I complained about how lame NBA games are live, and this one was largely gunk for three-plus quarters. The dancing mascots were fun, as were the guys doing their flying-Wallenda-brothers dunking-off-trampolines thing. Once Wolves fans smelled an actual win, though, the place got pretty loud, and that was pretty cool. It probably didn’t hurt that seemingly all of Minneapolis was roaring-ass drunk. It’s been sub-zero for a month (sub actual zero, not sub 32°F) and today was a blistering 40, so the town came out to party. People were laughingly jaywalking in front of trains; it was that kind of mood.
As to the game itself, well, anyone who really cares if the Blazers win or lose at this point (myself, I care no longer) should prepare for more of this. With Afflalo starting, the bench is back to its usual grab bag of ass self. Coach Stotts tried mixing things up by having Afflalo and Batum start the second quarter with his Sub Hub, which didn’t help much, and meant quarter’s end featured Gee and McCollum, which didn’t help at all.
It’s like one of those annoying cooking shows, where contestants are told to make something edible out of lettuce, bacon bits, cheese, and lobster eyeballs. You can mix up the ingredients all you want; the bacon bits will ruin everything.
The Blazers looked like they finally got worried late when Pekovic took an inbounds pass with 0.7 remaining to shoot and hooked it in. They did their magic-comeback thing and nothing fell. Defense can sometimes contribute to success in basketball making magic comebacks unnecessary, or so I am told.
I went with a friend who had never seen an NBA game live before. Her major take was that the court is really small. This is true. TV uses wide-angle lenses to capture all the players at once, and those lenses distort perspective quite a bit. The court is small, and guys are always smashing into each other. (Steve Blake in particular looks like a human pinball at times.)
Her minor take is that the game goes faster live than on TV. I agree. For one thing, dancing mascots are less painful than TV commercials; for another, brain-damaged announcers aren’t saying stupid shit all the time. (Instead, fans busily damaging their brains with $9 beers scream stupid shit, which is easy to ignore.)
Finally, she noted that the Wolves look a lot younger than the Blazers. If you subtract Garnett, who is basically a beloved cheerleader now, she’s right. Wiggins had what they call a “quiet” 18 points, he’s “long” and can “finish.” More fun than any of that were his three steals, all of the caught ya snoozing poke-away variety. Fans root hard for him and I can see why; he’s gonna be good.
BTW, Joel Freeland was active during warmups. Does that mean he’s almost ready to play? I dunno, nobody tells me these things. I do know Meyers Leonard was available, and did not play, with Dorell Wright taking all the backup-4 minutes. This is how Portland (5th in team rebounds) gets outboarded by the Timberwolves (27th) 45-36. Numbers!