Monthly Archives: December 2012

Happy New Year From Punch-Drunk Wolves

[Co-Authored by Andy & Patrick]

What a difference a year makes.  Last December 31 the Timberwolves were 0-3 and, despite some hugely entertaining early losses to Oklahoma and Miami, not yet familiar with winning basketball since Kevin Garnett’s departure. Now, after Ricky Mania brought a winning attitude to an organization sorely in need of competitive fire, and Rick Adelman and David Kahn brought some proven veterans to a young roster, we find ourselves 1 game over .500 and in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Here at Punch-Drunk Wolves, we’ve also come a long way in the last year. We basically started the blog on Opening Day (Christmas) last year.  Thanks in large part to shout-outs from Those Who Came Before Us – Canis Hoopus, Britt Robson, and Jim Petersen, among others –  we’ve built a modest but faithful readership, and for that, we’re thankful.

Wolves fans are blessed to have a bunch of really great writers covering the squad, and from a bunch of different, interesting angles. Along with Britt and the Canis crew (Stop-N-Pop, Oceanary, and now Eric in Madison in particular), you’ve got A Wolf Among Wolves, Howlin’ TWolf, TWolves Blog, Timberpups.com, the list goes on. (Pretty much just check our blog roll – it’s all there, but apologies if we missed anybody.)

With all the great Wolves coverage out there, that folks stop by here at all is much appreciated.

We’re always looking for ways to make the site better. If you have any suggestions, hit us up at punchdrunkwolves@gmail.com.  Or on Twitter (@PDWolves).  Input is [almost] always appreciated. All that jazz.

Here’s to a great – and equally important, HEALTHY – 2013.

So, with all that said, Happy New Year, and Go Wolves.

Now get off the Internetz, go on with your bad selves, and party like it’s 2004-05.

-Andy G & Patrick J

2 Comments

Filed under Features

Wolves Beat Suns, Beas is Schwag

Wes Johnson Jerseys: Worthless? Or just worth less than they used to be?

Wes Johnson Jerseys: Worthless? Or just worth less than they used to be?

Okay, folks, the Wolves are winners again. Hallelujah, rejoice. They beat the Phoenix Suns 111-107 last night at home.

They did it without Golden Boy Ricky Rubio, about whom I’d written a slurptastic game preview, in which I suggested Rubio and Love were/are/will be the keys to the Wolves winning anything significant. Kirilenko, Shved, and Pek are nice bit pieces – nicer than we’ve had since 2004-05 – but they’re dispensible in different ways. Rubio and Love aren’t, unless we’d flip one of them for someone even better. Pau Gasol probably doesn’t qualify, for those of you still fantasizing about a Love-Gasol trade. If you’re reading, that includes you, Kevin Love.)

A few thoughts from last night’s game:

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Timberwolves

Intel Report: Timberwolves vs Suns

Mike Beasley, suited up like a closer.

Mike Beasley, suited up like a closer.

The Wolves have lost four of their last five games. They are 3-2 since Ricky Rubio returned from injury. (Ricky sat out against Miami, because it was the second game of a back-to-back.) Rubio’s role is going to get bigger, and soon. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: give the kid more minutes.

He’s the key to our winning. Not JJ, not Ridnour, not Mal Lee, not Brandon Roy. Certainly not Josh Howard, Will Conroy, Troy Hudson, Sam Cassell, or Pooh Richardson. Not Derrick Williams, and not Dante Cunningham.

Ricky. Just Ricky. Throw K-Love in there too.

That’s what the Wolves basically have: two stars. One is still having his minutes limited (he’s now cleared to play 24 minutes, up from 18), basically nullifying his ability to make an impact by doing what he does – help the team win in lots of non-box score ways while on the floor. The other is out of shape and acting pouty and playing poorly.

Neither star is playing well. The Wolves are losing. End of story.

No need to overthink it. It’s great when guys like AK47 and Pek can carry the team to wins, and we love seeing Shved outperform expectations, but that’s not going to be a blueprint for winning in the playoffs. Which is what we want to do.

So what can be done?

Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Timberwolves

Like a Love Song

Love Music

“Like a Love Song” by Holly Grimsrud
Mixed Media on Paper, 24″ x 32″
(www.hollygrimsrudart.com)

1 Comment

Filed under Features, Timberwolves Art

INBOX: The Russian Revolution Edition

David Blatt (Photo brought to you by Alexander Chernykh via Twitter (@chernykh).

David Blatt (Photo brought to you by Alexander Chernykh via Twitter (@chernykh).

…in which Andy G and I break down candidates for the Brooklyn Nets’ coaching vacancy. (We don’t see PJ Carlesimo keeping the job either.)

Patrick J: Moving the Nets to Brooklyn and aggressively changing the team’s branding and player personnel wasn’t enough: Nets owner and Russian oligarch Mikhail Dmitrievitch Prokhorov made another big move today, firing lame-duck coach Avery Johnson. Since I’ve got the floor, I’ll start off the discussion with two words, and then throw the ball over to your court:

DAVID BLATT (!!)

Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Features

Harden takes over where Melo left off

The Timberwolves are not a bad team.  They might even be a pretty good team.  ESPN’s Marc Stein’s most-recent rankings slotted them 14th in the league; barely ahead of the middle.  John Hollinger’s calculator has them a little bit higher at 10th best.  But we’re past the question of whether the Wolves can be a decent, competitive team.  Clearly they can after they survived the absences of Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love with a better-than-.500 record.  The question that sits out there is whether this can be a special team.  Tonight’s loss doubled down on Sunday’s at New York in exposing the one main ingredient lacking from the Timberwolf Recipe: A go-to guy.  Put simply, New York and Houston have one and Minnesota doesn’t.

Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Timberwolves

Fear the Beard

Beard me.

Beard me.

James Harden and the Houston Rockets are in town for a 7 PM tilt against the Wolves at Target Center.

The Wolves have lost 3 out of 4 and could use a win.

Harden is the main attraction. At 25.7 points per game, Harden is 4th in the League in scoring behind Kobe, Melo, and Durant.

But wait – there’s more.

Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Timberwolves

“Winning Time” by Carmelo Anthony

Let’s get the qualifiers out of the way.  Coming into yesterday’s matchup with the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, the Timberwolves had a road record of 5-8.  At home, the Knicks were 11-2.  Though both teams had the previous day off and were presumably rested, the Wolves were without their top dog, Kevin Love.  K-Love was still feeling effects from the eye gouge injury he sustained late in the Thunder game and stayed home from the trip.  Taking on the second-best team in the East without the team’s best scorer and rebounder was a tall order and victory was unlikely.  But when the final buzzer sounded and the Knicks celebrated what should have been a routine home win against an undermanned squad, Wolves fans had a bitter taste in their mouths.  Here’s a rundown that explains why.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Timberwolves

Intel Report: Timberwolves vs. Knicks

The Wolves take on Rasheed Wallace and the Knicks Sunday afternoon at MSG

The Wolves take on Rasheed Wallace and the Knicks Sunday afternoon at MSG

Coming off a signature win over the West-leading OKC Thunder, the Wolves take on the East-leading Knicks Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.  The 13-11 Wolves will be without Kevin Love, who played one of his best one or two games of the season on Thursday, with 28, 11, and, perhaps most indicative of the way the Wolves played against OKC, a season-high 7 assists; the Wolves moved the ball better against the Thunder than in any game this season, and with only a minimal contribution from point guard extraordinaire Ricky Rubio, who’s still on a limited-minutes program as he completes his comeback from a season-ending knee injury.

Love’s minutes will be divided between much-maligned Derrick Williams and Dante Cunningham. Just when you think Derrick Williams won’t get any more chances, someone gets hurt, and Derrick Williams gets another chance. So far, he’s never done anything with any of them. Cunningham has exceeded expectations this season, and should give the Wolves the kind of steady but unspectacular performance Wolves fans have become accustomed to. The Wolves offense tends to flow better when Love isn’t on the floor, but there’s still no replacing his 20 & 13.

The Knicks are more than a worthy opponent, Love or no Love. A few things to watch for:

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Timberwolves

Selfishly Efficient

A difficult but essential responsibility of any basketball coach is to get his or her players to “buy in.”

By whatever psychological tactics necessary (with some famous coaches showing little-to-no bounds in their exploration), a coach needs to teach and convince players to make floor decisions that prioritize team ahead of individual.

Basketball fans have a better opportunity to psychoanalyze players than their counterparts in football do. The players are exposed without helmets or masks to cover their reactions to plays of the game. Modern HD television rarely fails to capture a Kobe Bryant sneer or Ricky Rubio smile. Also, the game has fewer players, and most offensive plays are trimmed down to 1 or 2 man action. Most basketball plays boil down to a player’s distinct choice to either shoot, dribble or pass; as fans, we watch for trends and form opinions about what they were thinking on a given play.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Features

Rite of Passage

Last year’s Timberwolves were the first in years to play consistently competitive basketball.  Before Ricky Rubio went down with a knee injury the Wolves had a winning record that included impressive victories over the defending-champion Mavericks and perennial contender Spurs.  But the games that probably meant the most to fans, Miami, LA, Boston, and yes, Oklahoma City… they came up short.  Entering this season the Wolves had not beaten the Celtics since they traded Kevin Garnett to them in 2007.  They haven’t beaten the Lakers for years.  They haven’t beaten Miami since LeBron and Bosh took their talents to South Beach.  And they have not beaten the Thunder since the Thunder became good.  Entering last night’s contest the Wolves had a 12-game losing streak to their rivals to the South.  The last time they beat OKC, the Thunder had a terrible 5-31 record and Westbrook-Durant was tantalizing potential with very little yet realized.  Along their rapid road to improvement, the Thunder have not only bullied the Timberwolves but reached a conference finals in 2011 and an NBA Finals last year.  They have the best record in basketball and were riding a [regular] 12-game winning streak as they tipped off on TNT Primetime at Target Center.  By winning this game–in commanding fashion, never trailing, nonetheless–the Timberwolves can mark off a yet-to-be accomplished task en route to becoming “for real.”  Having soundly beaten the best of the best, on the biggest [regular season] stage, they’ll carry a healthy amount of swagger that seasoned Rick Adelman will undoubtedly manipulate to be an advantage rather than a problem.  For now, with two days off until a fun Christmas Eve Eve matchup with the Knickerbockers, let’s just enjoy a great win.

A few keys:

Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Timberwolves

LeBron Hits the Accelerator (HEAT 103, Wolves 92)

When I saw that the Wolves were a 8.5-point dogs, my naive optimism dwindled pretty significantly.  Vegas usually knows what’s up.  In this case, Ricky Rubio was sitting out.  The Wolves were on the tail end of a road back-to-back.  Miami was rested.  Miami has LeBron James.  The Heat are the world champs.  After dropping a winnable one last night, this would be a challenge.  How’d it play out?  Check it out below the fold.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Timberwolves, Uncategorized

Intel Report: Timberwolves vs Heat

Former Wolves guard Mike Miller and those other guys host the Wolves tonight in Miami

Former Wolves guard Mike Miller and those other guys host the Wolves tonight in Miami

The Wolves take their talents to Miami tonight to play the incumbent Finals champions, after losing a winnable game against the Magic Monday night in Orlando. Well, maybe not all their talents: Ricky Rubio is not expected to play in tonight’s game, as part of a program that will have him avoiding back-to-backs until he’s cleared by team medical staff. Rubio, who struggled last night, will never say never, however, suggesting there’s a chance that he will play tonight if his knee isn’t too sore.

The Wolves could certainly use Rubio, even with Ricky coming off a subpar performance against the Magic where the rust clearly showed. Rubio ended the night with 0 points, 4 assists, and 3 turnovers in 16 minutes of action last night after having a nice Ricky-like 8/9/4/3 line in Saturday’s win over Dallas.

Against the Heat, the Wolves need Rubio far more than they did against Dallas or Orlando, and not just because the Heat are (by far) the best of the three teams. Why? Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Timberwolves

INBOX: If the Wolves trade Williams, what will they get in return?

Patrick J: How hard do you think AdelKahn is shopping Derrick Williams and change right now for a shooting guard? And, would they do a Beal trade? Would the Wiz? This probably means nothing, but I saw that WaPo picked up a story from somewhere (maybe even the Strib) on D-Thrill, suggesting they think there’s some demand from their readers to know more about this guy whom they’re potentially interested in. He’d probably be a breath of fresh air out there, as they could move Jordan Crawford to starting SG (gag, I know, but he’s better than Beal right now), and start Williams next to Okafor instead of Chris Singleton (!) or Martell Webster (!!).

Who are the other targets?

7 Comments

Filed under Features

Winning Streak Snapped: (MAGIC 102, Wolves 93)

Tonight’s loss at Orlando had a similar trajectory to those early-season losses that caused so much fan frustration.  A double-digit lead was squandered in the second half as missed shots seemed to affect decision-making and effort.  With 1:18 to play in the first half, Glen “Big Baby” Davis charged Kevin Love (a call that was obviously correct, on the video replay) and was T’d up while flipping his jersey out and exposing his belly for the world to see.  The Wolves’ 6-point lead quickly became 12 when Ricky Rubio found Love for a trey with a second left in the quarter.  Things were looking good for Minnesota after an all-around impressive half of basketball.  A five-game winning streak appeared to be almost inevitable.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Timberwolves

Intel Report: Wolves vs. Magic

Glen Davis

I’m traveling today, and am writing this from my iPhone. And so to preview tonight’s matchup, that means bullets. So, rat-at-tat-tat.

* Orlando *seems like* a bad team. Maybe they are one. But they have upped their record to 10-13 by winning 5 of their last 8 games. Those five wins include two versus the resurgent Warriors and one at Staples Center against Dwight Howard’s new team. They are not to be taken lightly, especially on their home floor.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Timberwolves

Finding Joy in Tragic Times

Andy and I are still grieving about Newtown, just like most of America. It was awful and shocking and evil.

Newtown made me think about selfishness. Why did the attacker have to kill innocent people if he was just going to commit suicide anyway?

Nothing can bring back the killer’s victims now. But amid all the horror and the pain, life can still reveal wonder and happiness and childlike amazement if you look around you.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Timberwolves

Welcome Back Ricky, Happy Birthday Shved

Nine months, six days, and approximately 22 hours after the whited-out Target Center crowd collectively gasped in horror after Kobe Bryant collided with Ricky Rubio, sending the fan-favorite phenom the the floor in agonizing, ligament-tearing pain, fans welcomed him home.  Home to the basketball floor to which he brings energy, excitement, and life.  Yes, with 1:47 to go in the opening quarter of tonight’s game versus the Mavericks, Ricky Rubio entered the game for Alexey Shved and began his second season as an NBA player.  Fans roared with standing cheers and all was well, even as the team trailed by a concerning margin in the early going.  The game itself was a roller coaster with an endless list of wrinkles, subplots and chapters.  But the obvious storyline was the happiest one: Ricky Rubio is back.

About those chapters…

Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Timberwolves

The Return

Ricky's back. This is gonna be fun.

Ricky’s back. This is gonna be fun.

He’s back, folks. (At least that’s what they’re saying.) We all know what that means.

There’s no need to overthink it, so no pre-game breakdown today.

If you take anything into this one, it’s this: shut down your Internets for a while, give Ricky your undivided attention, and enjoy the show.

Leave a comment

Filed under Timberwolves

Hanging on, back over .500 (WOLVES 108, Nuggets 105)

I think there is an old adage in sports that when two teams with the same winning percentage match up, and the home team has had 4 consecutive days off to rest and the away team has played 2 road games in the past 3 nights, the home team should win.  If that isn’t an old adage, then it should be one.  Despite whatever distractions or internal strife was caused by Adrian Wojnarowski’s column about Kevin Love, the Wolves had a decided advantage in this game for the simple reason that they were rested and the Nuggets were–or should have been–tired.  But even with advantages of home court and fresh legs, it was hardly a win to be taken for granted.  Denver has already come away from Target Center victorious once this year–with Love in the lineup, no less–and they’ve given the Wolves enough fits in recent years to have an uneasy feeling about this game.  With the exception of the early-to-mid 4th Quarter, the feeling lasted throughout most of the contest.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Timberwolves