Tag Archives: Blake Griffin

INBOX: A Warriors Wrap and a Clip Joint Preview

Klay Thompson: Not like Mych (but that's okay)

Klay Thompson: Not like Mych (but that’s okay)

The Timberwolves were routed 105-89 last night against the Warriors, as the Dubs clinched only their second playoff appearance in 19 (!) seasons. These late West Coast games are wildcards for Patrick J, as they usually start at 10:30 Eastern Time, which is fairly late on a school night. Which is to say, I fell asleep around 10:30 P.M. last night, just before the tip of the Wolves-Dubs game. That’s what League Pass’s game archive is for. I plan to watch the game in its entirety as soon as I satisfy all of the niggling responsibilities today at my actual job here in DC, hopefully as a prelude to staying up late to catch tonight’s Wolves-Clips game live.

Operating on more forgiving Central Time, Andy G took in all of last night’s action. In this INBOX post, he’s going to wrap last night’s game and I’m going to preview tonight’s game, both with a simple “5 things” rapid-fire approach. Enjoy.

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Unarmed (CLIPPERS 101, Wolves 95)

Twitter was going wild on the Timberwolves Injury Report front in the hours leading up to tonight’s game at Staples Center.  First, the good news:

Such. Great. News.  I can’t wait to see Minnesota’s most-entertaining athlete back on the floor at Target Center.  Should only be another week or two.

Now, the bad (for tonight’s game anyway):

That hurts.  Through 13 games, AK47 is the team’s MVP.  Without him, taking on a title contender, on the road, on 0 days rest, is not a winning proposition.  But as Chris Berman might say if he were segueing into a game in which an unexpected result occurred, “That’s why they play the games.”

To the action…

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Escape from LA?

The Wolves, coming off a feel-good victory last night in Sacramento, take on the Clippers tonight at Staples. A few things:

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Love vs. Griffin: Under the Microscope (A Misplaced Title for a Misplaced Plan)

Well, that was interesting.  I had planned on doing a special post that analyzed the Love-Griffin matchup, breaking down each possession where they guarded one another.  Since I did the work (the few times the matchup occurred) I’ll post the results, below.  But the obvious story from this game was that just when Lob City was imposing its will on the young Muskies from Minnesota, Derrick Williams Happened.  And then Michael Beasley Happened.  Just check out the box score.  Two bench forwards EACH SCORED 27 POINTS!!! Beasley shot 11 for 15; Williams 9 for 10.  Each made every attempted 3-pointer (Beasley 3-3, Williams 4-4) and each made every shot they attempted in the 4th Quarter (I think).  These two PUMMELED the Paul-Griffin combo when it mattered most.  This wasn’t some lottery-bound, spongy defense either.  D-Thrill was doing elbow-flying jump stops on Kenyon Martin, the meanest forward in basketball.  Supercool Beas was torching Caron Butler.

Anyway, I won’t extrapolate too much on this performance.  It’s obviously anomalous for any players–let alone a couple of young and unproven ones like Beasley and Williams–to combine for a 20-25 shooting night and 54 points off the bench.  But Pat and I are card-carrying fans/supporters/apologists of both players, so we’re sure-as-shit going to give some props when Williams and Beasley shine on one of the biggest stages in the league.

In this League Pass Era, this game was being witnessed all over the country by hoops junkies, and Beasley-Williams will be the buzz tomorrow morning.  What a fun game to watch.

Now, to that Love-Griffin Matchup:

Since Love and Blake are widely considered the league’s best young power forwards, I thought it would be fun to take a closer look at their matchup in tonight’s game.  I noted what happened each time the two matched up on one another and anything happened.  (Essentially, I ignored possessions where they weren’t guarding one another, and possessions where they simply passed the ball without any activity surrounding the matchup, like a double-team.)

Here’s the list:

1st Quarter

Blake on Offense:

  1. Posts up Love, head fakes, up-and-under, 2 points
  2. Blake slides behind Love for alley-oop dunk attempt, misses dunk
  3. Pass comes to Blake on wing/mid-post, Love gambles for steal and misses, Blake has open path for dunk
  4. Blake squares up from top of key (20 feet) and clanks a jumper
  5. Hard double team comes from Rubio, Blake passes out leads to ball swing and jumpshot attempt
  6. Squares up and drives, Love fouls him at the rim, Love exits game cursing out refs

Love on Offense:

  1. Squares up and hits jumper in Blake’s face
  2. Dribble drive, takes difficult, contested jumper and misses
  3. Pick and roll, catches pass but DeAndre Jordan is help defender and blocks shot

2nd Quarter

Blake on Offense

(No matchups)

Love on Offense

  1. Squares up and dribble drives, Blake flops for charge–no call–and Love is fouled by help defender on shot
  2. Posts up, ball poked away and it’s call out of bounds off Love

3rd Quarter

Blake on Offense

  1. Missed 3-pointer when he was floating around near end of shot clock
  2. Fully double-teamed by Rubio, passes out for ball swing
  3. Fights with Love for offensive rebound, gets it, is fouled on shot
  4. Posting up, pass sails overhead and out of bounds
  5. Floating 18 feet out as Paul drives, Love follows Paul toward basket, pass goes out to Blake and Love dares him to shoot — makes jumpshot.

Love on Offense

  1. Posts up, misses hook shot
  2. Posts up for long sequence, 24-second buzzer goes off before shot, turnover
  3. Picks and pops, misses 3-pointer

4th Quarter

(No matchups, for reasons mentioned above.)

A few thoughts on this matchup:

  • For the game, Love had 10 pts 7 rebs 2 asts 2 tos
  • For the game, Griffin had 30 pts 7 rebs 4 asts 3 tos
  • Obviously, this was not Kevin Love’s night.  He shot 4-13 for 10 points and 7 rebounds in 25 minutes.  Everybody knows that isn’t him.  As Williams was killing it, Love went into the locker room with some kind of injury.  What was interesting for my exercise was how often Adelman had other defenders on Blake.  Perhaps it was an attempt to keep him out of foul trouble–Blake had it going in the 1st Half (24 points) and was getting lots of contact off dribble penetration.  Williams, Pekovic, and Darko defended Blake for the majority of this game, hence the few number of matchups for me to describe.
  • Blake commands a double team–a full one.  Not many in the league are in this category and he’s already there.
  • Blake can’t shoot very well.  Until he gets a better rhythm on his shot–jumper and free throws–he’ll be fighting with guys like Love and LaMarcus Aldridge for “Best 4 in the World” recognition.  If he shot just a little bit better, it wouldn’t even be a discussion.  His potential is so, so high.

This was obviously a rather disjointed Game Wrap.  Chris Paul had me worried; the Wolves had no answer for him until Williams made it rain from the Staples Center sky.  If there are two measured take-aways for what to do next, they are:

* Take two or three minutes from Kevin Love and give them to Derrick Williams.  Love is awesome, but he isn’t the type of player that should lead the NBA in minutes per game as he currently does.  He’s a rebounding big man.  That’s exhausting work and the team would benefit from having a bit more energy from both Love and his eager replacement.

* Give the Wes Johnson minutes to Michael Beasley already.  Shit, we’ve seen the talent discrepancy and it’s outrageous that this goes on.  Beasley will upset us sometimes with a blown assignment or a ball-stop.  But he’ll also go off from time to time, and he’ll ALWAYS be a better all-around basketball player than Wes.

Lakers tomorrow night.  Kobe was concussed by D-Wade in the All-Star Game (yes, this happened) so he may not play tomorrow.  Maybe it can be a Staples Sweep?

Season Record: 18-17

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Rating the B.S. Report

Bill Simmons works for ESPN.  He’s also called “The Sports Guy.” Apparently he writes a column called “The Sports Column.” He also has a podcast called The B.S. Report, which is a free-flowing conversation that occasionally touches on mature subject matter. You know the drill.

So yesterday Simmons did a two-part podcast: Part 1 featured Kevin Love and Wi-ZARDS superfan, Joe House ( Play Download); Part 2 featured Dirk Nowitzski and Wi-ZARDS superfan Joe House (Play Download). (CAVEAT: Neither of us have had an opportunity to listen to them yet because of these niggling “day jobs” we have to do, but we’re both pretty psyched to hear them because the Simmon-House duo rules and so do Dirk and K-Love.)

In anticipation of listening to these podcasts, and without a Wolves game to discuss, we decided to look back on our favorite BS Report moments and propose who we would pay to hear on future B.S. Reports.

Andy G’s Favorites

  1. Bill Walton (Describes the genius of John Wooden in ways only Walton can.  Also, I believe this podcast holds the BS Report title for ‘most awkward ending’ when Bill S. asks some question about the late-70’s Blazers breaking up and Bill W. abruptly ends interview. Eds. note: I’m not able to find the direct link to the Walton podcast so I’m posting his general ESPN Audio link, which contains links to many sources of Walton goodness.–AG)
  2. 3-Man Weave with Mark Stein & Ric Bucher (Simmons loves the Celtics.  Stein loves the Mavericks.  Bucher loves the Lakers.  They rib each other about these allegiances in funny ways, and all three are in touch with the league.)
  3. Chuck Klosterman (Klosterman could write or speak about tax returns and make them seem interesting.  He also knows hoops (though more NCAA than NBA) and his discussions with Simmons on the BS Report are must-listen.  One that sticks out is from the week that Charlie Sheen went batshit.
  4. Jalen Rose (No surprise that BS hired him for HIS OWN podcast on the Grantland Network. He knocked his BS Report out of the park. Lots of good stuff about 90’s NBA and the Fab Five.)
  5. Steve Kerr (Knows the game, has great stories, and speaks well. He’s a perfect fit for the podcast format.)


Patrick J’s Favorites

  1. David Kahn (Obviously.)
  2. Bob Ryan (Breakdown of Pierce as best Celtics scorer of all time–yes, greater than Legend; discussion of how McHale’s greatness is likely to be forgotten)
  3. Chris Herren (So much Boston here, it warmed my heart just to hear the accent. Also, penetrating discussion of LOYALTY and Rick Pitino. Verification of why Paul Pierce is great.)
  4. Joe House 2011/12 Season Preview, Part I and Part II(The 2011/12 season preview episodes is funny as hell. House says “Anus Kanter” and I believe he was being earnest about it. That NEVER happens.)
  5. Larry Bird (Actually, this one was kind of a yawner given that Legend is my all-time favorite basketball player. Bird opines on Rubio (yes, he’s great) and Kobe vs. LeBron (Both are great, Lebron might be more fun to play with, but you’re more likely to win rings if you’re on Kobe’s squad.

Worst B.S. Report

  1. Blake Griffin (He’s a more stale interview than Derrick Rose. Only sunshine here is that that hearing Simmons pulling teeth to get Griffin to talk was sort of entertaining ‘cause it was almost as hard to listen to as that scene in Swingers where Mikey keeps calling and leaving messages on that chick’s answering machine.)(Eds. note: Who am I forgetting? –PJ)
  2. (Eds. note: You are forgetting BILLY HUNTER: (ALL listeners were pissed off listening to it (an inherent truth when you cross people who care enough about league to listen to a Billy Hunter interview with outrage of same people from LOCKOUT) and Hunter had nothing interesting to add.  I took away no enjoyment from that listen.  At least when David Stern comes on, he’s going to piss you off in interesting ways.–AG)
Let’s up the ante: Who WOULD be a great BS Report guest? (Bill, are you reading?)

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Love-Griffin I (Wolves 101, CLIPPERS 98)

K-Love after the game winner

The Game

Darko Milicic opened this contest with a jump hook that gave his Wolves a 2-0 lead over the Clips. (Darko played great the whole contest, by the way.)  But this lead would be the only one the Wolves enjoyed until Kevin Love sank an open 28-footer as the buzzer sounded.  Narrowly edging out his friend and rival, Blake Griffin, Love capped a rather-amazing comeback for his team on a night when baskets were all-too-difficult to come by.  Ricky Rubio in particular (1-11 FGM-A, 9 points) couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn and looked as rattled as we have seen him in an NBA uniform.  But as everyone noted after the game, his competitive fire never waned and his playmaking and free-throw shooting were crucial to the victory.  Immediately before Love’s heroics, Ricky tied the game with a corner trey.  After missing all ten of his field goals to that point, he didn’t hesitate for a second in taking and making the big shot.  For all of his struggles, Rubio was a (+2) for the game; the only starter in the positives.

But enough about Rubio for now. This game was built up by the talking heads as a matchup of the league’s best power forwards–LaMarcus Aldridge and Dirk Nowitzki may have things to say about this, but whatever, we’re going with it–who thrive even though they could hardly differ more in terms of their length and athleticism. In the early going, Blake struggled to score against his bigger defender, Darko. He resorted to jump shots, clanking almost every time.  As the game progressed, Blake showed some smarts, challenging Darko with spin moves and up fakes. He finished the game with a respectable 21 & 11, but his 5 turnovers were excessive and his missed pair of free throws with a minute to go (Darko fouled out respectably, corralling Blake to prevent the basket and putting the lid on his most-productive performance of the year – 22 points and 7 rebounds) proved to be fatal. Love had an equally-mediocre game by his own high standards, until of course, the buzzer-beating dagger.  He shot 5-16 from the floor, but grinded out a 17-point, 14-rebound, 3-assist, and 0-turnover stat sheet.  I would call the individual matchup (even though they didn’t guard one another, we’re calling this a matchup) a wash, except that Blake choked at the line, and Love was the hero in the end.  Love wins this one.

The Bench

Look at the box score, and you’ll notice that the bench has the big pluses in the +/- column.  Derrick Williams in particular stands out, as he chipped in 9 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists in only 14 minutes of action.  The Wolves were a whopping (+17) in that short bit of time while D-Thrill was wreaking havoc.  He showed off the move I’ve been clamoring for more of: that 15-17 foot jab step dribble drive.  Amar’e and Bosh use that all the time and Williams has that type of athleticism and dribbling ability. He did it in college and it worked for him tonight and I hope to see more of this in the future.  Given that the Wolves are searching for offensive proficiency in Michael Beasley’s absence, I have been disappointed to see Williams’ minutes cut.

Wayne Ellington continues to bury jumpers at a nice rate (6-9 FG; 1-2 3PT).  Wellington comes off a pick and fires like Rex Chapman or Eddie House.  Is this a sustainable way to produce?  Maybe; maybe not.  But as a limited reserve, there are worse things than a quality chucker.  Thirteen games in, Wayne’s field goal percentage is up from his career average (41.8 percent career; 46.3 percent this season).  Some of that is attributable to Rubio setting him up better than Flynn (ya think?) or Ridnour could in seasons past.

Anthony Tolliver didn’t play his best game, and here’s why: he forgot what his role is.  I think Hubie Brown (who was awesome, by the way–who doesn’t like color commentary in the second-person?) pointed this out, but Tolliver needs to shoot the ball when he’s open.  (So does Wes Johnson, but I’ve given up hope, there.)  Tolliver has seemed to understand his role in the offense better than most players and has hit huge treys off of Rubio dimes.  In this game, he put it on the floor too much and, as often happens for him, he turned the ball over.  A player of this type should not have 3 turnovers in an entire game’s work, let alone 19 minutes.  He was the only bench player in the minus column, with a (-4).

The Clips

The elephant in the room is that the Clippers were without Chris Paul (and Caron Butler, but Gomes did just fine replacing Tuff Juice).  Chauncey Billups thinks it’s 2004 and this is a problem for Lob City.  As Mo Williams showed the world last night (25 points), he is actually a good basketball player.  Billups relies almost exclusively on trying to draw fouls and doesn’t pose the same threat that he used to as a playmaker.  When Williams was ejected (two separate technical fouls, almost-definitely swung the game’s outcome) Billups put on his hero cape and came up short with turnovers and missed shots.  In my opinion, the Clippers would benefit from ditching Billups and running with Paul and Williams for the bulk of minutes, and some Randy Foye mixed in as a change-of-pace reserve.

Oh, DeAndre Jordan.  It was almost comical watching the little Wolves trying to shoot over this guy.  Ridnour hit a floater that must have gone 15 feet in the air, and DJ damn-near got a hand on it at its peak.  Jordan is worthless offensively, but his defensive impact is obvious on a single viewing.  In case you forgot how bad Kevin McHale was at drafting players, he passed on Jordan with the 31st (Pekovic) and 34th (Mario Chalmers, traded to Heat) picks in the 2008 Draft.  Can you imagine walking away from that draft with Kevin Love and DeAndre Jordan?  I digress.

Looking Ahead (a few hours)

Wolves travel to Salt Lake tonight where they’ll face a seemingly-improved Jazz team (9-5, but against a relatively-easy schedule so far) led by an old favorite of my own, Al Jefferson.  Big Al is leading the Jazz in points (18.3) and rebounds (9.2) per game, but is hardly the focal point that he once was on some terrible Wolves teams.  EnergySolutions Arena (the Delta Center was so much easier to say) is a tough place to leave victorious.  The Jazz rested last night and the Wolves will have their hands full.  In the interest of getting way ahead of ourselves, if the Wolves want that eighth playoff spot in the West, Utah would probably be the team they’d displace.

Season Record: 7-8

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