Tag Archives: Nikola Pekovic

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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Timberwolves vs. Nuggets Preview (The Rocky Mountain High Edition)

Nikola Pekovic has likely traded in his Phoenix poolside garb for a Denver ski jacket.

Nikola Pekovic has likely traded in his Phoenix poolside garb for a Denver ski jacket.

The Wolves are in Denver to close out their West Coast road trip tonight at 8 P.M. CST. The game can be seen on FSN or League Pass, or heard on WCCO 830 AM.

The Wolves have won three of four games on their current road trip, and aim to make it four out of five tonight against the Nuggets. The Wolves should win tonight – they beat Denver by 27 points on February 12 – but it isn’t a gimme, as Denver has demonstrated in two wins over the Wolves this season.

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Report: Timberwolves Prowling in the House of the Rising Suns

Gerald Green gets high. (Photo by Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports)

Gerald Green gets high. (Photo by Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports)

The Timberwolves take on the playoff-bound Phoenix Suns  tonight in Phoenix. Tip is at 8 P.M. CST. You can see it on FSN or League pass and, as always, hear it on WCCO 830.

I have to drive down to Washington, D.C., later this afternoon, so this will be brief.

A few quick notes, below the fold.

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Rockets at Timberwolves (The Fearing the Beard Edition)

The NBA should allow James Harden to play with that pick in his beard during All-Star Weekend.

The NBA should allow James Harden to play with that pick in his beard during All-Star Weekend.

The Houston Rockets (34-17) are in town to play the staggering (Punch-Drunk?) Wolves (24-27) tonight. Tip is at 7 P.M. Central. Views via FSN and NBATV. Sounds via WCCO 830. James Harden’s beard is traveling with the team and will be in the Rockets’ starting lineup.

We discussed some of the issues heading into this game during our first Punch-Drunk Podcast. (Eds. Note: We’re planning on adding podcasts to our repertoire on a semi-regular basis. More details on that to come.)

A few notes on tonight’s game below the fold.

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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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Wolves vs. Hawks (The Uncertainty Edition)

Paul Millsap leads the Hawks against the Timberwolves tonight in Atlanta.

Paul Millsap leads the Hawks against the Timberwolves tonight in Atlanta.

Coming off of last night’s disappointing 94-90 loss to Memphis at home, the Wolves take on the Atlanta Hawks tonight in Atlanta in the second game of a back-to-back.

The Wolves had won five of six before falling to Memphis, but despite their stronger record as of late, at least three things still feel very off.

The first and most obvious is how the loss of center Nikola Pekovic has impacted the Wolves offense.

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Bull Fight (The Wolves-Bulls Edition)

It is Nikola Pekovic's job - it's his vocation - to wipe smiles like Joakim Noah's from opposing centers' faces.

It is Nikola Pekovic’s job – it’s his vocation – to wipe smiles like Joakim Noah’s from opposing centers’ faces.

Following a disappointing loss in Portland on Saturday evening, the Wolves (21-22) continue their four-game road trip tonight in Chicago (22-21). Tip is at 7:00 P.M. CST. The game can be seen on NBATV and heard on WCCO 830.

Derrick Rose won’t be walking through that door. (Eds. Note: He might limp to that bench, I’m not sure. Key thing is, he isn’t playing tonight or for a long time.) Neither will Luol Deng, or even Kirk Hinrich.

But beating the Bulls tonight will require the Wolves  to play top-level basketball. The Wolves haven’t beaten the Bulls in a very long time. Last season, Chicago swept the season series against the Wolves for the fourth straight year. They’ve now won seven straight against Minnesota.

And despite being decimated by injuries, the Bulls are perhaps the NBA’s hottest team that no one really cares about.

The Bulls are tied for the League lead in January wins so far, going 10-3 in 2014. They’re 8-3 since trading  Luol Deng earlier this month in what appeared a clear towel-throwing move.

But the Bulls keep winning. Because Tom Thibodeau.

Remember when I said Derrick Rose, Lu Deng, and Kirk Hinrich won’t be walking through that door? That doesn’t  matter. Thibs keeps the engine running on overdrive no matter what lineup he can put on the floor.

A few things stand out for tonight’s game.

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SLC Punk’d (The Curse of Salt Lake City Edition)

The Wolves have not won a game in Salt Lake City since 2009.

The Wolves have not won a game in Salt Lake City since 2009.

After rolling over the Utah Jazz (14-28) 98-72 at home on Saturday, the Timberwolves (19-21) are in Salt Lake City to take on the Jazz in the second game of a rare home-and-home involving the Wolves.

On Friday, everything that could’ve gone right did. They got off to a 9-0 start, and led by as many as 36 at one point. Nikola Pekovic carved up Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and any other challengers on Utah’s front line en route to 27 points and a season-high 14 rebounds in just 29 minutes; Good Kevin Martin came to play, tallying 20 points; and Kevin Love had 18 and 13, totals that would’ve been higher had the Wolves needed him to play more minutes. (He played 29.)

On the Jazz side, what was already arguably the worst team in the NBA was without its best player, Gordon Hayward, and the team had a historically-bad shooting night, going a franchise-worst 28.8 percent (21 of 73). With 18 points, Alec Burks was the lone Jazz player in double-figures. For one night at least, the Wolves quieted some of the naysayers who’ve loudly criticized their decision not to select Trey Burke with the ninth pick in last summer’s draft. Ricky Rubio clearly outclassed Burke on Saturday night, holding the rookie to 9 points–almost five below his season average–on 2-10 from the field and two assists. Burke also had three turnovers.

Tonight’s game in Utah figures to be a more difficult win for the Wolves than was Saturday’s laugher for two reasons: Gordon Hayward and the Delta Center EnergySolutions Arena.

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Kings vs. Wolves (The Run DMC Edition)

pekovic-cousins1

I’m traveling on business, and have to make this short.

The Timberwolves (18-19) host the Sacramento Kings (13-23) tonight at 7:00 pm CT. You can see and hear the game at the usual places, FSN and WCCO 830-AM, respectively.

A few notes of interest:

  • Pekovic-Cousins Grudge Match: Two of the best (and biggest) centers in the NBA go head-to-head tonight in what looks to be the game’s marquee matchup. Cousins is having a monster year, ranking among the NBA’s top 10 in both points (23.5) and rebounds (11.6) per game, which puts him in a strong position to make this season’s All-Star game. Pek has arguably been the Wolves’ best player in recent games, beasting his way to 23 and 10 on 55% shooting and over 5 offensive rebounds over his last dozen games.  All I can say about their head-to-head matchup is by way of a public service announcement: Any time Nikola Pekovic and DeMarcus Cousins are set to go to war, hide your women and children.

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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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INBOX: Wolves Beat Boston, Derrick Williams Trade Rumors

Nikola Pekovic's emergence was key to last night's victory and is critical to the Timberwolves' long-term prospects

Nikola Pekovic’s emergence was key to last night’s victory and is critical to the Timberwolves’ long-term prospects (Artwork brought to you by Holly G)

Andy G: I closed yesterday’s post with: “If last night’s loss was an eye opener for the defense, perhaps a renewed focus can keep the Celtics under 90 points tonight and give the fans an enjoyable win to watch.”

Well, the Wolves held Boston to just 88 points, won by 18, and gave the fans a win that was mostly enjoyable to watch. Despite some first-half struggles from the Kevins, the Wolves used a combination of transition offense, J.J. Barea Hero Ball, and Nikola Pekovic glass eating to take a five-point lead after two quarters. In the second half, Kevin Martin calibrated his three-point range (he was short on just about everything in the first) and Kevin Love showed off hook shots while also grinding out foul-draws to the tune of a workmanlike 23 points and 12 rebounds. The 7 turnovers on his line are evidence of some of his struggles in this game. Robbie Hummel advanced the “positive correlation guy” narrative drum that I’m beating, with 8 points in 20 minutes of (+14) basketball. On defense, Adelman said that they wanted to make Boston a jumpshooting team. They pretty much succeeded at this. Early on, those jumpers went in. Later on, they didn’t. The lead grew and the Wolves cruised to a comfortable win. This team seems like a good front runner.

Let me get back to Pekovic for a moment because I think his performance gets to a bigger-picture issue with this team. With Ricky Rubio being such a non scorer (3 points combined in the two games this weekend) and nobody on the team possessing elite shot creating in the traditional mold of a LeBron/Melo/Wade/Kobe nature, I think one of the keys on nights like last night is to pound the offensive glass. There will be games like this one (the Cleveland loss was a good example) where the offense sputters and they’ll need an alternate route to points. Pek had 8 offensive boards last night and scored 20 points on 8-9 shooting. Most of these were putbacks.

As the Wolves continue to refine their offense — currently the league’s 9th best — the challenge will be to maximize all of the immense talents of Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love and Pek. In the early part of this season, Pek seemed almost like an odd man out, often losing shot opportunities to aggressive bucket hunters Love and Martin. One way he can unquestionably add value is to do what he did last night and crash the boards. After his huge game last night, his offensive rebounding percentage is up to 11.1 percent. Last season’s was 13.1 percent. It’d be nice to see him focus on getting back to this one skill that will be hugely important, particularly if Rick staggers his bench rotations like he did over the weekend, pairing Pekovic with Barea. J.J. is certain to create “Kobe Assist” opportunities with his kamikaze drives that usually draw an extra defender and often times clank off the rim.

All in all, a solid win over a bad team. Adelman emphasized after the game that good teams MUST win at home. He said that you then try to split on the road. Taken literally, he’s describing a path to winning three fourths of regular season games. While that’s a bit optimistic for this team (it’d be 61 or 62 wins, which even the most optimistic would be impressed by) it’s clear that Rick expects to win this season.

What else is happening?

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Timberwolves at Knicks: What to Watch For

Carmelo Anthony is licking his chops at the Wolves' defense

Carmelo Anthony is licking his chops at the Wolves’ defense

Your 2-0 Minnesota Timberwolves are in New York and take on the 1-1 Knicks Sunday night at Madison Square Garden at 7:30 Eastern.

Coming off a blowout victory Friday night against Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Wolves face another test tonight in Carmelo Anthony & co.

Here’s what to watch for tonight against the Knicks:

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A Pek-Sized Commitment

pekkkkk

artwork by Holly Grimsrud: http://www.hollygrimsrudart.com

Well, that took a while.

It would be wrong to say we were “anxiously” awaiting the news of Pekovic re-signing, because it seemed inevitable.  His potential suitors burned up their cap space elsewhere, the Wolves were reportedly offering market value, and… well, no respectable RFA takes the qualifying offer.  Pek was going to be re-signed.  The only questions were for how much money and for how many years.

Those questions were answered today when Flip Saunders broke the news that a deal had been reached.

Flip’s Twitter account makes me laugh.  When he’s trying to spell a foreign prospect’s name, it makes me cringe.  But it usually makes me laugh.

Jerry Z has all of the important deets over at On the Wolves.  Five years, $60 Million is a big commitment, but it’s a big commitment to a good player.  Importantly, the five year detail does not preclude the “super-max” offer to Ricky Rubio, the way it would have if the team used it on Kevin Love.  Apparently there are some incentives in the deal, but it sounds like roughly sixty mil.

This is good news, if not surprising news.  Nikola Pekovic is a good player.  Maybe even a very good — sometimes almost great — player.  Pek is smart.  He understands where he should be on the floor at all times.  On both ends.  He has a soft touch with his right hand hook, along with a drop step that must make Pete Newell smile in his grave.  Pek can make free throws, and — on defense — Pek can “wall up” to contest drives without fouling.

But most of all, Pek is a fucking badass in the paint.  Without a traditional “superstar” scorer in the mold of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade, and without the rangy team athleticism to hang their hat on elite defense, the Timberwolves need a different way to become great.  Ricky Rubio’s passing helps.  Kevin Love’s patented combination of rebounding and shooting certainly doesn’t hurt.  Pekovic adds an element of interior muscle that just exhausts opponents.  Maybe not Dwight Howard or Marc Gasol, but in 20 or more different NBA matchups the Wolves have an advantage where the opposing center is focusing mental and physical attention on keeping Pek out from under the rim.  It’s not an easy task, and it’s a way that teams will have to adjust their game plans around us, rather than vice versa.  Having sat through so many of these games since KG left, it’s refreshing to see the Wolves dictate personnel matchups.  Again, not every night, but a great deal of them.

In any case, I won’t spend more words than this news is worth.  You know who Pek is and what he brings.  He’s a fan fave.  “The Godfather.”

I’m glad he’ll be here for five more seasons.

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Show Me the Money

AriGold

To the great Arn Tellem, who orchestrated that ludicrous Tyreke contract AND got two more of his clients (Vasquez and Robin Lopez) traded to more favorable situations. How? He reps Anthony Davis, that’s how.

That’s been an underrated subplot lately: Teams buttering up power agents by overpaying their fringe clients as down payments for future extensions with the ones they really want. Just call them “down-payment contracts.” An even better example: Dan Fegan represents Martell Webster (mysteriously signed by the Wizards for a comically high $22 million) and John Wall (about to sign an $80 million extension with, yup, the Wizards). Congrats on your down-payment contract, Martell! Does this stuff work in real life? I might hire Tellem before my next ESPN contract — I want to see if I can get House and JackO multimillion-dollar deals.

–Bill Simmons, in Part 2 of his “Midnight Run” off-season column. This touches on Nikola Pekovic, and his weirdly-long and ongoing contract negotiations.  In Case You Missed It, Pek has the same agent as Kevin Love (Jeff Schwartz). In case this is your first time reading anything about the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kevin Love will — in all likelihood — be a free agent in 2015; just two more seasons away. It would shock no one if Schwartz was dropping not-even-a-little-bit-subtle hints about Client A during contract negotiations for Client B. I think that might be how the world works, actually.

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by | August 1, 2013 · 6:12 AM

Kevin Martin, Rick Adelman, Flip Saunders, and a Disjointed Pack of Wolves

Slim Shady Kevin Martin is the newest member of the Minnesota Timberwolves

Insane news about Kevin Martin. He’s a Wolf. 4 years, 28 million. Wow.*

What does the Martin deal mean for the Wolves? A bunch of things.

First, management issues.

  • Slick Rick: It looks like we can’t write off Rick Adelman after all as a player in the Wolves front office. First Chase is re-signed (more obvious), and now Martin is acquired (less obvious). Adelman clearly shaped these moves, which will have implications that are likely to outlast Rick’s tenure in Minnesota.
  • C2: It appears that we now have an AdelFlip in the stead of our AdelKahn. But the chain-of-command  and command and control structures in the organization seem less clear than in Kahn’s last season in ‘Sota. Does anyone else smell an impending deathmatch?
 Second, on Martin specifically: as with most of the least-worst choice deals you make in life, there’s both some good and some bad here.

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Timberwolves Season in Review, Part 1: A Retrospective

Bayno-Sikma 2012

[This is Part 1 of a season review series. This post looks back in time at the season that was. A subsequent post (or two!) will use what we learned this season to take a prospective look ahead at what the Timberwolves should look like in 2013-14 and beyond.]

1. Season Highlight?

Andy G: Win over the Thunder, December 20, 2012

I’ll kick this thing off. The highlight moment of the season is an easy choice for me: the win over OKC on Thursday Night TNT. It was December 20th, Christmas time. Spirits were high with the Wolves moving to 2 games over .500 (the last point in the season in which this was the case) with a 13-11 record. All of Alexey Shved (the lead guard for the Rubio-less portion of the season), Kevin Love, and Nikola Pekovic were dominant. Pek was pick-and-rolling bigger and stronger than the top team in the West could handle. Love spread the floor with three-point bombs, scoring 28 points along with 11 boards and 7 assists (career high?). He was awesome and looked the part of an MVP candidate. And young Alexey Shved was the orchestrator of everything. Pre-ROOKIE WALL Shved was something to behold and legit reason for Timberwolves optimism. His skillset was on display in that win over Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. Shved had a whopping 12 assists that night. Oh yeah, and JJ was GREAT JJ. He killed it during #WinningTime. All in all, that was a major highlight at a point in the season when the team had statewide interest and expectations of a playoff run.

Patrick J: Concur. OKC, December 20th, or “The Proof of Kahncept Game”

The Wolves’ victory over OKC was one the few games this season at Target Center I got to attend–I was back in Minnesota visiting family and had good tickets with Andy G & co to see what I expected to be an overmatched but spiteful Wolves squad take on the best team in the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Good JJ came out in full force that night — the goodest JJ that JJ can be. The rest of the team synced that night, the Wolves snapped a long OKC winning streak. Shved was Olympics Shved, Love owned, and it was basically the team we expected to see in 2012-13, minus Rubio. Imagine the potential of that team plus Rubio. I often do, and it’s a pretty amazing highlight given the way things actually turned out.

2. Season Lowlight?

Patrick J: The K-Love/Woj interview immediately prior to Rubio return.

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Trailing the Thunder (THUNDER 127, Wolves 111)

Screen Shot 2013-02-23 at 7.33.58 AM

from espn.com

Sometimes the simple game flow image tells 90 percent of the game story.  Last night the Thunder built an early lead — 10 points after the first quarter — and never looked back.  The Wolves almost had the lead cut to 5 at half, but Luke Ridnour blasted Russell Westbrook as he attempted a desperation trey at the horn, sending him to the foul line for a gratuitous three points.  The 8-point halftime deficit was as close as the game would get from that point forward, with much of the second half showing the Thunder ready to blow the game completely open.  They led by as many as 17 points at different moments and ultimately won by 16.  It was not a close game, nor was it a particularly interesting game to dissect.  But there were some sub plots.

The Thunder are good.

If ya don’t know, now ya know — Oklahoma City has a great pro basketball team.  Here’s something interesting about that: OKC’s winning percentage is .727 — obviously great — which if the season ended today would mean improvement for the FIFTH consecutive season.  Coach Scott Brooks takes an undue amount of heat (Bill Simmons took his umpteenth jab at him during ESPN’s pregame show, not-so-subtly suggesting that Russell Westbrook’s temper tantrums are somehow on Brooks) for a coach who inherited an incredibly young, 1-12 team and has molded them into a steadily-improving Western Conference superpower.  Obviously the talent of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant — on full display last night — is the overriding factor in the Thunder’s success.  But there’s so little to criticize about such a successful team that it seems discussion for discussion’s sake leads to Brooks getting ripped way more than he should.

In any case, the Thunder are awesome and reminded everyone of this last night.  Durant was his usual studly self.  He poured in 27 smooth points along with 7 rebounds and 7 assists.  When standing near the Wolves sideline during free throws, he took a moment to extend well wishes to Rick Adelman and family, dealing with a scary medical situation.  Dude is true class.  Russell Westbrook, whose volatility perhaps makes him less endearing to fans, was the better of the two superstars on Friday night.  Russ had 37 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds.  When he’s hitting that mid-range pull up he’s just a half-click below LeBron James on the Unstoppable Scale.  His historically-ridiculous explosiveness was on display when he was isolated one-on-one with Alexey Shved.  Shved is very good at staying in front of dribble penetration, erring on the side of backing off too far.  But Westbrook made him look knee-deep in quicksand, cruising past back-pedaling Shved for an easy two.

So yeah, the Thunder are good.  This isn’t news, but it is the primary piece of information gleaned from last night’s loss at Oklahoma City.

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Timberwolves at Grizzlies Preview: A Knockdown, Dragout Kind of Game

marc-gasol-go-kart

Will this man stand between Nik Pek and a 20+-point game?

Andy G: Wolves at Memphis tonight (5:00 CST, My29 for TV; 830 WCCO for radio) where they’ll face a Grizzlies team 13 games over .500. The Wolves? They’re 11 games below. Some big changes going on in Graceland that put the Grizzlies’ lofty standing in question. ESPN’s NUMB#RS guru, John Hollinger, joined the front office. Guess who’s no longer walkin’ through that door? That’d be you, Rudy Gay. Memphis now has Tayshawn Prince, whose extended, post-Aughts-dynasty stint in Detroit was the NBA’s version of an indefinite Gitmo detentionI. Seriously, what took so long for Dumars to find Prince a suitable home for a quality vet? In any case, he’s on a fringe Kahntender in Memphis now. He’s not exactly lighting the world on fire (9.3/3.3/3.5 in last 4 games) but we know he can play and he’s a gap-filler between a quick and feisty backcourt and big and bruising frountcourt.

Enough beating around the bush: Do the Wolves stand a chance of winning this game?

Patrick J: The Wolves stand a chance, but it’ll be a tough-fought win if it’s gonna come out in the Wolves’ favor. The big thing, to me, is the Gasol-Pekovic matchup. The Wolves have been able to rely – and need to rely – on Pek as their one consistent scoring threat throughout this tough stretch. But tonight, Pek gets the Gasol treatment. That means an extra-strength dose of pain for most opposing centers. And their backcourt is great at defense too. Mike Conley and Tony “000G” Allen make the lives of their oppenents miserable on a nightly basis. So Rubio, Luke, Shved & co, will have their work cut out for them. (Eds. Note: Allen has an excellent Twitter account, found here.)

So this leads to the next issue (assuming you agree) – can the Wolves get enough punch from Gelabale and/or D. Williams tonight to give them a shot in case our usual first options struggle?

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INBOX: A New “Pek”-ing Order? (A Wolves-Clips Preview of Sorts)

Artwork brought to you by Holly Grimsrud (http://www.hollygrimsrudart.com)

Artwork brought to you by Holly Grimsrud (http://www.hollygrimsrudart.com)

Andy G: Wolves host Clips tonight. CP3 isn’t playing. He has a bruised kneecap. The Clippers have lost 3 of their last 4 games played without their MVP. On our side of things, disaster relief is on the way. Nik Pekovic is back. Alexey Shved is back. And most importantly, Coach Rick Adelman is back. The Wolves should be able to trot out some semblance of a starting NBA lineup tonight, perhaps the only eye sore being Luke Ridnour at the starting off-guard, should Adelman choose to move Shved to 6th Man. Personally, I’d just as soon start GELABALE next to a creator like Ricky, but there’s no chance of that happening so I’ll stop right there. In any case, the way I see it the equation goes something like:

Adelman + Pek + Shved – CP3 = Automatic Wolves Win

Tell me why I’m wrong.

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Good Cop/Bad Cop (MAVERICKS 113, Wolves 98)

GOOD COP:  Nikola Pekovic put together a 20 & 12 in 32 minutes.
BAD COP:  Pek missed 6 free throws, had a game-worst -24 (correlation, not causation, to be fair) and Coach Terry Porter weirdly limited his best player to 32 minutes of action.  This, after playing just 29, 29, and 27 minutes in his last 3 games, respectively.  What does TP have against his best active player?

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