Hey hey, we're back on the winning track!
The number one thing that stood out tonight was that we rebounded. Granted Minnesota isn't one of those teams that bullies opponents on the boards but they're not incompetent either. From the moment the tip went up you could tell this issue had been addressed and they were doing something about it. It's one more thing to love about this team: they respond. It's really hard to beat a team with talent that is also aware enough to know when they're slipping off track in a certain area and cares enough to fix it.
The eye-popping stat of the night was us committing only 4 turnovers. Minnesota is a crappy defensive team but four turnovers? Are you kidding me? The `Wolves got a point off of those too. One...single...point. Wow. Most teams bank on a minimum of 15-16 a night. Allowing 1 point off of your turnovers is like grabbing a 14 point lead from the get-go.
We held Minnesota to 35% shooting overall and Al Jefferson to 45%, four points off of his average.
Add this all up and you have a great win, even if it was ugly and somewhat boring. We only shot 39% tonight. It didn't matter. At no time were we ever out of the driver's seat. That is exactly what low turnovers, good defense, and decent rebounding will do for you. Our usual M.O. has been low turnovers and great shooting, which is good, but this is so...so...SO much better. Offense will come and go. If you play like this every night you will win either way. The best teams in the league are very good on their off nights and completely unstoppable when they're on. If we keep this up that's going to be us in a while.
One other note: I love the strategy we've employed recently of making Brandon and Lamarcus the focus in the first quarter. It's really cleaned up that nasty slow-start problem. We're still absolutely an unselfish team, but the passing phase usually starts with the insertion of the White Unit. By that time the team is on track, we've scored some points, and the opponent is concentrating so much on our Big Two that the other guys are free to pick them apart like piranha. Through the second half it's all about the stars and whoever has shown themselves to be hot. To me this shows an understanding of strategy and a leap in maturity for the team.
--Lamarcus: 11 rebounds, 4 blocks. Enough said. He knew what we needed and took it upon his shoulders to provide it.
--Brandon Roy looks like he's just toying with people out there. It's like he's playing the game on a whole `nother level. The only thing that's keeping him from earth-shattering numbers is his low three-point shooting percentage. Don't take this guy for granted. He is special on his worst nights and phenomenal on his best.
--Sergio had some FUN out there against the horrid defense. He had 8 assists in his first 6 minutes. It's too bad we didn't get a little more of a blowout so he could get into double digits.
--James Jones trashed them too. He shot, he drove, he drew fouls. Ahhh...I like this guy. There, I said it. I really like this guy.
--Channing Frye grabbed 7 rebounds. He's really showing an understanding of his role too. Nice.
--Everyone else was decent, not great. Joel picked up 4 fouls in 11 minutes, which is not good. Then again he was asked to guard Al Jefferson which is not really his bag.
One-Sentence Game Summary
We beat a team we were supposed to beat without any trouble and exactly as planned...and how long has it been since we could say that?