Timberwolves breathe rare air

Timberwolves breathe rare air

Photo by Wm Jas

The strangest moment in this strange and amazing game came in the second quarter, just after Utah's Deron Williams, leading a three-on-two break, deftly wrapped the ball around his body and, in almost the same motion, slithered through two Minnesota defenders for a soft layup. Willams was in the process of raining shots from pretty much every spot on the floor and with this hard-to-comprehend basket, had just given his team a nine point lead. Right then, Utah seemed on the verge of running away with the game. 

But the Wolves' Jonny Flynn was not to be outdone. Just one possession later, he led a fast break of his own, in which he semi-awkwardly passed the ball between his own legs to a trailing Kevin Love. Flynn's play had none of the purpose or easy grace of Williams's layup: the spacing on the break was weird; the pass was unnecessary and a little homely. Flynn looked a lot like an over-eager kid trying way too hard to impress his older brother. 

In many ways, that play typified the entire game. The Wolves, Flynn and Corey Brewer in particular, were constantly making questionable decisions rooted in a sort of adolescent zealotry. There were passes to nowhere, terribly ill-advised shots, out-of-control bodies. In short, it looked like there was no way the Wolves could keep pace with the composed Jazz. And yet, with Ryan Gomes out and the offense slogging along accordingly--the absence of Gomes's court awareness, passing and movement was noticeable all game--with Williams making play after deft, muscular play, it was this wild intensity that eventually, improbably won the Wolves the game.

In the second half, fueled largely by this jittery energy, the Wolves played some of their heaviest defense of the year. They trapped ball-handlers; they rotated hard to shooters; they denied passing lanes and scrapped for the ball. Brewer, for all of his goofitude, was at the center of it all. He dribbled the ball high and wild, doing everything off of the wrong foot, constantly looking as if he were about to kind of flutter skyward; but somehow his shots fell. He scrambled all over the floor on defense, yet he came up with two massive blocks and, in one of the game's most important plays, drew a charge on Carlos Boozer with 26.7 seconds left.

But the last word belonged to Flynn. Despite all the mis-appropriated energy, despite being overpowered by Williams, Flynn's game finally matched his bravado. On a night when the Wolves struggled to move the ball and create open looks, Flynn hit shots from everywhere--from deep threes to twisting bank shots in traffic. And, fittingly, he had the games final points, leaving Williams heavy-footed at the top of the key with a sudden first step.  None of it made sense, but it was a pretty thrilling spectacle.     

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