Greetings. Youngblood here for a final time tonight.
Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Wolves play well for three quarters, execute on offense, keep the defensive mistakes to a minimum, build a double-figure lead, then lose.
Happened again, for the seventh time this season. It only hurt more that it was former Wolves player Al Jefferson leading the way down the stretch, scoring 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, as the Jazz turned a 12-point deficit to start the final quarter into a 5-point victory.
After it was over, coach Kurt Rambis again talked about the youthful errors, mistakes in judgement and defensive lapses that have plagued this team. None of that is new, and none of that is incorrect. But, to me, if you listened between the lines, it sounded like Rambis was saying this is a reality fans will have to get used to this year.
Why? Because of the reasons Rambis listed for the loss: Not enough one-on-one defensive talent. Lack of a dominant veteran to take over the game. Lack of a top-notch point guard to play in a Western Conference filled with them.
Well, folks, none of that is going to change any time soon. That said, this fourth-quarter collapse -- Utah scored 41 fourth quarter points -- was outlandish. Utah had a 14-0 edge in fast-break points, hit on 14 of 20 shots from the field, turned six Wolves turnovers into seven points and had a 24-10 edge in the paint, a stat exacerbated once Darko Milicic left the game with five fouls.
Bright spots? Martell Webster continues to emerge as a potential go-to guy in the fourth quarter. He scored nine points in the fourth, but unfortunately also had a couple key turnovers and two fouls that resulted in three-point plays. After the game he took the blame for his mistakes and said he'd let the team down. He is young, but he's a veteran and I think he'll continue to improve. Maybe he can become something of a veteran presence the Wolves need.
Love had 25 points and 19 rebounds, but he struggled on defense against Jefferson down the stretch. Michael Beasley, who had 24 and 10, showed signs of taking over for a while in the fourth.
Unfortunately, it's back to the drawing board. Jonny Flynn still needs some time to get back to top form. He struggled on defense and had three turnovers and just two assists. Darko Milicic is still not quite 100 percent with that ankle sprain. He played valiantly, but not anywhere near his top form. Wes Johnson scored 14 points while going 4-for-6 on three-point shots, but he also struggled on defense in the fourth quarter.
I'll get back to you after tomorrow's practice. Have a good night.