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:
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.