Tag Archives: J.J. Barea

A Retrospective on the Knicks, A Prospective on the Pistons

Chauncey Billups, Suited Up. (Photo credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Chauncey Billups, Suited Up. (Photo credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Wolves lost to New York on Wednesday night 118-106. The Knicks seized the initiative right away, and the game was only really close after an  8-0 run in the third-quarter brought the Wolves to within three, with the ball.

On the ensuing possession, Kevin Love  got the ball on the block against Tyson Chandler and shot an ill-advised jump hook airball. It was a look Love has made plenty this season, including against solid defenders who are longer than he is.

But on Wednesday it was emblematic of his struggles to establish himself as the purveyor of the game. Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler instead did that.

Neutralizing Kevin Love

You see, Love typically sets his self apart from the competition each and every night, doing things in quantity and quality that have almost never been seen before. Usually when Love steps on the court, “u alreddy kno” who it is, to paraphrase famed Canis Hoopus commenter MAYNHOLUP!, because of Love’s dizzying barrage of three-point shooting, outlet passing, offensive rebounding, high-low feeds, foul draws, and, yes, jump hooks. There might not be a more unique player in the NBA – including LeBron James and Kevin Durant. 

If in most games, Love stands out like the unique superstar he is, in the New York game, he blended in – in the wrong way – like the role player his critics expected him to be when he came into the League.

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INBOX: Questions Looking Back, Questions Looking Forward

Could Kyrie Irving be a Timberwolves trade target? (Artwork courtesy of Holly Grimsrud: http://www.hollygrimsrudart.com/hollygrimsrudart.com/Welcome.html

Could Kyrie Irving be a Timberwolves trade target? (Artwork courtesy of Holly Grimsrud: http://www.hollygrimsrudart.com/hollygrimsrudart.com/Welcome.html)

Okay, so there’s a bunch of stuff to review. Let’s cover it by way of an INBOX to flesh out some of the ideas and knowns and unknowns.

First, let’s briefly cover last night’s game. I’ll pass the torch to you for first reactions.

Last night’s game at Atlanta

Andy G: First reaction would be that last night’s game is a microcosm of the Kevin Love Era of Timberwolves basketball. Love put up Chamberlainian NUMB#RS in a losing effort to a “decent” team. No exaggeration here: Love dropped 43 and 19. In a loss. To the Hawks.

I’ve seen this movie before. It’s not a good movie.

So yeah, #fml.

The Wolves aren’t very good defensively. (Duh.) Yeah, they’re smart about not fouling too much and their efficiency stats are pretty decent. (They remain 11th ranked in the league.) I tried to think of a way to capture what I feel like is the truth (the Wolves stink on defense, despite the overall efficiency metric that says otherwise). The best I could come up with is to filter by 4th Quarter defense in losses. The Wolves have too many blowout wins (and almost no close wins) to make their fourth quarter performance a reliable measure of anything. But they have 24 losses in 47 games, and a great deal of those were games that the Wolves *could’ve* (should’ve?) won.

By that measure (fourth quarter defense in losses) the Wolves rank 23rd in the NBA with a defensive rating of 114.5. (In those 24 games, their fourth quarter offensive rating is 100.0.)

Last night, the Wolves scored a ton in the fourth quarter. 38 points. That should’ve been enough to come back and win, but they allowed the Hawks — THE HAWKS! — to score 34 in the same period.

I don’t have it in me to dig into more detail than that. The roster just isn’t built very well, right now. There are too many one-way players. I’m not even sure there’s a single “two-way” player on the team. That makes it hard to win against good teams, or build anything resembling a sustainable formula for success.

So, there’s more to it than that – what of the Adelman-Rubio-Barea dynamic that’s been overshadowing backcourt rotations lately?

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Timberwolves Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Kemba Walker has the (second) meanest crossover in the East.

Kemba Walker has the (second) meanest crossover in the East.

Your Minnesota Timberwolves will be playing basketball tonight against the Charlotte Bobcats at Target Center.  Tip is at 7 P.M. CST. The game can be seen and heard through the usual channels.

The Wolves are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night at home. Former Wolf Gerald Green–a longtime Punch-Drunk Wolves favorite–hit the game-winner on a tough baseline jumper with seconds remaining.

One question to ponder after the Phoenix loss is whether the Wolves have chemistry problems. (Eds. Note: No, not the Breaking Bad kind of chemistry problems, at least that we know of.)

Tempers flared on Wednesday after Rick Adelman pulled J.J. Barea with 8:07 to go in the 4th quarter. Barea, a  player whose passion and intensity run so thick that they’re palpably evident even in pre-game warmups–the sideline-to-sideline defensive shuffle-suicides J.J. does each night as part of his pre-game ritual is all you really need to see–was visibly upset and stormed off the court, cursing in at least two languages. (Eds. Note: Barea was in fact cursing in three languages, if you count Spainglish.) The next thing you know, neither Barea nor Dante Cunningham joined the team huddle during a timeout.

Kevin Love, the team’s best player by orders of magnitude and an League-wide MVP candidate, didn’t appreciate Barea and Cunningham’s lack of team spirit. But Love himself was moody, and it doesn’t take a trained psychologist to deduce that Love appeared to be projecting frustration with his own sub-par performance onto Barea and Cunningham.

Love is serious about his image and is protective of his NUMB#RS. This video is by now a cliche, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t mean anything.

Kevin Love’s image took a hit on Wednesday night’s loss. In one of the Wolves’ few nationally-televised games of the season–Love played downright bad basketball and looked nothing like an MVP candidate. In fact, Love’s performance was sub-par on both ends: he shot 4-20 from the field, and got lit up by Suns three-point specialist Channing Frye after repeatedly failing to close out on Frye three-point attempts. Love’s failure to close on active shooters like Frye and Ryan Anderson is not a new phenomenon, and is one of the few aspects of his game for which he can be legitimately criticized and for which he is not called out enough by writers, many of whom give him the benefit of the doubt because they love Love for his fat stats.

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INBOX: Timberwolves at 76ers (The Closer/Active Shooter Edition)

 

Evan Turner

Evan Turner

The Wolves play at Philly tonight. I’m sure everyone involved is happy to be outside of Minnesota where the temps are so cold that the Governor canceled school (and apparently Minneapolis has already done the same for tomorrow). The game is at 6:00 CST and can be seen on FSN and heard on 830 WCCO.

Let’s preview this one in INBOX format.

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Afternoon Fun: Invincible J.J. Barea

ICYMI: The Internet Video of the Year

In the words of legendary Canis Hoopus commenter MAYNHOLUP, “u alreddy kno” this is classic material: It pretty much captures everything one needs to know about “Good/Bad J.J.,” without needing a single word of explanation to accomplish it.

This is why we love the Interwebz.

(Big ups to Steve McPherson and Anthony Bain, who made the dream real.)

Enjoy the game tonight.

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The J.J. Conundrum

It’s a great relationship with Mark Cuban. If they want to bring me back to Dallas, I am very [good] with it. But I’m happy in Minnesota. They’re the ones that wanted me there, the ones that signed me for four years, so until they decide to trade me, I’m going to give them all my effort in the games.

–J.J. Barea to Gonzalo Aguirregomezcorta of ESPNDeportes.com

Type in “J.J. Barea trade rumors” into Google, and stuff comes up:

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 6.10.20 PM

Scrolling down…

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 6.11.32 PM

Signs point to a strong likelihood of Barea playing for a different team in the 2013-14 season:

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A Basketball Fight (Heat 97, WOLVES 81)

The Wolves are depleted by injuries and totally removed from contention for a playoff spot.  So when the defending champs come to town and J.J. Barea gets into basketball’s version of a fight with a future hall of famer, that kind of steals the show.  As the replay makes clear, his foul on Ray Allen wasn’t THAT out of line.  He thought he was fouled on the other end going for a layup, and then again when Allen lightly shoved off in the backcourt.  So J.J. had enough and put some extra weight — to the extent the little guy has much to throw around — into a blocking foul that perhaps doubled as a body check.  Allen fell to the ground and flew up angry.

As is the case with all pro basketball players not named West or Peace (!) it was just a show.  Some woofing and “HOLD ME BACK” but no real harm done.  But the crowd enjoyed the uptick in feistiness — that is, until Barea was hit with an inexplicable Flagrant 2 and was ejected from the game.  That was quickly followed by Adelman’s own technical and a rare departure from Minnesota Nice that had Wolves fans lobbing all kinds of personal insults at the significant contingent of fans donning Miami Red and Black.  (This part was actually pretty stupid and made me feel like I was at an NFL game.  The Heat fans in my section weren’t provoking anything.)

What had the look of a surprisingly-competitive game (76-70 Miami led) quickly became a rout in favor of the road team.  After awarding Allen 3 free throws for the flagrant and technical, Alexey Shved had a 3-pointer waived off for “kicking.”  Then Dante Cunningham was whistled for a charge.  The Wolves became unglued and Dwyane Wade took over from there.  The final score was 97-81.

Some observations from the other 47 minutes and 59 seconds of action:

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A Professional Standard

Here’s the thing.  Everybody knows about the injuries and the unofficially-interim coach and the knee rehabilitation process and the 10-day contracts.  I could begin every single game wrap by laying out why the performance should be immune from criticism because it’s nobody’s fault but plain old bad luck’s.  But then there’s no point to going to the games and there’s certainly no point in writing about them for a hobby.  My dad drove up from the Rochester area to watch tonight’s game.  The couple next to us came down from St. Cloud.  People spent time and money to come watch professional basketball on a sub-zero night in Minneapolis.

So the least the team can do is hold itself to a professional standard.  In the fourth quarter tonight — WINNING TIME, as we call it — that did not happen.  In case you missed the game, it was a real struggle for Minnesota, but they scratched and clawed their way back into it, largely behind a Rubio and Williams rush of assists and buckets in the second half of the third quarter.  When each checked out of the game before the fourth quarter began, it was assumed by viewers that they’d be back soon.  Neither had played many minutes in the first half, and both certainly had plenty in the tank for the stretch run.

Dante Cunningham hit a pair of jumpers and the Wolves trailed by just 2 points with slightly over 10 minutes to play.

And then J.J. went crazy.

And not in a good way.

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Raining in Philly (Wolves 105, 76ers 88)

Was it 2007 all over again in Philly tonight? Josh Howard thought so.

“We need to get some type of roll going here and, like I said, you do it by winning on the road.”  Much of Rick Adelman’s post game presser (televised on FSN North) focused on the Wolves getting on a roll.  Clearly impressed by a dominant win over a solid Philadelphia 76ers team, Coach is smelling blood on this East Coast back-to-back and it’s coming from Boston.  Tomorrow night, the Wolves take on Kevin Garnett and the Celtics.  If you watched the game tonight, you can’t really blame him for looking ahead like a guy playing with house money.  This was the best his team has looked all season.  Which is strange, when you consider that Kevin Love, continuing the search for his shooting stroke, had just 6 points on 2-10 shooting.  (Before I forget though, Love was a beast on the defensive glass and his 5 assists reflect a quick maturation from earlier games when he met cold shooting with forced action.  He shared the ball tonight.)  It’s doubly strange when you consider that Nikola Pekovic had an inefficient 6 points, and 5 rebounds in 27 minutes of action.  Pek never found a groove all night.  The Timberwolves’ two best healthy players struggled, yet they won by 17 points on the road against a team that played in Game 7 of last year’s Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

So what exactly was going so well?

Everything else.

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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 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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What J.J. Worry?

The NBA announced on Wednesday that it will fine players guilty of “any physical act that appears to have been intended to cause the referees to call a foul on another player.”  The league elaborated just a bit: “The primary factor in determining whether a player committed a flop is whether his physical reaction to contact with another player is inconsistent with what would reasonably be expected given the force or direction of the contact.”  In other words, flopping.  You all know what it is.  It’s not suitable for legal definition, but like Justice Potter Stewart said of pornagraphy, “I know it when I see it.”  When Chris Paul is dribbling, the slightest touch from a defender is met with his body flailing backwards as if he had the body weight of a feather and balance of a drunk.  European and South American players are sometimes blamed for bringing this tactic to American hoops, with their respective nations’ soccer tradition poisoning our sport.  Luis Scola, Anderson Varejao and Manu Ginobili carry on the torch passed down from Vlade Divac. Continue reading

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INBOX: Target Practice, the Pau and Monta Edition

THE PAU GASOL IDEA


RUMINT has it that the Lakers would throw in Pau's Ed Hardy shirt for a conditional second-rounder, which Kahn demanded as a part of any trade

Patrick J: With all rumors swirling around Pau Gasol, the only thing for a hard-up blogger to do is fire up the good ol’ trade machine.

Wolves get:
Pau Gasol
Darius Morris

Lakers get:
Michael Beasley
Derrick Williams
Wes Johnson
Luke Ridnour

In this two-team trade, the Wolves’ lineup would look something like:

PG – Rubio
SG – Barea
SF – Webster
PF – Love/Randolph/Tolliver
C – Gasol/Pekovic
6th man: Pekovic

The Wolves end up with a Pau, Ricky, K-Love core. Barea and Webster are arguably upgrades over Johnson and Ridnour as starters at the 2 & 3. Pek is a matchup nightmare against opposing teams’ second units. We still have one high-upside enigma with Anthony Randolph. (One’s enough, right?)

An elephant in the room common sense question is whether the Wolves would be competitive in a Pau Sweepstakes.

John Hollinger’s (Insider) column suggests the answer may be no:

“It’s not hard coming up with dance partners, that’s for sure. Send him to Houston for Luis Scola,Goran Dragic, Marcus Morris and Chase Budinger, and the Lakers suddenly fill four rotation spots with one deal while saving several million on luxury tax; deal him to Indiana for David West,George Hill and Dahntay Jones and you accomplish a similar feat. These aren’t the only possibilities; one can build similar trades with several other teams, ones that don’t bring back a talent on Gasol’s level but plug so many gaps that it may be worth it anyway.”

Can a Williams/Beasley/Ridnour/Johnson package compete with Scola/Dragic/Morris/Budinger or West/Hill/Jones? We know the Rockets really want Gasol, and that’d be a pretty strong offer. What do you think?

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Mile Low (NUGGETS 103 , Wolves 101)

Tonight was a weird, weird, game. The play was rough and sloppy. The Wolves lost in OT.

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Two for the Money (Wolves 111, HOUSTON 98)

The human head weights 8 pounds. Pek's head weighs 18 pounds. (Photo courtesy of Bleacher Report)

In a comment yesterday, I said the Wolves hadn’t really owned a game since their last victory over Houston. They broke that streak Friday night, again against the Rockets, in a 111-98 victory in Houston.

Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love were the big stories.

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Taking Care of Business…or something (WOLVES 102, Bobcats 90)

The good news: Minnesota snapped its 4-game losing streak tonight, earning a decided victory against the Charlotte Bobcats.

The less-good news: I have no idea what to make of the performance, because Charlotte is the worst healthy NBA team I have seen in recent years.

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Exposed Again (MAGIC 102, Wolves 89)

Like recent seasons past, the Wolves are beginning to develop negative trends that play out over the course of an extended losing streak, this one now at four games.

  • Everybody (certainly this must include the bench and front office) knows that the team lacks a competent shooting guard. Luke Ridnour missed tonight’s game at Orlando for personal reasons. All the best to Luke and whatever he has going on, but his play at the off guard has not been good recently. Martell Webster didn’t help much tonight, scoring 5 points and turning it over twice in 22 minutes.
  • Everybody knows that the Wolves struggle to take care of the basketball. They had 18 turnovers tonight, with the increasingly erratic J.J. Barea leading the way with 7 of his own in only 23 minutes.
  • A new area of concern is three-point shooting.  Against the Magic, Wolves players shot 6 for 21 (28.6 percent) from downtown–this following recent games of 6-19, 6-23, and 4-19.  For the losing streak, they are a combined 26.8 percent from downtown, a rate that would put them dead last in the league by more than a couple of percentage points. Ricky creates a ton of three-point opportunities, but the Wolves won’t win many games if his teammates can’t convert them.
  • Why is Wes Johnson still starting?  This is the question that nobody has a good answer to.  He isn’t even playing good defense, anymore.  Jason Richardson scored 17 tonight, 5 over his average and many while baiting Wes into bad fouls or slamming him off screens for open jumpers.  Wes’ 3 for 7 shooting night was good for him, but his minutes need to go elsewhere.  Michael Beasley had a pretty average night by his standards (13 points in 25 minutes, a (-2) in a 13-point loss) and could play the same mediocre defense with better offensive punch.

I’m already beating dead horses, so I’ll keep this brief.

The Magic spread the floor around Dwight Howard and shoot a lot of threes. They make a lot of threes. In fact, they lead the league by a wide margin in made 3′s per game (9.9, next in NBA is New Jersey with 8.8). They made 12 tonight, and shot at a 40 percent clip.

J.J. Redick could run a basketball camp solely dedicated to using screens. He’s really made it into an artform. It’s silly what he does to defenders by running them off picks in all directions.

Ryan Anderson spreads the floor by being a 6’10″ sharpshooter. All of this works beautifully around Superman Howard. It’s a shame that he’s going to leave the Florida Sun and this nice team chemistry. In a season as wide open as this one, Orlando has a real chance to win an improbable title, just as Dallas did last year.

Bottom line: the Wolves lost because they a) didn’t take care of the ball; b) didn’t defend the three ; c) took and missed lots of jumpers; and d) don’t have an NBA shooting guard.

Until next time.

Season Record: 13-16

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Supporting Casts (GRIZZLIES 85, Wolves 80)

RANT-STYLE GAME WRAP

Zach Randolph’s supporting cast outplayed Kevin Love’s supporting cast at Memphis, tonight, winning by 5 after a meaningless Beasley three beat the buzzer.  The game was never close, yet never a blowout.  It was the worst kind of hoops watching where the action is ugly and disjointed, but the game always in enough doubt to keep you there in front of the tv.

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Stomping the Rockets (WOLVES 100, Rockets 91)

I wasn’t going to post a game wrap, but with the Wolves off tomorrow night (next game Tuesday at home versus Sacramento) I thought we should have something up to acknowledge some events of Saturday Night, and to continue the ongoing discussion of all things Wolves as the season moves into its second trimester.

.500

Minnesota has, finally, reached the elusive distinction of having won exactly one half of its games.  At 12-12, the Wolves have hit .500 for the first time since Kevin Garnett donned the blue and green, in 2007.  In case you forgot, Dwayne Casey had Ricky Buckets and Company at 20-20 before being fired.  Randy Wittman replaced him, closing out that season by going 12-30.  Yikes.  Decidedly-average pro basketball never felt so good.  The road of improvement continues ahead.

The Stomp

As I’m sure you’ve already seen or read about, Kevin Love stomped on Luis Scola’s face, last night.  Footage here.  Although no announcement (that I read, at least) was made today, I’d guess he’ll be suspended.  Love was apologetic after the game, without admitting any ill intent.  Scola was classy in his interview, deflecting all stomp questions away as if it was no big deal.  These kinds of things happen, and the Wolves are usually on the receiving end (Wally kicked in face by Bowen, Jaric slapped in face by Kobe, Beasley jacked up by Bynum, list goes on…) rather than dishing out cheap shots.  My griping at the time had more to do with how he was playing immediately before the stomp.  It was more of the begging for a bailout stuff that irks me as a fan.  He actually got away with at least two obvious fouls (both against Scola, one offensive, one defensive) but seemed to be getting really upset that calls weren’t actually being made in his favor.  Love can play a really clean game of great basketball when he wants (and did so for large parts of this one–he was great in this win) but sometimes resorts to this bush league crap that is annoying to watch.

Miller Looking Back Door

Brad Miller threw 4 backdoor passes in 6 minutes of action.  He was whipping them off the catch without regard for anything.  Think this guy has played for Carrill Adelman before?  Coach has spoken recently about wanting to get his offense installed to lessen the burden on Rubio’s pick-and-roll sets.  Perhaps Miller has been assigned to expedite this process.  On one backdoor attempt that ended in a turnover, Beasley cut out instead of toward the hoop.  Miller looked upset, letting him know that an easy scoring opportunity was wasted.  If this team can add Princeton halfcourt offense to Everything Else Rubio… whoa.

The Rotation

If you remove Brad Miller and his six minutes of tick, Adelman’s Saturday rotation was of nine players; the number he has pointed out as being ideal.  The heavy lifters appear to be Rubio, Ridnour, Love and Pekovic.  Middle guys are Barea, Beasley, Webster, and Wes.  D-Thrill is a limited reserve.  Randolph is in street clothes, and Ellington and Tolliver don’t take off their sweats.

Bullets:

* J.J. was pretty awesome in this game with his one-man circus routine of buzzing around the halfcourt and eventually fooling five defenders into allowing him an open layup.

* Patrick Patterson will play many years in the league with that mid-range jumper he’s already mastered.

* Luke bounced back quickly from an ugly performance at New Jersey.  4-6 from downtown and 22 points. There are 10 or so minutes in each game that he and Barea will always fight for.

* Big Pek followed up his career night with an efficient 11 points and 9 rebounds with only 1 turnover.  If he becomes as consistent as he already is powerful, popular and cool, we’ve got ourselves a legitimate starter of an NBA center.

* Kevin Martin shot the ball horribly in this game.  He was 1 for 10 with 2 points in 31 minutes.  Basically, the exact opposite of his last Target Center performance.  Perhaps the non-Ellington defense (I can’t recall if it was Luke or Wes) was a factor.  This, as much as anything, explains the victory.

Season Record: 12-12

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