Tag Archives: luke ridnour

Wolves 100, CAVS 92: 5 Things

“We have to keep working.  We know that we believe in us, and we have to keep believing.”
–Ricky Rubio

5 quick takeaways from tonight’s win:

 1 – Hot Hand Luke

Luke Ridnour continued his hot shooting of late.  He hit his patented runners, and his patented dribble baseline 15-footers.  In all, he had 21 points on 9-14 shooting.  Luke is shooting 59% over his last five games.  He was big when it mattered most tonight, scoring 13 in the 4th Quarter including a dagger trey with 1:43 to play.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Timberwolves

INBOX: In Which We Make Silly Predictions

Eds. Note: After a couple tough home losses this week, we decided to change things up a bit. The game is, each of us singled out a few players who’ll be rockin’ it in tonight’s tilt. We then assigned the guys we selected to the other guy, who then offered some Kahnjecture about how those players will fare tonight. Whoever’s closest to the mark (however defined) wins. It’s sort of like no-stakes gambling, unless, of course, you consider things like trash talk in future posts or pride as currency. We consider trash talk in future posts and pride as currency. Let the games begin.

Patrick J: Your first assignment is MASTER P ANTHONY DAVIS. What kind of NUMB#RS should we expect from Davis’s eyebrow tonight? Can the Wolves’ stop it, and if so, how? Does Adelman have Pek go mano e brow-oh with Davis, or are Wolves fans in for the kick-in-the-crotch consolation prize: a reminder of how much worse Derrick Williams is than another one of his contemporaries (i.e., a recent high lotto pick)?

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Timberwolves

Love’s Return…to Greatness (Wolves 97, KINGS 89)

It wasn’t easy.  Despite building a 13-point lead late in the 3rd Quarter of Tuesday night’s game at Sacramento the Wolves found themselves in a dogfight in the closing minutes.  With a minute to go, and holding just a 2-point lead, Andrei Kirilenko cracked the code of the annoying Kings zone defense, filling a seam, catching a pass and quickly flipping it over to Nikola Pekovic for an open layup.  On the other end of the floor, AK47 swatted a crucial shot of DeMarcus Cousins.  When he secured the loose-ball rebound himself, the game was in hand, with the five-game losing streak snapped.  The Wolves controlled most of this game, and deserved the win.  Since we’ve got another one tomorrow night (@ LA Clippers, 9:30 CST) I’m keeping it short, so we’re heading into the bullet format:

Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under Timberwolves, Timberwolves Art

Wolves vs. Kings: What to Watch For

‘Reke rocks the party

A struggling Wolves squad limps into Sacramento tonight trying to break their five-game losing streak against the Kings. Can they do it?

A few weeks ago, this would’ve looked like a gimme. But not anymore.

The Wolves are in disarray. At 5-7, they’re already in the cellar of a solid Northwest Division, just behind the 6-8 Portland Trailblazers. But if the Wolves lose tonight and fall to 5-8, that gap is likely to wide further tomorrow, with Portland scheduled to take on the Winless Washington Wi’zards.They badly need a win.

Continue reading

Comments Off

Filed under Timberwolves

Wolves Season Preview, Part 2 of 2

Can Andrei Kirilenko really be the key to this year’s team? Who knows! The season hasn’t started yet!

In Part 1 of our Wolves preview, Andy G delved into several issues that will have key implications for the team’s success this season. I come back with my takes on these topics, as well as a few other things he didn’t look at closely.

Find out what below the fold.

Continue reading

12 Comments

Filed under Timberwolves

The Love & Luke Show (WOLVES 117, Nuggets 100)

As of this moment there are five Western Conference teams within 1.5 games of each other, ranked 4 through 9.  Having lost to the struggling Wolves today, Denver has slid to the bottom of that list, after tie-breakers are considered.  In other words, today’s loss has temporarily removed them from the playoff picture.  Which in Springtime NBA Land means that Denver really wanted this one, but couldn’t get it.  The win, for the Wolves, means a bit more than the recent struggle over Golden State. Continue reading

Comments Off

Filed under Uncategorized

Millsap’d Again (JAZZ 111, Wolves 105)

When Paul Millsap missed a wide-open layup as the regulation buzzer sounded, it looked like the Wolves might actually steal this one from the Jazz.  They had trailed Utah 92-80 with only 4 minutes to go before pulling off a miraculous comeback to force overtime.  After a Pekovic basket tied the game with 0.7 seconds left, the Jazz ran a brilliant out of bounds play that nearly ended the Wolves hopes with a heroic shot.  Instead, Paul’s heroics would come from steals in overtime (8 total for the game!) that sealed a win that Utah probably deserved all along.

Things were actually looking good for the first part of overtime.  Wes Johnson (after a HORRENDOUS first four quarters of action) hit a pair of jumpers and pulled down a tough rebound, and had the Wolves leading 105-103 with 1:31 to go.  But, the next Wolves possessions were as follows:

* With game tied, Luke Ridnour pass stolen by Paul Millsap.

* With Wolves down by 2, Martell Webster misses wide-f***ing-open corner trey.

* With Wolves down by 4, Paul Millsap steals ball from Kevin Love.

Each blunder was followed by Jazz points.  Each blunder was inexcusable.  So it goes.

A whole bunch of bullets:

* Ridnour, that last turnover notwithstanding, made A LOT of nifty assists in this game.  He seemed to look for Pekovic frequently and found him rolling or sealing at the right times.  Luke finished the game with 13 assists.

* Anthony Randolph Sighting!  AR15 had 5 points and 3 steals in 12 minutes off the bench.  He took the ball hard to the basket twice in the second half, each time not getting a call that could have been made.  His biggest weakness right now is the rotation of big men that lie in front of him on the depth chart.  All things considered, his play isn’t that bad.  Those that incessantly rip on this guy are off base to some extent.  Sure, his decision making will leave you shaking your head at times.  But that happens with every player.  Every other player doesn’t get you 17 & 8 per 36 on 50 percent shooting and hyperactive defense.

* Speaking of AR15 getting minutes, Coach went 10 deep tonight despite Mike Beasley being out with a sore toe.  This cut deep into D-Thrill’s minutes.  The rook played 16 total, while Randolph and Tolliver each played 12.

* This was Kevin Love’s best game of the year against Paul Millsap and the Jazz.  But that isn’t necessary saying much.  He took 23 shots to get his 25 points, numbers not befitting of his renowned efficiency.  In three games versus Utah, he’s shooting just 29 percent from the field.  Still, he did plenty of good things in this game (like pull down 16 rebounds) and can hardly be blamed for the result.

I’ll wrap this up with a brief take on the trade deadline (in)activity.  The rumor mill had me and everyone else convinced that Mike Beasley was headed to Tinseltown in a three-teamer that would bring back two-guard chucker, Jamal Crawford.  Jamal has plenty in common with Beasley as a jumpshooting player.  One notable difference is that while Beasley at times seems conflicted about gunning, Jamal is unapologetic and perhaps unaware.  He just chucks.  And chucks.  Would he have helped this team?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I have no idea.

But the reason that the deal did not happen is that one version had Portland requiring Luke Ridnour to come their way.  If you have watched Luke play this year, you realize that this would not be a good thing.  The other version had us taking on Derek Fisher’s contract, adding over $3 million to next year’s payroll.  No thanks.  There are legitimately-good wing players available in this coming free agency.  Ray Allen, Eric Gordon, O.J. Mayo, Nic Batum.  I don’t know which the Wolves prefer most, but I have to believe they’ve got eyes on those guys and want as much dough as possible to toss their way.  With Ricky out for this season, a rash decision to run at the 8-seed–particularly one that might not even be an upgrade over what Beasley provides–would have been a mistake.  No trade was fine with me.

Season Record: 22-22

Comments Off

Filed under Uncategorized

Back to Work (Wolves 127, SUNS 124)

Was it a coincidence that the first seven quarters of Wolves ball that I missed in weeks were the first seven quarters of Ricky-less ball?  Yes, actually.  Saturday’s TV coverage was FUBAR’d by the NBA, with reciprocal blackouts for paying customers of NBA TV and paying customers of NBA League Pass.  I actually thanked the NBA (to myself, at least) for this blunder.  It sounds like I missed a wretched display by the home team.  Tonight’s contest mostly conflicted with my men’s league game (we won, thanks for caring) so I was only able to listen to the 3rd Quarter on the drive home and watch the 4th on FSN.

Based on the box score, radio commentary, and my text inbox, it sounds like Mike Beasley, Derrick Williams and Nikola Pekovic collectively carried the Wolves through the first half as K-Love struggled with his shot.  Beasley in particular (15 points on 6-7 shooting in 16 minutes, (tied for) team-high +8) must have been crucial to the 7-point halftime lead.

The radio broadcast of the third quarter sounded like Suns matchups of recent past.  Al Horton repeatedly described Suns action begun by Steve Nash and finished by an open jump shooter.  The Wolves 7-point lead quickly became a deficit.  But then, as is happening more and more often, K-Love came to the rescue by bombing from outside.  Love hit 5 threes in the second half (5-9 total for the game) en route to another 30-point game for the superstar.

Now, the part I was actually able to watch: the fourth quarter.  Or as Magic Johnson and Roger Dodger call it, Winning Time.

The Key Players of #winningtime, in reverse order:

5. Derrick Williams – The rookie was on the court for the first 7:42 of the fourth and seemed to be involved in every play.  He aggressively and stupidly goaltended a floating shot that had no chance of going in (sound familiar?) BUT–he got away with it, somehow.  On offense, he hit a pair of square-up J’s, one from downtown, and converted his own backcourt steal into a dunk.  Defense was another story.  His “defense” on Channing Frye reminded of recent Kevin Love efforts against Magic stretch four, Ryan Anderson.  Put simply, Williams does not want to guard out to 24 feet.  You know why?  He’s a power forward.  (This dilemma of the stretch four is exactly why I want K-Love to embrace his own shooting talent, as he is doing of late.)

4. Channing Frye – As I just mentioned, Frye’s shooting was a problem.  He entered the game with 8:26 to go with his team down by 2.  He quickly hit a pair of 3′s, each giving his team the lead.  While the Wolves were ultimately able to hold off the Suns, Frye’s sniping was nearly a deciding factor in the other direction.

3. Sebastian Telfair – Bassy played well in the last Wolves-Suns tilt, too.  He must have it out for his old team or something.  In the early part of this 4th Quarter he was pretty dominant, even if in ways that are UNSUSTAINABLE.  When JJ went under a ball screen, Bassy buried the jumper.  A moment later on another ball-screen sequence, he hit a three and D-Thrill fouled him for good measure and a fourth point.  RIGHT AFTER THAT, he ripped Luke on a careless dribble and converted a layup.  8 quick points in the 4th Quarter.

2. Kevin Love – The MVP candidate had 13 points in the 4th Quarter, despite resting from 8:26 to 4:18.  Not much else to say.

1. Luke Ridnour – Notwithstanding the turnover to Bassy, Luke was huge down the stretch.  He made a layup with 4:35 to go, and a long 2 with 3:55 to go.  With 1:50 to go he made a sick little hesitation move on Frye (I think) and an even-crazier layup in traffic with the shot clock winding down.  He collected an offensive board with 1:15 to go and a key defensive board with 0:54 to go.  With 17 seconds left and a 1-point lead, he calmly went to the line to extend it to 3 and help seal the win.  Great Winning Time performance for Luke.

Nice to get a win.  It’ll be interesting to see if any moves are made before the trade deadline on Thursday.  Also on that day is the next game, a nationally televised (EXCEPT MAYBE IN MINNEAPOLIS!) contest against the Utah Jazz, a key rival for the 8-seed.  Big Al scored 33 tonight on 14-18 shooting in an easy Jazz win, so we’ll have to have our interior defense ready to roll.  Until then.

Season Record: 22-21

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

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?

Continue reading

9 Comments

Filed under Timberwolves

Mile Low (NUGGETS 103 , Wolves 101)

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

Continue reading

19 Comments

Filed under Timberwolves

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

4 Comments

Filed under Timberwolves

The Return of Dirk (Mavericks 104, WOLVES 97)

As you probably know, the Wolves have twice defeated the defending-champion Mavericks in this short season, each game by a decided margin of victory.  Although I joined the excitement of other Wolves fans about last year’s worst dominating last year’s best, it was impossible not to notice two things about those games:

1) In the first game, Dirk wasn’t Dirk (as Bill Simmons explained yesterday, Dirk showed up for training camp way out of shape, not yet recovering from the championship hangover).

2) In the second game, Dirk wasn’t playing.  (His legs were broken down from playing his way into shape, for the above reason.)

Last night’s game would include neither of those beneficial factors.  After beginning the season 3-5, Dallas had won 12 of its last 18 games, returning to contender form.  After his worst start to a season in over a decade, Dirk had finally caught fire.  In the three games leading up to last night’s, Dirk was averaging over 26 points per game on 61.5 percent shooting.  It appeared as though he’d be the matchup nightmare that fans have grown accustomed to watching.

Continue reading

Comments Off

Filed under Timberwolves

A Loveless Victory (WOLVES 86, Kings 84)

Nobody quite knew what to predict for Minny’s first game of the season without its best player.  In fact, PJ published two separate posts in anticipation and speculation on exactly how this should shake out.  While the Kings are pretty lousy, they were coming off three consecutive wins and had big man DeMarcus Cousins playing the best basketball of his short career.  To eek out a win, even if ugly and way-too-close for comfort, is impressive in Love’s absence.

No Love

First things first: How did they do at replacing Kevin Love?

Continue reading

13 Comments

Filed under Timberwolves

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

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Playing the Matchups (WOLVES 99, Kings 86)

Luke Ridnour had 25 pts and 9 asts in Monday's victory over Sacramento

Wesley Johnson, the player selected fourth overall in the 2010 NBA Draft in large part due to shooting prowess, is now hitting 31.7 percent of all shots from the floor and 12.5 percent of three-point attempts.  So, why did Johnson log 34 minutes on a night when his shooting woes (3-11 total; 0-4 3PT) continued?  My only guess is that the coaches felt that the matchups dictated Wes being out there.  JOHN SALMONS! is actually a pretty good isolation scorer.  He’s played this role on decent teams (Chicago, Milwaukee) unlike many nondescript ballers of his ilk.  Wes, shooting struggles aside, stayed right with Salmons all night, leaving the scoring specialist with a 4-11 shooting line, with 11 points and 2 turnovers.  In this respect, Wes did his job.  But man–he’s missing WIDE OPEN SHOTS.  Wayne Ellington is not missing these shots and is a noticeably-better offensive player than the second-year wing from The ‘Cuse.

The Wolves hit a rough patch in the 2nd Quarter.  After a pair of Derrick Williams free throws (his only points of the evening–more on this below) the Wolves led 30-22.  Over the next 11:21 to end the half, the Kings ripped off a 24-12 stretch that had Wolves fans a little-bit restless at the break.  Much of these struggles was directly attributable to missing jumpshots.  On some of these–particularly with Derrick Williams and Kevin Love–there was hesitation to shoot after a solid pass, usually from Rubio.  I thought we were done with this.  The Rule of Rubio is that he passes, you shoot.  How many of the great Wolves moments from this early season HAVEN’T been tied to catch-and-shoot basketball?  In any case, the Wolves went to halftime with a 4-point deficit and some talking points ready made for the coaching staff.

In the third, the shooting wasn’t hot, but the Wolves (specifically, Kevin Love) grinded it out with a combination of free throws and better defense.  Love had 11 points total in the quarter, en route to a 33-point, 11-rebound, 3-assist, 2-steal gem of a performance.  This was classic Love, baiting officials into questionable foul calls, and hitting opportune jumpers to break the opponent’s back.  His interaction with the refs reached a tipping point tonight, earning him a technical foul and later flirting with an ejection.  He is quickly approaching the Kobe and LeBron level of getting utmost respect from the refs, and giving thanks by way of whiny gestures.  Oh well — it’s a lot-less annoying when it’s your team getting the calls.  On this night Love was a team-best (+22).

The lid came all the way off the basket in the fourth, with Ellington, Ridnour and Love taking turns making it rain at Target Center.  After a Jason Thompson dunk cut the lead to 1 (72-71) Adelman called timeout.  The Wolves then proceeded to a 27-15 closing stretch over 8:51.  Rubio hit a trey to extend the lead to 9 at the 5:11 mark and swung a fist of celebration to the crowd.  This was a frustrating game for him, in part due to his own misfiring on jumpers (3-10 total) but also because teammates (Darko, Wes, Pekovic) blew easy scoring opportunities that only Ricky can provide.  Pekovic and Milicic, as was pointed out by David Thorpe who attended this game, are not at all Rubio’s kinda guys on the court.  His (-3) was a rare negative +/- for the young phenom.

All in all, it was a hard-fought win against a bad team.  In years past, a win was a win was a win.  Since this year is DIFFERENT (the Wolves currently own a 0.5 game edge over the BOSTON CELTICS!) a struggle-fest against the Kings that requires a Wellington Bailout feels less satisfying.  I hope they dispose of the shitty Pistons on Wednesday with relative ease.

A few bullets:

* DeMarcus Cousins can’t get no respect.  I don’t even mean this as a joke–sure, he invites criticism by his constant whining, but so does Kendrick Perkins and it doesn’t seem to prevent Perk from getting a call or two.  Cousins must have been hacked or pushed a half dozen times in this game by the Serbian-Montenagran combo of Darko and Pek.  He shot 0 free throws for his efforts and was called for 4 fouls of his own in 25 minutes of action.  From my view it looked like the refs had it out for the enigmatic big man.  For what it was worth, he hit some nice jumpers and really does show off excellent footwork.  For his sake, I hope he finds some sort of comfort level in the NBA so we can all watch his talent on a consistent basis.  The league needs more talented bigs to balance out this wave of awesome lead guards.

* Since Rubio looks like the business as a true point guard, I’ll make what some might consider to be a BOLD STATEMENT: Steph Curry wouldn’t be any better for this team than Luke Ridnour is.  Luke is playing off the ball now, and is shooting as well as any Timberwolf I can ever remember.  He had 25 points and 9 assists tonight on 10-14 shooting (4-4 from 3.)  Curry is an awesome point guard, but if you’re sticking each slightly-built point guard off the ball, I don’t see a big difference between he and Luke Ridnour.  Not only did Luke shoot well tonight, but he also defended Marcus Thornton just fine.  I doubt very much that Curry would have been able to handle that matchup the way Ridnour did.  (OBVIOUS REBUTTAL: Curry would have trade value that Luke doesn’t.)

* The Kings might improve some if Francisco Garcia played more.  He “fits in” out there and doesn’t need to dominate the ball.  They’ve got a surplus of ball-dominant wings (without a single true point) who like to slash.  The lone saving grace is that they penetrate-and-kick.  On some similarly-built offenses (the Dunleavy-led Clips come to mind) the isolation is without passing.  Sacramento doesn’t seem quite as selfish as they do mismanaged.  Jimmer was a stupid draft pick for that roster.

* Pekovic fouls on damn-near every possession.  He was called for 4 tonight in 16 minutes and none of those were the time he threw DMC to the ground after a missed free throw.

* Derrick Williams made exactly one move tonight that got me excited.  He squared up a defender from 14 feet and went right at him to the cup.  This is the Amar’e stuff that he seems to have the potential to try.  He got fouled and made a pair of free throws; his only points.  The next time he found himself on the elbow with one-on-one coverage, he looked lost and passed it off after a hesitation.  He is battling some confidence issues.  Given this team’s propensity to start chucking from three (perhaps the best way to win games, right now) it sure would be nice if it could incorporate D-Thrill as an interior scoring presence.

Season Record: 5-8

12 Comments

Filed under Timberwolves

Game 3: The Heatles (Heat 103, Wolves 101)

The Wolves lost a 103-101 heartbreaker Friday night against the Heat and Birthday Boy LeBron James.  It was a heartbreaker both because of the promise the Wolves showed and the mistakes they made, as well as because the defeat is the latest tick in a growing tally of losses to start the 2011/12 season.

The Wolves looked like a different team from the group that suffered the lackluster defeat in Milwaukee Tuesday night. Kevin Love dropped a workmanlike (for him) 25/12/3, and Ricky Rubio f*cked around and got his first career double-double with a 12/12/6 line.

Before diving into Wolves takeaways from the game, first thing’s first: the Heat are good. Real good. Bosh, Wade, and James are gelling like the trio everyone expected coming out of the gates in 2010/11. LeBron is the best player in the world. He turned 27 today.

Takeaways

  • Turnovers: Adelman said prior to the game that if the Wolves failed to protect the ball, it would lead to a Heat dunk contest. His concern couldn’t have been more prophetic. Unforced errors and Heat ball-hawking led to 25 Wolves turnovers and what felt like a million transition buckets for Miami. Every Wolves player had at last one turnover. Love and Rubio were the chief offenders, with six and five, respectively, but their turnovers stung less than their teammates’, as aggressive play underlay the bulk of their mistakes, while the rest of the team played the kind of sloppy basketball that James, Wade, and company are only too happy to exploit. Adelman has lamented the Wolves’ sloppiness since the beginning of camp, and while the shortened preseason, the new system, and adjusting to new personnel all point to turnovers continuing to plague the Wolves for the foreseeable future, Adelman’s rotations are puzzling and he could ease the players’ burden by firming them up sooner rather than later.
  • The point guard situation: Rubio-mania has overtaken Minneapolis; Ridnour is no longer trying to mask his consternation with his declining role. Luke played just six minutes in the first half, missing his only field goal attempt. He had a nice stretch early in the third in which he made a quick three and then got a steal that led to a transition opportunity. But he started pressing in the middle of the third, taking an ill-advised three off the dribble that missed very badly, leading the already antsy Target Center crowd to clamor loudly for Rubio, who’d had a hot first half with 8 points, 6 assists, and a +7 in 15 minutes. When Rubio finally reported to the scorer’s table with 4:00 in the third, Ridnour retaliated with two difficult rapid-fire three-point attempts before exiting at the dead ball. Ridnour did not return, and finished the night with 6 points on 2-6 shooting and a -11 in 17 minutes. Rubio played the rest of the way, looking extremely good en route to 12 assists (which could’ve easily been 18+ with some help) and a +9 in 31 minutes. The stats are telling–the Wolves’ offensive sets and overall energy were markedly better when Rubio was in the game. With Rubio’s play exceeding expectations and Ridnour’s ineffectiveness and attitude forcing Adelman’s hand, the Wolves’ point guard situation is coming to a head sooner than expected. Kahn should be shopping the aggravated vet aggressively, but with Barea and Lee battling injuries, trading Ridnour would leave the Wolves thin at the point and so might not happen anytime soon.
  • Close but no cigar: In the three games thus far, the Wolves have been within three points with less than two minutes to go against two potential title contenders. They’ve failed to close each time. This year’s team clearly has more talent and a better culture than last year’s, but the Wolves’ inability to compete down the stretch is reminiscent of some of the ugly things we saw last year. Hopefully Adelman can instill some lessons about #winningtime where Rambis failed.
  • The last shot: A third-string guard seeing his first significant minutes of the season should never be in a position to take a potential game-tying or winning shot against anybody, let alone the Heat. Yet that’s what happened tonight in the game’s closing seconds when Wayne Ellington flung an extremely difficult dribble-jumper from 22 feet that clanked off the iron. Part of the reason the Wolves struggle to win close games is their lack of a go-to player down the stretch. Michael Beasley has the talent to get difficult baskets time-after-time when opposing defenses have hunkered down in the fourth quarter, but can he do it for this team? Beasley played poorly tonight, scoring only 4 points on 2-6 shooting in 22 minutes before getting benched in the fourth quarter. Yet Beasley is the Wolves’ only player who can create a decent shot for himself almost every time he touches the ball, as he showed during stretches of last season. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to second-guess Adelman’s decision to leave Beasley on the bench with four seconds left in a dead-ball situation in which the Timberwolves had possession. The Wolves will start to win close games against playoff-caliber teams when/if Adelman is able to trust Beasley or someone else to take and make big shots down the stretch. Ideally Beasley would need to earn that trust, but given his de facto role as the team’s sole 1-on-1 creator, Adelman should give Beasley a longer leash to earn it as he goes, despite the inevitable lumps that’ll come along the way.
Quick Hits
  • The Wolves sorely missed J.J. Barea at both guard positions. Get well soon J.J.!
  • Anthony Tolliver has so much heart. After getting slapped with a blocking foul on what appeared to be a LeBron charge late in the 4th, AT went hard to the cup and tried to CRAM on the entire Heat interior, drawing a foul. He’s proud and he worked his ass off on both ends.
  • That said, AT needs to work on his free-throws. He made the first shot and missed the second on at least three trips during the second half.
  • AR15 finally showed some signs and was a game high +18 in 25 minutes of action. He still has a long way to go before he’ll gain Adelman’s trust.
  • Randolph looks so much better when his 12-15 face-up is falling like it was tonight. It prevents him from trying to do too much off the dribble, which is when he tends to get out of control.
  • Derrick Williams looked better after a down game against Milwaukee on Tuesday. He mostly let the game come to him, and he hit two of three from downtown and had 10 points in 21 minutes.
  • Wes Johnson apparently didn’t read our letter.

It all starts again on Sunday against Dallas. Until then.

Season Record: 0-3

2 Comments

Filed under Timberwolves