Monthly Archives: November 2012

Another One Bites the Dust: Budinger Tears Meniscus

The obvious good news is that it’s not an ACL tear.  The obvious bad news is that it requires surgery.

How serious is a meniscus tear?  A recent example of this injury is Blake Griffin, who tore his medial meniscus (Chase tore the lateral meniscus–I don’t know if that’s a meaningful difference) in July during Team U.S.A. workouts and was ready to go in Clippers training camp in October.  A rough estimate for his timeline would be 2 or 3 months, I think.  They’ll know more after surgery.

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NUMB#RS Check, 6 Games In

5 Notable Stats

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Bullish Defense (BULLS 87, Wolves 80)

Bo Ryan’s face while watching tonight’s beat-em-up halfcourt struggle in Chicago.

Without Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls are the NBA’s Wisconsin Badgers.  There are no elite athletes or SportsCenter top plays.  Just execution and defense.  They set big screens.  They use most of the shot clock.  They talk on defense.  They rotate on defense.  They push people around in the lane.  At United Center, they push people around without fear of hearing a whistle blown.  The pictures are not pretty, but the final score is in Chicago’s favor.

All of those qualities were on display in Chicago tonight as the Wolves fell to the Bulls 87-80 in a game that felt neck-and-neck until Marco Belinelli (of all people) caught fire in the early part of the 4th Quarter.  The Italian shooter made three treys in the first 2:05 of the fourth, extending a 4-point lead to 9.  A 9-point deficit to the Bulls in Chicago might as well be 30.  Everything felt like a struggle from that point forward–and that’s just me watching on the couch.  I can’t even imagine how Dante Cunningham and Derrick Williams felt when Taj Gibson was swatting their shots into the third row.  Gibson is truly an incredible defensive player.  So is Joakim Noah, who also passes at an elite level and even showed off some fancy footwork on the block.  The game-clinching play was when Noah did an Al Jefferson-like array of pivots that eventually left Nikola Pekovic in his dust as he laid in an easy two.

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Preview Post: Wolves vs BULLS

Joakim Noah leads the Bulls tonight against the Wolves

The Wolves play the Bulls tonight. The Bulls aren’t the same without Derrick Rose.

They struggle to create their own shots.

But they’re still 3-2.

The Wolves are in a similar situation without Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio – their core.

They’re 4-1, after some inspired play last night and in other games.

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Heavyweight Slugfest (WOLVES 96, Pacers 94)

Nothing seems easy when David West comes to town.

The largest first-quarter differential was 4, when the Wolves led 17-13.  Early in the second, the Wolves built an 8-point advantage that quickly dwindled, eventually to a 1-point Pacers halftime lead.  The third was a back-and-forth that mostly kept the differential under 5, although that is exactly where the Wolves lead sat at the end of the quarter.  Building on that momentum, Minnesota extended the lead to 8, two times early in the fourth.  But once again, the Pacers answered, with George Hill scoring 7 points in slightly over 2 minutes to cut the Wolves lead to 2.  From there, it was a heavyweight fight, each team trading hard-fought two-point baskets.  A key play to extend the lead to a whopping 4 points was when Andrei Kirilenko cleverly stole the inbounds pass following a Shved layup, and quickly found Alexey under the hoop for an easy two.  When Dante Cunningham’s 20-foot swish extended the lead to 6 with only 0:39 remaining, the game was over.

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Person of Interest: Paul George

Paul George is a baller

Illustration by Howard Shum. Go check it out.

Paul George is good at professional basketball. Really good.

We’ve raved before about George’s underrated defensive prowess, but it’s worth reiterating: George can defend the hell out of the ball. George has those extremely long arms, that effortless footwork, and excellent positioning that, on a good day, might remind you of Scottie Pippen.

The Wolves will have to contend with George tonight, when the Wolves take on the Pacers at Target Center at 7 PM. But  they won’t just have to plan for George’s disruptive defense…

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Dwightless Fun (WOLVES 90, Magic 75)

If Magic fans want to enjoy this season, they should learn to appreciate J.J. Redick.

Let’s start with the simple: The Magic are bad.  I don’t care if they arrived at MSP International with a 2-1 record and a Big Baby Davis MVP Campaign in full swing.  By trading away Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson and getting nothing but Arron Afflalo of value in return, the Magic are a gutted roster headed straight to the lottery.  Even with Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love missing, the Wolves needed to win this game.  Oh, and I didn’t even mention that Jameer Nelson, the Magic’s veteran point guard, was out with an injury.  Nelson was replaced by former Purdue star and not good NBA player, E’Twan Moore.  So yeah, this was a game the Wolves should win.

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Game Preview: Magic vs. Timberwolves

Big Baby wants to play twister with Wolves’ defenders

Tonight, the 2-1 Timberwolves take on the 2-1 Magic at Target Center. Orlando is a vastly different team from the one that killed the Wolves last season. Gone are Dwight Howard and advanced stats hero Ryan Anderson. In are…Aaron Afflalo? More below the fold.

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HOW BOUT THEM T-WOLVES?!

HOW BOUT THEM COWBOYS?! T-WOLVES?!

Alexey Shved!  What a comeback!  I was at my wits’ end in that 3rd Quarter when the barrage of Brooklyn bombs rained down from three-point land and the Wolves couldn’t get a stop to save their life.  This bit of resignation sums it up best:

Let’s take it from the top…

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Game Preview: Wolves vs. Nets

Brook Lopez could be a tough cover for Pek

 


A few things about the Wolves game tonight against the New Jersey, including the Nets’ star-studded backcourt, active forwards, and a man named Brook. Check it out below the fold.

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Game Recap: Clint Eastwood Edition (RAPTORS 105, Wolves 86)

Don’t worry, no Invisible Obama here.

The Good – Andrei Kirilenko

This was exactly the type of performance we hope to see from AK47.  The energetic Russian was all over the floor, putting together a vintage across-the-board stat line of 17 points (on 6-7 shooting) 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks and 1 steal.

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Things to look for in Wolves-Raptors

Alan Anderson – AP Photo/David Goldman

Fresh off the opening-night, grind-it-out win over Sacramento, the Wolves travel to Toronto for Game Number 2 today.  The contest will be televised on FSN North and NBA TV.  If memory serves, that combination led to a dual blackout last year, and no League Pass recourse as the game was “available” on local networks.  Here’s hoping that snafu has been fixed and Twin Cities fans will be able to watch.  A few things to look for in this one:

  • Kyle Lowry – If the season ended today, the only things keeping Lowry out of the MVP conversation would be James Harden and the Raptors .000 winning percentage.  The feisty point guard is leading his team in per-game points (24.5) assists (8.0) rebounds (7.5) and steals (4.0).  Remember when Kevin Garnett was the best player on the Timberwolves–with separation from 2nd-best that would rival any disparity in league history?  Well, the gulf between Lowry and the Raps’ next-best isn’t that big.  But he is, by far, the Raptors best player. Continue reading

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J.J. & Stiemer Refuse to Lose: WOLVES 92, Kings 80

The Timberwolves won a game in which Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love were both inactive due to injury.  Heck, they won it by 12 points.  Not so bad, right?  It was ugly.  The Wolves made 32 of 87 field goals; a lousy 36.8 percent.  Fortunately, the opponent Kings were equally inaccurate with their shot, hitting 36.0 percent.  From downtown things were especially rough: The Wolves made 2 of 17 threes; the Kings 3 of 16.  Of all Wolves players only J.J. Barea had a standout performance on the offensive end.  With a game-best +26, very reflective of his game impact, Barea chipped in 21 points and 5 assists.  He was largely responsible for a 2nd Quarter surge that saw the lead swell to 17 points.  That lead would evaporate largely due to continued shooting woes and poor transition defense–the one area in which the Kings were not dreadful last night was pushing the ball for easy baskets in transition.

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Wolves-Kings: 5 Questions

Questions greatly outnumber answers as we enter closing hours of Preseason and begin the real thing.  Here are five of mine pertaining to tonight’s opening tilt versus the Kings of Sacramento:

1) Does a Timberwolf shooting guard steal the show? Of the possible [realistic] subplots to the early Timberwolves schedule, I think Brandon Roy or Alexey Shved (or both!) exceeding expectations would be most beneficial to the team’s hope of making the playoffs. Will Roy resemble his All-NBA self? Will Shved look more like the guy who out-dueled Manu Ginobili on a global stage, or the one who at other times rode the bench when David Blatt saw enough between-the-legs passes for one night?

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