Minnesota Timberwolves’ Coaching Blunders
So I went to the Timberwolves game tonight. I figured they would get blown out since they were playing Detroit, but I got a glimmer of hope when I noticed that Detroit basically waived the white flag by sitting out Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, and Rasheed Wallace. It looked to be a cakewalk as the Wolves led by as many as 21 in the first half. Randy Wittman allowed that lead to evaporate to five points without calling a timeout until he took one to draw up the last play of the half. When your team is down big, your coach says just try to get it under ten before halftime. Everybody knows that. Everybody except Wittman I guess. When a team is busy outscoring you by 16, maybe you should call a timeout at some point to stop the momentum. I’m no Phil Jackson, but I think a timeout would have worked wonders for the Wolves.
The second blunder came in the 4th quarter. I actually thought it was wise to pull Al Jefferson with 50 seconds or so remaining in the third quarter. Use that time plus the intermission to rest him up for the fourth quarter push. Good idea, right? Yes, but you can’t wait until there’s less than six minutes to bring him back in. He was the best player on the floor, despite Rodney Stuckey’s game-high 27, and he should have played more than 34 minutes, especially when you consider he wasn’t in foul trouble. What’s worse is Detroit didn’t have an answer for him. When they actually fed him the ball inside he was either highly effective (9 for 12 shooting) or he’d earn a trip to the foul line (8 of 11). He finished with 26 points, but he should have had 40. If his coach would have left him in and his teammates (Foye 6 for 14, Gomes 3 for 10, McCants 2 for 10) would have got him the ball in the post instead of throwing up jumpers, the Wolves would have been bragging about their five-game home winning streak. As it stands, I’m left to talk about their mistakes.
I blame Kevin McHale and Glen Taylor for a lot of the problems here in Minnesota. The players get some of the blame. However, the bulk of the blame rest squarely on Randy Wittman’s shoulders. I truly believe that if a timeout was called during the 2nd quarter run and Big Al wasn’t left to rot on the bench for more than half of the fourth quarter, the Wolves would have won. Plain and simple.