Tag Archives: Rick Adelman

But I don’t wanna wait! (WARRIORS 96, Wolves 85)

Five losses in a row and Ricky Rubio cannot return fast enough.  Kevin Love’s unexpectedly-quick recovery from hand fractures, and immediate production of NUMB#RS, is not translating into wins.  Minnesota is 0-3 since Love’s return.  The common theme of the last three losses is building an early lead that evaporates as the missed shots and blown pick-and-roll assignments pile up.  Tonight, the Wolves’ apex came in the mid-2nd Quarter when Alexey Shved and the second unit caught fire and extended the lead to 11, at 35-24.  There would be no “fire” after that, unless you mean Steph Curry bombing from 27 feet.  The Wolves lead dwindled to 4 at the half and it was a struggle to keep heads above water after that.  Things fell apart in a catastrophic 4th Quarter that the Warriors won 26-11.  Minnesota was stuck on 79 points (beginning the stretch with a 5-point lead) from the 10:19 mark in the 4th all the way to 5:28.  After Kevin Love [finally] broke the seal with a bucket, the Wolves again stuck on 81 points until a Pekovic free throw at the 2:40 mark.  3 points in 7:39.  There is your game wrap.

The Wolves don’t play Sunday and they don’t play Monday, so it’s worth addressing some broader questions.  Continue reading

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Second Guessing

I think Randy Wittman is a bad NBA basketball coach. I know that Randy Wittman understands basketball better than I do.

Randy Wittman played four years of college basketball at Indiana University.  He played there for Bobby Knight, one of the greatest coaches in the history of sports.  In Wittman’s sophomore season, the Hoosiers won a national title.  In his senior season, Wittman was Big Ten Player of the Year on a team that won the conference.  After his highly successful collegiate career, Wittman went on to play ten seasons of NBA basketball.  Most of those seasons were with the Atlanta Hawks, coached by winner of more than 1200 games and the 1985-86 NBA Coach of the Year Award, Mike Fratello.  Shortly after his playing career ended, Wittman entered the coaching ranks himself.  He spent eight seasons as an NBA assistant coach, most of them under Flip Saunders with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the early seasons of Kevin Garnett’s career.  With that incredible basketball resume’, Witt finally landed his first head coaching job.  He was hired by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1999 and spent two seasons on their bench before being fired.

I list these career accomplishments of Wittman not because I want to write his biography, but because when he later coached the Timberwolves I criticized his abilities and decisions countless times even though I am 100 percent sure that he understands basketball much better than I do.  Continue reading

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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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Back to Target Center

Alexey Shved makes his Target Center debut tonight versus the Chicago Bulls.

Thank God that the short window of nice Minnesota weather is behind us and we can get back to our usual routine of spending 1 or 2 nights per week inside Target Center watching the Wolves, amiright?  The fun parts of preseason are seeing the new faces and looking for signs of change, good or bad, that could impact the team’s chances at regular (and post!) season success.  Two years ago at the home preseason debut, I was taken by how big and athletic Michael Beasley was, and the ease with which he could rise up for clear looks at the basket.  Though Beas has enough weaknesses to offset this strength, it has been one that serves him well in giving his team a scoring punch.  This was evident in a single viewing of a game that didn’t actually *matter*.  Last year was Ricky’s debut.  We did our best to temper enthusiasm, but the passes he was delivering were unlike anything we’d seen.  Ricky had eyes on all sides of his head, it seemed.  Like with Beasley’s dribble jumpers, Ricky’s passing wizardry carried over into the real games and he’s now one of the league’s most marketable young stars.

What should we keep an eye out for in tonight’s game against Chicago? Continue reading

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Training Camp Murmurs, Take 1: Shved, Williams, Love, Roy, Budinger

There isn’t a high volume of meaty information coming from Timberwolves training camp. But there are interesting tidbits here and there.

One such tidbit involves Alexey Shved. Shved is a talent, but coming into camp there were question marks about his frame and his lack of experience, despite the skills and composure he put on display at the Olympics.

But Shved has kept on truckin’ during the first two days of camp.

Joan Niesen has the choice firsthand info on Shved:

“Yes, Shved is thin, but he’s also taller than Adelman expected, and he’s not getting manhandled on the court. He looked good in 5-on-5 on Tuesday, playing smoothly and quickly,” Niesen reports.

Wolves coach Rick Adelman concurs.

“I just don’t see him getting pushed around,” Adelman said. “I said before, the thing that will be the biggest adjustment is at the defensive end. He’s just going to have guys coming at him all the time, and that’s where he’s going to make his adjustment. He’s going to get better offensively because he has skills.”

So does teammate and fellow Russian Andrei Kirilenko.

“He’s a young, talented guy who can really run and bring you a lot of energy on the floor,” Kirilenko said. “He’s not afraid to take a shot in the crunch moment, which is needed on every team in the NBA. He’s young, with the potential to keep growing.”

Other training camp tidbits that got my attention are below the fold.

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Chain of Command

Rick Adelman can thank David Kahn for the opportunity to coach Ricky Rubio. But what about the rest of this roster?

Let’s do a quick back of the envelope scorecard of David Kahn’s performance.

Selecting Jonny Flynn over Steph Curry.  Check.

Trading Ty Lawson. Check.

Selecting Wes Johnson over DeMarcus Cousins or Greg Monroe. Double check.

Hiring Kurt Rambis. Check.

Long-term contract for Darko Milicic. Check.

Each move was, as the saying goes, an “epic fail.”  And each is solely attributed to David Kahn, Timberwolves POBO.

Kahn has become something of a sports management sensation, not only for surviving these blunders, but for coupling them with public-speaking gaffes that have provided endless amounts of material for sportswriters and bloggers the world around. Continue reading

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Top Wolves Questions Heading Into Training Camp, Part II

Can Brandon Roy take over as the Wolves’ closer?

With training camp just around the corner, there are a bunch of top-level questions that remain unanswered as October 2nd approaches. There’s been a ton turnover on the roster, and many players’ roles are anything but clear. Long story short, the team’s success this season will likely hinge on the answers.

In part 2 of a two-part series, I look at the ten questions I think are most important heading into the 2012-13 season. The countdown, from #5 – #1, is below the fold.

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Searching for Princeton

When it was announced that Rick Adelman would replace Kurt Rambis as head coach of the Timberwolves, there was a palpable buzz around the team with all that was transpiring.  Ricky Rubio (finally) arrived, Derrick Williams was drafted, Kevin Love was still here, and now we had not only a competent head coach, but a future Hall of Famer and innovator.  After the immediate and knee-jerk reaction of “this is awesome” wore off, some conversation turned toward what the offense would look like under Coach Adelman. Continue reading

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Royal Beatdown (KINGS 115, Wolves 99)

With Ricky on the mend (surgery this Wednesday), the season hitting the homestretch, and the Wolves’ playoff hopes looking dimmer by the day (now 2.5 games behind Houston for the 8 seed), there is less and less to add to the discussion with these game wraps.  With that in mind, I’ll share a few brief observations about each Wolves player from this disappointing loss that may not come through in the newspaper: Continue reading

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Weird is Good (WOLVES 106, Blazers 94)

Minnesota beat Portland tonight for the second time in five days.  The following facts describe the two matchups:

  • Three point guards (Rubio, Ridnour, Barea) played a combined 88 minutes in each game.  The team was essentially going without a two guard.
  • Kevin Love averaged 35.5 points, 13 rebounds, and 3.5 assists over the two victories.  While he didn’t guard LaMarcus Aldridge all of the time, he certainly outplayed him.
  • Wes Johnson played a combined 37 minutes.  In that time he scored 25 points on 10-13 shooting.  In tonight’s game, he even dribbled and cut a few times.
  • Coach Adelman was able to find 56 minutes of playing time for Derrick Williams, despite his playing Kevin Love’s position.  The rook averaged 12 points and 7.5 rebounds over the two games, off the bench.
  • The Wolves won both games; the first two victories over Portland since Kevin Garnett was wearing #21 for the good guys.  If Saturday was a rite of passage, tonight was a statement game.
  • Most importantly, the Wolves combined for 25-46 shooting from downtown.  54 percent shooting from 3 is going to lead to victories for almost any team.  Especially in high volume.

What does it mean?

If you haven’t noticed already I am as prone as any NBA rube to making kneejerk reactions.  One minute my trade machine has Derrick Williams going to Boston for cap space and the next I’m lauding him as the next Amar’e Stoudemire (that used to be a compliment.)  But as more games are played–not just Wolves games but all around the league–what I’m finding more and more is that there is no such thing as a prototype NBA roster.  A team with a classic 1-2-3-4-5 is no more likely to be successful than one with some oddities.  Dallas won the championship last year with a 50-year old point guard and (for the deciding Game 6 at least) our very own midget, J.J. Barea, playing the two.  Miami, the perpetual title favorite for as long as Wade and James are playing, has an offense built around two wings that are almost the exact same offensive player.  Chicago built a contender around a single offensive threat who (oh by the way) happens to play point guard.

The Wolves are winning games with a weird team.  Not only do they start two point guards, but they bring a third off the bench for big minutes.  It is all point guards all the time.  And it works.  Luke is showing off what a tremendous shooter he is, relieved of primary playmaking duties that he sometimes struggles with.  When J.J. comes in and inevitably finds himself defending the post, he draws a charge.  EVERY SINGLE TIME.  Ricky is versatile on defense, often switching and jumping the passing lanes.  On offense, he’s a true point.  It seems to work.

On the front line, things were just starting to reek of conventionality when Pekovic went down with a foot injury.  Tonight (and Monday versus the Clippers) we saw extended sequences with Williams at the 4 and Love at the 5.  I’ve made my feelings clear on this idea.

I write about this because the trade deadline is looming (March 15) and every Wolves fan has their own shooting guard who the team MUST pursue.  Some want Kevin Martin while others prefer Jamal Crawford or Monta Ellis.  I’ve clamored for Eric Gordon.

Well, the Wolves have now won 8 of their last 11 games and if the season ended right now they would be in the playoffs.  Is it really time to deal away a starting player?  The Wolves are a weird team.  When they’re hot, they chuck away from downtown and shots fall.  Kevin Love is the league’s most-productive and stabilizing force.  He is our Batman; a constant force.  His Robin walks through a revolving door with a new face on, each game.  A trade isn’t likely to bring in a star player of real notoriety.  Kevin McHale isn’t walkin’ through that door.  Neither is, I’m guessing, his current shooting guard, Kevin Martin.

In a Western Conference that looks more wide open by the day, why not just embrace the weirdness of a dual point guard/power forward/Balkan center lineup that has all sorts of personalities and nearly shatters the Likeability Scale?

Of course, after Friday’s Laker game the Wolves play New Orleans and Phoenix.  If they drop that pair I promise to write 5,000 words about the need for a veteran wing, balanced roster, go-to hero scorer, and every other adage and convention I can think of.

I hope that doesn’t happen.

Season Record: 21-19 (Currently 8th in Western Conference)

 

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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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JRUBIO (WOLVES 92, 76ers 91)

Jrue Clownin'

Tonight’s matchup with Philly turned into an interesting contest.  It was interesting because a near-capacity crowd showed up on a Sunday night even though the Sixers don’t have a “superstar” talent that typically draws big attendance.  It was interesting because it was very close for nearly the entire game.  It was interesting because Jrue Holiday and Ricky Rubio are each fascinating players in different ways.  And it was interesting because the Wolves won by a single point, in somewhat bizarre fashion.

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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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INBOX: The Trade Speculation Edition

An impossible dream?

 

Q: How about this: Derrick Williams and Nikola Pekovic for Eric Gordon and Trevor Ariza? The Wolves need a shooting guard. Pek is playing out of his mind. Williams still has the reputation value of a #2 pick. Gordon is pissed about being traded to New Orleans and has only played 2 games this year, with a “knee contusion” that wasn’t really a contusion. He’s probably not even injured. Trade machine says it’d be legal. Why don’t both teams help themselves and do this deal?

- Andy G

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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.

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Replacing Kevin Love, Part II: Derrick Williams vs Michael Beasley

Derrick Williams

Yesterday we asked who should replace Kevin Love in the starting lineup during Love’s suspension. Your response: Derrick Williams. And it wasn’t even close.

Williams and Michael Beasley are the most likely candidates to replace Love. Love’s suspension is an interesting if brief experiment to see what they might look like if Love weren’t locking down the four. Both have tantalizing talent, but neither has realized his full potential. Some have claimed that Love’s incumbency as the Wolves PF has hindered the development and performance of both Beasley and Williams by limiting their playing time and forcing them to play out of position.

It’s an intriguing experiment regardless of who gets the bulk of Love’s minutes. Before it begins, I wanted to take a close look at Williams and Beasley’s numbers this season to see if they suggest any interesting hypotheses.

The stats reveal some interesting trends.

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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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An Adelman Hook: What went wrong for Beasley in the 2nd Half

The following is a bulleted outline, breaking down Beasley’s second-half meltdown last night that led to a quick yank and less than four minutes of playing time for the entire half.  My initial reaction was that Adelman pulled the hook too early, and let Beasley get cold on the bench for way too long to start the half.

  • 78-71 Wolves: 1:27 to go in 3rd Quarter, Beasley checks into game for first time in the period.
  • Nets
    • Farmar hits jumpshot
      • Beasley is guarding Keith Bogans, isn’t involved in this play.
  • Wolves
    • Beasley catches pass, passes back.  It’s returned to him in a bad spot in the corner, he’s doubled, ball is knocked out of bounds by defense.
    • Ridnour turns ball over when he jumps to pass and pass isn’t there.
  • Nets
    • Beasley guarding Bogans on wing, Farmar drives Beasley shades to middle.  Farmar kicks out to Bogans who shoots three.  Beasley leaps toward Bogans on close-out, Bogans misses shot, Wolves rebound.
  • Wolves
    • Beasley is in corner.  Barea drives, forces shot.  Misses shot, Love rebounds and converts shot.
  • Nets
    • Farmar drives, Ridnour commits blocking foul.
    • Beasley defends Bogans in corner, when guard penetrates toward Beasley’s side, Bogans cuts backdoor.  Beasley loses sight of his man, Bogans catches pass, misses contested layup.  Scrum ensues, Nets eventually score on basket in the paint.
  • Wolves
    • On final possession of quarter, Luke and Love unsuccessfully attempt a post up.  Quarter ends with desperation miss by Love at buzzer.
  • 4th Quarter
  • Wolves
    • Love has ball above high post, Beasley comes off of screen to catch and shoot from 16 feet.  He changes his mind in mid air (appears to see an open Wolf, but it isn’t there) and turns ball over.  The shot would have been there, had he just taken it.
  • Nets
    • Morrow is defended by Beasley.  Sets him up for a good down screen, Beasley doesn’t do a great job of being ready for this.  By the time he comes around the screen, Morrow is shooting.  Beasley leaps at him and hits his arm, Morrow makes the shot, falls to the ground and Beasley is whistled for the foul.  Three-point play.
  • Wolves
    • Beasley positioned in corner.  Rubio dangles around and eventually sets up Pekovic for a close shot.  Pek is fouled and goes to the line.
  • Nets
    • Beasley defending Shawne Williams.  Farmar has the ball on the wing and Williams sets a ball screen.  Beasley gives a half-show and floats back toward Williams, who popped to the corner.  Farmar flips the ball back to Williams who shoots the three in rhythm.  Beasley is not all the way out to contest the shot well.  Williams makes the shot.  Williams is shooting 26.5 percent from 3 this season, but 34.2 percent for his career.
  • Wolves
    • Love posts up, Beasley is in the way at first.  Beasley clears out to the corner, Love is passed the ball and converts a nice jump hook.
  • Nets
    • Beasley defending Williams who is in the corner, opposite the ball.  Beasley is in proper help position, just outside the paint on the weak side.  Shot goes up and Beasley waits for it.  Williams rushes in from the three line as Beasley is reaching up for the rebound.  Williams slaps at the ball and knocks it loose.  Basket is converted.
  • Wolves
    • Beasley posts up on the mid post.  Rubio passes it to him, and Beasley is immediately fouled by Williams on the pass.
  • 9:57 remaining in the 4th Quarter.  Wolves lead 84-83.  Wesley Johnson substitutes Michael Beasley.

CONCLUSIONS

  • Playing Time: 3:30
  • Stats: 0 points or shots, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 turnover
  • Defense: 1 missed blockout, 1 time burned backdoor, 1 stupid foul and mediocre defense on Morrow shot, 1 time surrendered a pick-and-pop three to a 26.5 percent shooter, 1 time contested three attempt by Bogans with shot missed.
  • My Opinions: Watching it again, he had a string of successful plays against him, some with more culpability than others.  I’m fine with the decision to yank him if that’s Adelman’s way.  I guess I am more puzzled by him sitting out 10:33 after halftime when he had such a productive first half.  The lead was already slipping some with Mike on the bench (from 11 down to 7) and he probably sat too long.  Also, the player who came in for Mike (Wes) made many mistakes, most notably fouling a three-point shooter when his team was up by 5.  Of course, that shot went in.  I hope things go better for Mike tonight, and he learns to be more focused defensively.  So it goes.

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A Serbian Nightmare (Wolves 108, NETS 105)

The Godfather

6:48, Andy G: So, Darko and Wes start again.  Both playing like crap again.  Wolves fall behind early. What gives?
7:08, Patrick J: One quarter in the books. Wolves up 23-19. ANOTHER bad start. Coincidence? This is hard to watch. Quick, does anyone have a good Kris Humphries joke?
7:15, Andy G: Barea and Beasley give a huge spark off the bench, just like last game.  I hope each gets more tick tonight than they did versus Indiana.
7:20, Patrick J: (Eds. note: Derrick Williams with a huge tomahawk with 5:58 in the 2nd). How much more athletic is the Derrick Williams we have than the Derrick Williams we thought we were getting when we drafted him? God this guy can cram.
7:28, Andy G: This Rubio-Ridnour backcourt is looking pretty horrific, tonight.  Now Webster joins them and body slams D-Will for a turnover.  The bench is way-outplaying the starting lineup so far.
7:32, Andy G: If K-Hump & Shelden become a PROBLEM, I’m going to be pissed.  It’s looking like a real possibility in first half.
7:36, Andy G: Rubio finishing half well, assists a Webster trey, finds Tolliver for dunk attempt/fouled.
7:38, Patrick J: The Wolves consistently get DESTROYED by shooters like ANTHONY MORROW. 20 pts in the first half and it looked like a breeze. Wayne Ellington is already salivating about the NUMB#RS he’ll have against the Wolves with his next team. 50-49 Nets at the half.
7:43, Andy G: I’m going to (slightly) disagree.  Morrow hit at least two 3’s with a hand RIGHT in his face (once Luke, once Martell).  But 20 points is a ton.  The dish from D-Will (between legs, backwards) was also pretty much set up by an elite point guard.
7:47, Patrick J: As long as you’re not disagreeing with my point about Wayne…
7:49, Patrick J: (Eds. note: Still halftime) I’m going to burn a Kurt Rambis doll in effigy if Adelman doesn’t give the Barea/Beasley/Pekovic group more time in the second half. They  gave a HUGE spark off the bench in the first half.
7:53, Andy G: By the way, what’s up with Kevlar?  6 points on 1-6 shooting, and a (-8)?  He should be able to beat up on this Jersey Shore front line.

7:57, Patrick J: Pekovic starts the 2nd half. My Rambis doll is safe for now.

8:01, Andy G: In a short sequence, Rubio picked Deron’s pocket and assisted Wes TWICE (no small feat).  What a baller.
8:02, Patrick J: Nets announcer: “They might lead the NBA in beards” (referring to the Wolves). Shows side-by-side mug shot pics of Love and Brad Miller while Pekovic is busy scoring inside. Doesn’t seem amused. 59-58 Nets with 7:15 in the 3rd.
8:06, Patrick J: Rubio with the sickest handling trick I’ve seen this season. You’ll want to watch SportsCenter, like, now.
8:09, Patrick J: Okay, Pekovic is outclassing Love. (Insert “Apocalypse” cliche here.) Pek has 17/8 and Love 10/5 with 3:26 left in the 3rd.
8:14, Andy G: Nets with an UNSPEAKABLY-BAD second unit leading comeback charge.  Where the fuck is Michael Beasley?  (See first half line of 10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists in 12 minutes of action.)  Has been sitting almost entire 3rd Quarter, now…
8:24, Patrick J: The Godfather has 21/10. Wolves up 84-83 with 10:02 in 4th. (Eds. note: Beasley’s FINALLY back on the floor after a painfully long absence. Thanks Rick!)
8:27, Patrick J: Nine minutes to go. Morrow’s 31 beat Pek’s 21. NOT a moral victory.
8:33, Andy G: After a couple of mistakes that followed a RIDICULOUSLY-long stretch on the pine, Beasley is quickly yanked.  I GUARANTEE that this has something to do with an unknown, off-game court event.  Mike outplayed all of his teammates, save Pek, in the first half, and gets this treatment?  I hope it’s nothing too serious with the coaching staff and higher ups.
9:32, Patrick J: Wes flails awkwardly on a contested miss from just inside the foul line. Having to write about Wes like this every day makes think I’m having a really long, nerdy, nightmare. ‘Cause in real life Wes would be over with Anthony Randolph, right? Right?
8:38, Patrick J: Tied at 89 with 5:39 to go. About to enter #winningtime.
8:41, Andy G: Rubio & Love exchanging clutch baskets with Morrow (!!!)… close game.  Should be exciting finish.  (Seriously, Morrow has 35 points and might hit 40 soon… was he one of those Rambis Targets that killed us last year or the year before?)
8:42, Patrick J: Nets announcer: “Anthony Morrow can do no wrong.” Nightmare hypothesis confirmed. 95-95 with 2:38 in 4th.
8:45, Patrick J: Morrow’s in a “Shitty Player, Wolves Killer” category that includes C.J. WATSON, REGGIE WILLIAMS, RYAN ANDERSON (okay, Anderson’s actually really good).
8:46, Patrick J: Nets announcer: “ANTHONY MORROW IS UNCONSCIOUS!” (I’m starting to worry I’ll never wake up.) Back to the announcer: this guy clearly came up listening to Kevin Harlan.
8:57, Andy G: A barrage of Rubio-Love-Pekovic led action has the Wolves winning this game.
8:57, Andy G: Okay, ANTHONY MORROW just hit a 3… AND GOT FOULED!!!!!!  41 Points!!!!! WTF?!?! Wolves lead by 1 with 23 seconds left.  A victory was in hand, now very much in doubt.
9:00, Patrick J: My League Pass Broadband cut out for a minute. When it came back to life, Morrow was finishing a 4-point play. Yeah.
9:02, Patrick J: Barea makes two throw with 18.2 left. Wolves 106, Nets 103.
9:05, Andy G: Game over, Rubio seals the win with a steal and Seve-like wedge shot just passed mid court with some backspin.  A few parting thoughts:
* The Beasley benching was a little weird.  Then again, once Rubio-Love-Pek got it going, perhaps Adelman thought Beasley wasn’t needed.  But why then play Luke at the 2, who isn’t so good on defense?  Strange stuff.
* If a guy like Anthony Morrow is going off, should the Wolves abandon defensive principles and stick to him (the way, say, Ray Allen is guarded) or assume the HOT HAND THEORY doesn’t exist and defend as usual?  Good question.  I don’t know the answer.
* Rubio and Love played extremely hard, and extremely in sync in the 4th Quarter of this game.  Big Pek dominated quarters 1 through 3, but Rubio-Love took this home.  That late possession when Morrow put them up 3 (with another 3) and Rubio quickly answered it with a driving basket… that was a sign that Ricky was not letting this one go easy.
* A road win is a good win.
PARTING SHOTS, REDUX (Patrick J)
* Weird, weird win.  Love was off most of the night; Pek and Morrow were the stories. This permutation of events is unlikely ever to occur again. Those who tuned in witnessed history.
* That said, it was largely difficult to watch. The Pek sideshow is funny but I don’t like that fans are beginning to think he’s a solution at the 5. Dude’s a backup.
* Can we get some more Mike Beasley? Or some Derrick Williams? I won’t say anything else because it’s already in every other post we put up.
* Darko sat, and so did Wayne. If I’m going to criticize Adelman’s playing time allocations, he also gets credit where credit’s due.
Season Record: 11-12

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Pacing the Competition (Pacers 109, WOLVES 99)

So, the Wolves lost last night to the Pacers 109-99 (box score). What did we learn? For one thing, the Pacers are good. Really good. Maybe the 3rd best team in the East, depending on what you think about the Sixers, Hawks, and Magic. A lot of words have been typed about the Sixers resurgence, and while they’re playing great, I like Indiana better from top to bottom. They don’t have a lot of weaknesses, they play hard, and their pieces fit together nicely. They were 14-6 coming into last night’s game, but the buzz around the game made it feel like the Wolves should be the favorite. The bad loss was a painful reality check that should  remind the Wolves that progress does not a good team make.

A few bullets:

* The Wolves throw away minutes when they start Wes and Darko. Both started; each played 18 minutes.  Wes went 2-6 with 2 turnovers and a (-12). Darko was 2-9 with 2 turnovers and a (-15).  Yes, +/- is a slippery metric for single-game performance. But look at their season stats. They’re entirely consistent with both the horrendous efforts we saw last night and what we’ve seen with our own eyes all season. Adelman must see it too, right? A combined 4 for 15 with 4 turnovers and (-27) is hardly an uncommon line for these two. Playing either of them, let alone both, is really hurting the team.

* More Wes/Darko: It’s even more frustrating and confounding that they got those minutes last night since Adelman had a fuller squad at his disposal. I get that Hibbert and Granger/George look like matchup problems for Pek/AR and Beasley/Williams, respectively. But all three of those Pacers pretty much did what they want against Darko and Wes. Why not counter with Williams and Beasley and initiate matchup problems for IND? Last night was a tactical #fail for Adelman, his first and hopefully last of the season.

* Speaking of Paul George: He MIGHT be better than Wes. PG ended up in foul trouble, but when he was out there… whoa. He did it all. For starters, he defended Rubio as well as anyone this season; he also hit an impressive variety of shots, going 4-6 on fadeaways, threes, drives, etc. You name it, it’s in George’s arsenal. But that’s not all: George rebounds and can block shots too. For the night, he was +14 in just 19 minutes of action.

* The Pacers: I don’t want this to turn into a “__________ are so good” sort of discussion that was so common the last few seasons, when every Wolves drumming left us feeling like our opponent was just THAT GOOD… but as I said at the top of the post, the Pacers are pretty damn good. Granger won’t always light it up on this scale–he went for 36–but his 9-19 shooting wasn’t way outside his norm either.  Granger made some perimeter shots, carved up the Wolves D, and drew all kinds of fouls in the process.

* The Pacers got momentum after Granger picked up a tech in the third for a pushing match with Love.  The two took it outside, 21st century style–which of course involves Twitter. Love dissed Indy in the post-game interviews, and Danny took it to Twitter. They may be questioning each other’s MASCULINITY through SMS as I write this.

* Roy Hibbert: He’s really good. Hibbert scored easily on Darko (6-9 for 15 points) and showed off a variety of nice moves with his back to the basket. For a 7’2″ player, Hibbert has good footwork and surprising athleticism.  In a league largely devoid of star post players, Hibbert could make an All-Star team before he’s done.

What were your takeaways from this one?

Wolves record: 10-12

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by | February 2, 2012 · 11:56 AM