Encouraged by discouragement

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Highest plus/minus: Antonio Daniels (+17)
Lowest plus/minus: DeShawn Stevenson (0)

I guess it's the sign of a good team when you can play so unevenly and still come away with a 14 point win.  In that sense, I'm happy, because I think we were really all over the place tonight.  

Take the first quarter.  DeShawn Stevenson was really hot early, but once he cooled off, the offense went cold, and the defense allowed Craig Smith to look like Karl Malone.  Roger Mason eventually provided a nice spark in the second, and the starters came out great after halftime, but Minnesota again made a run to cut it down to 8.  Ultimately, they couldn't contain Brendan Haywood on the offensive glass, and we came away with a nice margin of victory.

Obviously, guys like Brendan Haywood, Roger Mason, and DeShawn Stevenson played well, but I have a problem with Antawn Jamison once again taking more shots than Caron Butler.  It also didn't help that Craig Smith had an insane game, mostly with Jamison guarding him.  I like that Jamison can create his own shot, and despite what David Berri may think, it's a skill to be a high-usage player, but when he's shooting so many bad three-pointers early in the shot clock, it helps nobody.  Caron Butler is a much more efficient player than Antawn Jamison, so can we please be more patient and create a better opportunity for Butler?  I'd like to see those two run the screen and roll together, especially against bigger teams.

Speaking of, I can see how teams with two post players could just carve us up.  If we're dealing with just one post player, Brendan Haywood can completely take him out of the game, like he did with Al Jefferson tonight.  If we're dealing with two, then you'll have nights like last night where someone like Craig Smith goes off.  I don't really know what we can do about that, especially without Darius Songaila, but it'll probably hurt down the road against a team like Detroit or Indiana (with Ike Diogu).

But again, it's the sign of a good team when you don't play well and still win by 14.  In the end, last night was encouraging.  

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