial hump, not during this game, and nowhere throughout the entire season.
“I really thought we were going to win this game. I thought we’d come out and play a lot harder, and with more energy, but it didn’t happen.” Adelman said, “The starters couldn’t get anything going. In the fourth quarter we got going, we had opportunities to win the game, but we couldn’t convert. But, give them credit, they (Jazz) came in and beat us.”
Continuing with quotations.
“We fought hard in the fourth quarter, and the two-overtime periods,” Love said, “That was good, but we felt, if we played hard from the start, that we could have won this game.”
The somber mood as Adelman and Love answered questions, postgame, reflected that the Wolves didn’t really have any interest in playing the Jazz, last night. While both said all the things to show that the team approached this game professionally, the questions that these two prepared for were those on everyone’s mind heading into the offseason. You can listen/watch for yourself, here, in a video provided by the Star Tribune.
- Kevin Martin — 36 points on 12 of 24 field goals while also connecting on 9 of 10 free throw attempts.
- Trey Burke — 32 points.
- Alexey Shved (C’mon, I had to write his name in this section at least once this season) — 11 points in 17 minutes.