Monday, November 8, 2010

Are the Timberwolves for Real III?

It's starting to look like, yes, the Timberwolves are for real. And I'm not talking about the 6-2 pre-season Wolves who got Minnesotans thinking about 30 to 40 wins in 2010-2011. No, unfortunately, if the Timberwolves are for real--if they are who we think they are--I'm afraid it's the 1-6 Wolves with their 5 game losing streak in which they have now been out-scored an average of 120-94.

Perhaps the worst of the 5 was last night, when they hit their average, losing 120-94. But this time the loss was to the previously winless Houston. The Rockets ran out to a 26-14 1st quarter lead, then put the game away at 60-37 by half-time.

Luke Ridnour, the star of the Wolves' pre-season, slid even deeper into a recent funk, scoring just 2 points with 2 assists and 2 turnovers. The Wolves were outscored by 11 points when he was on the court.

But that was nothin' compared to Kevin Love, the Wolves' erstwhile "best player." Love totaled a team-high 16 points and 16 rebounds, but his side was down 21 points with him on the court. Then there's last year's off-guard, now coming off the bench, Cory Brewer, who nevertheless was praised by coach Kurt Rambis recently for bringing some energy off the bench. He scored 10, but the Wolves' gave up a staggering 26 points more than they scored when Cory was out there on the court. The Wolves were also -20 when Wayne Ellington, recently deposed by rookie Wesley Johnson as the starting off-guard, was on the court.

Johnson scored just 4 points but was just -6. Darko Milicic scored 7 and was -4, and Michael Beasley scored 15 and went -5. Sebastien Telfair continued to take minutes away from Ridnour, scoring 7 points, but with just 1 assist, and a -8. Nikola Pekovic scored 12 but went -12.

It isn't getting any easier, with a visit to the L.A. Lakers on Tuesday, and 5 of the next 8 games overall are on the road. Still, home contests against the N.Y. Knicks and L.A. Clippers are intermixed. A failure to win those 2 games will be the icing on the cake of am utter collapse since the end of the pre-season. If the Wolves can't beat the Clips at home, a 1-16 record by the end of November is not out of the question, and David Kahn's claim that the Wolves' roster is "vastly better" than the one he inherited will have turned out to be a cruel joke.

And if 1-16 turns out to be what it is, it's not too early to be thinking about a new coach, even if such a move would represent an admission of failure. Because that, after all, is what 1-16 would be, a failure, especially if the W-L record continues to be just the tip of the iceberg, wherein the tip of the iceberg is the W-L record and the rest of the iceberg is the failure to even compete that we've seen over the past 5 games.

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