Thursday May 20, 2004
WOLVES BEAT KINGS, ADVANCE
LECROY SLAM IN 9th GIVES TWINS WIN
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
THE BACHELOR THOUGHTS
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
WOLVES ADVANCE, TWINS COMEBACK!
I don't even know where to start. That may have been the best basketball game I have ever watched. I know this is primarily a baseball website, but I would be embarrassed to call myself a Minnesotan if I didn't talk about the Minnesota Timberwolves and their big 83-80 Game 7 win over the Sacramento Kings. Even though the Wolves were clearly the better team throughout 95% of the game, I was nervous the entire game, until Chris Webber's 3-pointer at the buzzer rattled out and the Wolves had won. I had to keep score, point-by-point on paper just to keep my mind working and keep me from getting too nervous.
KG 4 MVP - I say "Absolutely!"
Kevin Garnett has taken a lot of grief in past years. Last night, on his 28th birthday, Garnett answered every single question that has ever been presented to him by his critics. With their first round win over the Denver Nuggets, Garnett had already led his team into the 2nd round of the playoffs. So, that question was finally done and answered. What other questions has KG had to answer? What have been the questions about Garnett's game in the past?
First, many people thought that he has a tendency to be too hyped for his own good at the beginning of games. Well, Garnett hit his first shot of the game less than a minute in, and he stayed under control the rest of the game.
People question his willingness to take big shots in big situations. Well, here are all of the Timberwolves Field Goals in the 4th quarter:
8:50 - Garnett turnaround jumper - 66-62
7:35 - Garnett four foot jumper off glass - 68-64
7:07 - Garnett hook shot from 3 feet - 70-64
5:40 - Garnett lay in - 72-66
5:03 - Garnett big dunk after crossover - 74-68
3:40 - Garnett long 3-pointer at end of shot clock - 77-70 (Injury Update - I think I threw out my shoulders when this shot went in. My arms flew too quickly into the air (like KG to the right). I didn't feel it at first, cuz I was too happy. But minutes later, that really hurt!!)
That's it! In the fourth quarter, Kevin Garnett was 6-9 from the field with 14 points. I have to also point out that he did not take one forced shot, other than those at the end of the shot clock. So, he didn't compromise his team or his own style of play just to take over. He stayed unselfish. If Gary Trent could make a lay-up, or Mark Madsen could catch the ball, he would have had even more assists. Also, he showed his all around game with a big steal with 33 seconds left. He also had a big blocked shot on a Brad Miller lay-in attempt with 2.5 seconds left.
Many have said, including myself, that Garnett's biggest problem is his high turnover rate. Well, last night, in the biggest game of his career, Kevin Garnett had just two turnovers in 46 minutes.
Garnett did all he could to push his team into the Western Conference Finals. All told, and with all due respect to Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett is the best all-around player in the NBA. Maybe with last night's performance, people will finally understand that.
When Michael Jordan finally led the Chicago Bulls to their first NBA title, people finally credited him for being the best player. Why? Because he could score? No. He always did that. Because he grabbed some rebounds and dished out some assists? No. Because he played All-NBA style defense? No. People credit Jordan with being able to make his teammates better. He made Scottie Pippen a great player. But he also made guys like Bill Cartwright, John Paxson, Will Perdue and other decent, contributing players better.
Kevin Garnett does the same thing. He has always done that, but now that the Wolves are winning in the playoffs, he should start getting credit for it. He has helped make Fred Hoiberg, Trenton Hassell and some other reserve-type players major contributors. He will pass it to anyone and expect that player to make a shot, or make the right play. (Read Patrick Reusse's article on Garnett)
Did you know? The last time a conference finals were played in Minnesota was 50 years ago when the Minneapolis Lakers still called Minneapolis home.
OK, that was the Kevin Garnett Hour. Thank you for reading. That said, I would be remiss to say that the only reason the Wolves won this series was because of Garnett. He did get a lot of help from a lot of players.
Sam Cassell deserves a lot of credit. Coming off of two really poor games where he faced injury and foul trouble (and a major case of bad decision-making), Cassell stepped up from the start. In the first quarter, Cassell shot 5-8 from the field for 11 points. For the most part, he did stay under control and made good decisions. Near the end, you could see his back was bothering him, but he made two huge free throws with 16.2 seconds left in the game. And 2 big free throws with 3:10 to go. He ended the game shooting 6-12 from the field and 10-11 from the line for 23 points. He also had 7 assists.
Latrell Sprewell has carried the Wolves the last two games, or even just most of the series. He had an off game last night, but still contributed mightily. He scored 14 points, grabbed 4 rebounds and 2 steals. He also had six turnovers. However, he is the one who guarded Mike Bibby and made him work for everything. His defense this series has been even tighter than the previous series.
Wally Szczerbiak was great in the 2nd quarter. In the middle of the quarter, Wally scored four straight field goals for the Wolves. He hit a runner, a 15 footer, a 10 footer in the paint and another 15 footer. Of his five baskets, three of them came directly as a result of his own offensive rebound. He's still the Wolves best shooter, and if he can get some open shots, he could be huge in the next playoff series.
Trenton Hassell hit some shots early in the series for the Wolves. The Kings finally stopped giving him open 15 footers, but Hassell just went back to playing the unbelievable defense he has all year. It isn't by accident that Peja Stojacovik was 3-12 from the field last night and really struggled most of the series.
Fred Hoiberg is known for his shooting. He knocked down a number of big three-pointers in the series. But as the series went on, I noticed he was getting some tough defensive assignments and doing a great job. With Wally playing more, Hoiberg may play a little less, but we know that Fred will come through when Flip Saunders puts him in the game. And Flip knows what he'll get from him, so he will get a lot of playing time.
Mark Madsen was really bad in limited time last night. He dropped three passes that would have led to 3 dunks for himself. However, Madsen played a huge role for the Wolves all series long. His energy is unbelievable. I love watching him on defense and he is an incredible offensive rebounder.
Ervin Johnson is not at all flashy, but he plays solid defense. He plays great help defense and can block some shots. He actually surprises me sometimes with just enough athleticism to make big defensive stands. He also gets some offensive boards and is smart enough not to try to do too much with them.
Darrick Martin did his job. He played his 6 or 7 minutes a game until last night. He is not very good. Doesn't shoot well. Probably too slow on defense. But he gives Cassell a couple of minutes here and there. His ejection helped the Wolves win Game 5 because it also got Brad Miller ejected. He may be able to keep up with Gary Payton and Derek Fisher a little better.
Gary Trent played a little more in the Sacramento series. He has the ability to score and is strong. He needs to back down to no one! Also provides six fouls on Shaq.
Michael Olowokandi, well, hopefully he can give the Wolves six fouls without screwing things up too bad!
And finally, we may get to see Oliver Miller get some playing time. Don't expect a lot, but his six fouls will be very valuable to the Wolves team in this upcoming series. But Miller is very skilled and could contribute some more. But in reality, the reason he was kept on the roster instead of another point guard is to foul Shaquille O'Neal.
The Kings Side
On the game, the Kings shot just 39.5% from the field. Even more alarming was that they were just 8-17 (47.1%) from the free throw line.
First, Sacramento Kings fans need to lay off of Chris Webber. He battled injury and other issues to get back and play. He is nowhere near 100%, and in the biggest game of the year, he did come through. He was 8-17 for 16 points and grabbed 8 rebounds last night.
Also, Doug Christie should get a lot more credit for what he does for the Kings. He has been 1st team all defense the last few years. He can hit open shots, handle the ball and pass. He is just very good. He went 9-17 last night including 3-5 from behind the arc for 21 points.
Actually, Brad Miller did very well. He hit too many open 18 footers throughout the game. He scored 11 points and grabbed 8 rebounds.
Mike Bibby was held up to lofty standards after Game 1. He is an incredible talent, but he was inconsistent last night. Even so, he scored 15 points with 8 rebounds and 8 assists.
I think it is time for Peja Stojacovik to start taking some grief. What did he do for the Kings after Game 3? And some people thought he should have been considered an MVP candidate. Well, in a huge game last night, Peja was just 3-12 from the field and scored just 8 points.
Having Anthony Peeler around would have helped the Kings (especially since Rodney Buford didn't do much!). Had Bobby Jackson been able to play, the series would have been entirely different.
But hey, that's why they play the games. And, that's why the regular season matters so much. Having the home-court did make a big difference for the Wolves last night. The Wolves had the best record and the #1 seed. The Kings struggled down the stretch and fell down to the 4th seed.
I'll leave it at that. I am thrilled that the Wolves' season will continue. I am thrilled to see them play the Lakers in the Conference championship series. I don't like their chances, but anything can happen. That series starts already on Friday night at 8:00 on TNT in the Target Center. Again, if you have any questions or comments on the Wolves, Send Me an E-mail.
ATTA BOY, MATT LECROY!!
TWINS 6 BLUE JAYS 5
The Twins played an early game yesterday in Toronto. Adversity and injury left the team without much of a bench, but Matthew Lecroy allowed the team's flight back to Minneapolis a great one!
The Twins fell behind early again. With Kyle Lohse on the mound, the Blue Jays scored two second inning runs. But after that, Lohse was very good in the middle innings. The Twins tied the game on a two-run 6th inning double by Jose Offerman. The Jays took the lead back in the bottom of the inning, and added two more in the bottom of the 7th on a Vernon Wells single.
So, heading into the 9th inning, the Twins were down 5-2. The Blue Jays brought in their closer, Terry Adams, who struggled Tuesday night but still got the save. This time, things were different. Torii Hunter led off the inning with a single. Michael Ryan flew out. But then Michael Cuddyer singled and Henry Blanco hit an infield single. (yes, Henry Blanco had an infield single!) So with one out, the bases loaded and Alex Prieto was due up. Ron Gardenhire went to the only available player on his bench, Matthew Lecroy. And Mr. Lecroy came through in a big way. He launched a shot deep over the fence just right of centerfield to give the Twins an unlikely and incredibly exciting lead in the 9th. The next two hitters were retired.
So the game went to the bottom of the 9th. The inning started a little ominous when Joe Nathan walked the leadoff batter. But he induced Frank Catalanotto to hit into a double play before Reed Johnson grounded out to end the game. Aaron Fultz picked up the win. The Save was Joe Nathan's 13th of the season.
The Twins had such a limited bench because of some nagging injuries. Shannon Stewart missed his second consecutive game with his foot/plantar fasciatis injury. Doug Mientkiewicz did not play because of his strained back. Luis Rivas (who wouldn't have been a good bench option anyway) was nursing a sore groin. That is in addition to Corey Koskie (sternum), Nick Punto (oblique) and Joe Mauer (knee) who are on the disabled list.
The Twins really need Joe Mauer back in their every day lineup. Watching Matthew Lecroy behind the plate is difficult and he can't throw anyone out. Watching Henry Blanco hit (after his one week of success) has been even more frustrating. Yesterday, Mauer played a game (as the DH) for the Twins Extended Spring Training team in Ft. Myers. He went 2-4 with a homer. It will be interesting to see how his knee handles the activity. He is expected to DH again before catching a few innings later in the week. If things go well, he will then be sent on a rehab assignment, probably to both New Britain and Rochester.
Big day for a couple of former Twins. Eric Milton improved to 5-0. Bobby Kielty hit two homers for the A's.
Tonight, the Twins begin a four-game series with the Chicago White Sox at the Metrodome. Last weekend the Twins took two out of three from the Sox. Jim Souhan wrote a great article about that series discussing that the Twins won 2 of 3 despite being outscored 14-7 in the series. Here are the pitching matchups for the series:
Thursday - 7:10 - Seth Greisinger (1-2, 5.33, 1.46, .286) vs. Esteban Loaiza (4-3, 4.20, 1.28, .254)
Friday - 7:10 - Carlos Silva (5-1, 4.01, 1.42, .302) vs. Mark Buehrle (3-1, 3.99, 1.37, .284)
Saturday - 6:10 - Brad Radke (3-2, 4.09, 1.33, .306) vs. Neal Cotts (0-1, 2.45, 1.09, .196)
Sunday - 1:10 - Johan Santana (2-1, 4.70, 1.37, .280) vs. Jon Garland (3-2, 3.62, 1.35, .262)
Any thoughts on the Twins or the upcoming White Sox series? E-mail me.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
Redwings 7, Norfolk 4 - Peter Munro improved to 5-2 with a 3.28 ERA with a solid five inning outing. He gave up three hits and no walks. He gave up one run and struck out four. Jesse Crain came in to get the last two outs (one strikeout) and record his 9th save of the season. LF Josh Rabe went 3-4 with two doubles. Michael Restovich and Terry Tiffee each had a double. Augie Ojeda had a two-run homer.
NEW BRITAIN ROCK CATS
Rockcats 1, Portland 7 - Jim Abbott started and gave up 9 hits, a walk and 4 runs (3 earned) in 6 innings. SS Tommy Watkins went 2-3. DH Kevin West went 2-4 wit ha double. Luis Maza had a double.
JD Durbin was put on the Disabled List with a 'slight tear in his labrum'. He will have arthroscopic surgery and will miss at least a month.
FORT MYERS MIRACLE
Miracle 12, Lakeland 1 - Big win for the Miracle and the bats put on a show. But Matt Yeatman is quietly putting together a decent season. Yesterday, he went 7 innings and gave up five hits and a walk and one run. He struck out 7. On the year, he is now 2-1 with a 2.83 ERA. Remember, he came to the Twins in the Matt Kinney/Javy Valentin trade before the 2003 season.
The offense was led by CF Ron Perodin when went 5-6 with five singles. That improved his batting average to .314. 1B Danny Matienzo went 3-3 with a double and 3 RBI. 3B Brett Tamburrino went 3-5 with two doubles. SS Felix Molina went 3-5 with a double, a triple and 3 RBI.
THE SWING OF THE QUAD CITIES
Quad Cities and the rest of the Midwest League had the day off.
Any questions or comments on the Twins minor league system, e-mail me.
THE BACHELOR FINALE THOUGHTS
Jesse Palmer had a huge and difficult decision to make last night. (Well, not last night, but his decision was revealed last night) Tara or Jessica? Jessica or Tara? What to do? What to do? Must be rough! Does he pick the hot chick? Does he pick the smart chick? Oh yeah, they're both hot and both smart.
Last night, the women went to visit Jesse's family, and they grilled both women. Then he went ring shopping with both of them. Then, he got to spend one final night with each of the women.
In the end, he chose Jessica. The show's producers surprised us by having her show up first. In past seasons, they had the winner arrive second, so that made things interesting. Jessica is great! I can't say anything negative about his selection.
But I feel awful for Tara (She has been the one I have touted the last 6 weeks or so even after seeing her barfing last night!). She seems absolutely incredible! (And, if she's still single and happens to read this site, Tara, please e-mail me!)
Any thoughts on the show, Jesse's selection or anything else? E-mail me.
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
"I think that Jasmine will be done. But then again, I have thought that the last few weeks, so who knows what will happen when the votes are tabulated and announced tonight!"
Those were my thoughts yesterday on what would/should have happened on American Idol last night. Well, for the first time in awhile, I was actually right. It doesn't happen that often, so I have to mention it, right?
Jasmine Trias was voted off of American Idol last night meaning that Diana Degarmo and Fantasia Barrino will be in the finals next week.
Tamyra Gray sang a couple of songs for the crowd. She is incredibly talented. And, for LaToya London fans like me, just remember that Tamyra finished in 4th place during the first season of American Idol and she has experienced incredible success in music and on TV.
Also, Australian Idol, Guy Sebastian sang. I think that these hour-long results shows are just too long. 90% of it is just commercials for other American Idol contestants and shows, rather than the contestants that are still in it. I have no problem with that. It's just the way it is.
So, what do you think? Who is going to win? E-mail me.
That is it for today. Have yourself a great day! As always, if you have any questions or comments on anything, please e-mail me.
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