Greetings. Youngblood here, for a final time tonight.
Man, where to start?
How about here: I've covered a few losses this season, but I thought the mood around the Wolves locker room was the most frustrated yet. Kevin Love called the loss the Wolves' worst this season, "by far." Wolves coach Kurt Rambis sounded as exasperated as he has all season. Here is a snippet:
“We only played one decent quarter,” Rambis said. “Turning the ball over, they had 25 points off our turnovers, 54 points in the paint, 20 second-chance points, their bench killed us.”
“Our defense was sub-par, at best, tonight," Rambis continued. "The effort was non-existent for the vast majority of the ball game. … Until the point is driven home that we need to play defense in order to win, until that point is driven home with our guys, until it’s driven home to them that the basketball is a very valuable possession – not something to be kicked around – we’re always going to struggle. We will always struggle to win ball games.”
Tyrus Thomas scored all night on Beasley. Love struggled on defense, too. and Kwame Brown had his way with Darko Milicic for much of the night.
And what a boatload of mistakes. Beasley missing two free throws down the stretch in regulation. Love missing a technical free throw. Jonny Flynn fouling D.J. Augustin on a missed late three-pointer. Augustin hit two of three to tie the game and force an overtime.
While we're at it, there were decisions made by Rambis that I don't agree with, either.
Darko sits on the bench for almost all of the third quarter while the team rallies, doesn't play at all in the fourth, and he's in there for overtime, expected to be loose, warm and ready to create? Give me a break. No surprise he had a key turnover in overtime that led to a Bobcats bucket.
And how about Luke Ridnour? He played nearly 11 minutes in the third quarter as the Wolves grab the league. And then he sits for the entire fourth quarter while Flynn played. And then he's supposed to jump back in for overtime? I don't get that at all. Indeed, the only way this makes sense to me is that Flynn was being given a 12-minute, fourth-quarter audition for a potential trade partner.
But Rambis is right on talking about defense and turnovers. Charlotte getting nearly a quarter of its points off Wolves turnovers is horrible. Darko had five, Johnson three, Flynn and Kosta Koufos and Love two apiece.
But back to the defense. I know it's the last thing to expect a young team to master. But still...
"We've worked on our defense since training camp," Rambis said. "It's been a focal point of what we do in practice. It's been the focal point of our preparation for games. ... Guys have to learn to do things individually and collectively in order to defend the myriad of of offensive sets you'll see in the NBA. They have to be focused and engaged and intense. And it takes all five guys."
That's it for tonight. Jerry will pick up the team tomorrow.