This’ll be a stream of consciousness post, but with headers!
Last night’s game: Ricky Choked!
Legit basketball was played last night. I’ve written recently about how this is unusual for the Timberwolves in the Spring months and how it maybe even marks a new day. It’s a thin little silver lining to a season lost by injuries. Credit goes to Toronto for winning a game that both teams seemed to be heavily invested in despite its lack of playoff implications. I hadn’t planned on attending it, but got a last-minute offer of great seats behind the visitor’s bench. It was clear from that vantage point how much the Raps players and coaches wanted that win. Kyle Lowry especially.
The high level of intensity provided background for Ricky Rubio’s two trips to the foul line with under two minutes to play. In each instance the Wolves trailed by two points. In each instance Ricky made just one out of two, leaving the Wolves behind by a point. The second instance happened with only 1 second left in the game, which meant that his miss cost the team a chance in overtime.
David Kahn: Back in the saddle for at least one more season
Ric Bucher reports the Wolves are set to extend David Kahn as POBO for at least one more season. And no, Flip Saunders didn’t turn down the Gophers coaching gig because he’s already secretly agreed to replace Kahn at 600 1st Ave:
Latest on Flip Saunders and Minnesota Timberwolves: source says David Kahn’s position as GM is secure and that the one-year option on his contract, if it has not been exercised already by the TWolves, will be shortly.
via Ric Bucher’s post on Basketball | Latest updates on Sulia.
What does this mean? More below the fold.
Why hasn’t Alexey Shved played more point guard this season?
Andy G: First things first: The Wolves won by 31 points last night. On the road. On the tail end of a back-to-back. That never happens. I guess I should mention that it came against the Phoenix Suns and — unlike the last time the Wolves played (and lost) in Phoenix — it wasn’t a WESLEY JOHNSON REVENGE GAME. (Wes shot 2 for 12 from the floor.) I’d ask for your thoughts on the game, but I doubt yours are any different than mine, which could be summed up as: Nice to get a win, nice to see Chase Budinger contributing right away, but Phoenix is horrible and we’re in the thick of Tanking Season. If any of that is incorrect, let me know.
Patrick J: Ditto. We like those wins, and as much as that, we like how the team performs so far with Chase on the floor. Granted, they aren’t playing worldbeaters – SAC and PHO are peer teams at best – but still, you see the potential there. It’s almost enough to make me wish I knew how it looked at full strength, with Kevin Love on the floor. But not quite. We’re in the dog days of the season, writing posts that feature Youtube vids of our favorite college prospects whom we’re watching in the NCAA tourney, and are far, far, far from playoff contention. Do you agree that you’d rather K-Love stay away the rest of the season so as not to risk reinjuring his hand, or (let’s just assume this for a fun hypothetical), do you want to see him return so we can see whether a healthy Wolves squad with a few rusty pieces can compete with the Murderer’s Row schedule they have coming up?
Hey folks, Patrick J here. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
Game tonight. Here’re the deets: Hornets @ Wolves. 6 PM. FSN, 830-AM.
Given that these game preview posts always include info on where you can see the game, it seems like a fan should never have trouble catching the action. But that’s not the case.
David defeated Goliath last night. Goliath wasn’t at full strength. It was down 3 of its 4 best players.
But that doesn’t really matter right now. Not for the Wolves. It was a good day.
Ricky Rubio showed why people are all jazzed, and always have been all jazzed, about Ricky Rubio.
Ricky being Ricky
That GIF says a 1,000 words. Rubio was great. He f*cked around and got a triple-double. Ice Cube would’ve been proud. Punch-Drunk Wolves sure was.
Tonight, the Wolves play Indiana. They’re real good. Real good. And unlike the Spurs, Indy isn’t sitting three of their top players. Frank Vogel would be happy to eat your heart and mine.
What to know about the Pacers game tonight? Andy G and I break down a few key factors in this INBOX post.
UPDATE (3/12, 12:24 PM): Dan McCarney is reporting that Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard didn’t make the trip to Minneapolis.
Spurs @ Wolves. 7 PM. FSN, 830-AM. Boo-yeah.
The Wolves take on the Spurs tonight at Target Center. On paper, it looks to be a lopsided affair. The Wolves are 21-39. They have lost consecutive games by over 20 points. The Spurs are 49-15. They just beat OKC by 12. Two games before that, they beat Chicago by 18.
The ray of hope for this one is that SAS is not invincible. Dame Lillard & co beat them 136-106 in San Antonio on March 8th in the worst loss of the extremely long Tim Duncan era. Can the Wolves shock the world tonight? If I knew the answer, I’d be on a flight to Vegas, not writing this.
That said, things look grim. The Blazers are fighting for the 8th seed in the West. The Wolves are, well – depending on how you judge incentives – fighting for a respectable finish or a higher lottery pick. One thing they’re decidedly not fighting for is a playoff spot.
Which isn’t to say that they aren’t playing hard.
Anyone who’s been watching knows Ricky Rubio is setting an example that good players on bad teams ought to be required to follow. The energy and leadership Rubio displays nightly is a model for other NBAers to follow (even if his jump shot isn’t).
1. A win! Normally a hard-fought home win over the Wizards in March wouldn’t feel like cause for celebration. But this was — like all too many games this season — an extremely shorthanded Wolves lineup without Andrei Kirilenko, Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Love and Chase Budinger. This collection that trots out Mickael Gelabale and Greg Stiemsma in the starting lineup (and Luke Ridnour starting at shooting guard) should be laughably overmatched. But they play hard and, for the most part, make the best ball decisions within their abilities and tonight that was enough for a win. The Wizards aren’t so bad anymore, either. At least not since John Wall returned from injury, they’re not. With the dynamic young point in the lineup they were 14-11 heading into tonight’s game. For the Wolves to win without 80 percent of their preferred starting lineup is impressive indeed.
John Wall. Ricky Rubio. That’s it.
No Love no Bud no Pek no ‘Drei no Roy.
You should watch tonight’s game if for no reason other than that no other point guard in the NBA can do what John Wall does in that vid.
The Wolves are depleted by injuries and totally removed from contention for a playoff spot. So when the defending champs come to town and J.J. Barea gets into basketball’s version of a fight with a future hall of famer, that kind of steals the show. As the replay makes clear, his foul on Ray Allen wasn’t THAT out of line. He thought he was fouled on the other end going for a layup, and then again when Allen lightly shoved off in the backcourt. So J.J. had enough and put some extra weight — to the extent the little guy has much to throw around — into a blocking foul that perhaps doubled as a body check. Allen fell to the ground and flew up angry.
As is the case with all pro basketball players not named West or Peace (!) it was just a show. Some woofing and “HOLD ME BACK” but no real harm done. But the crowd enjoyed the uptick in feistiness — that is, until Barea was hit with an inexplicable Flagrant 2 and was ejected from the game. That was quickly followed by Adelman’s own technical and a rare departure from Minnesota Nice that had Wolves fans lobbing all kinds of personal insults at the significant contingent of fans donning Miami Red and Black. (This part was actually pretty stupid and made me feel like I was at an NFL game. The Heat fans in my section weren’t provoking anything.)
What had the look of a surprisingly-competitive game (76-70 Miami led) quickly became a rout in favor of the road team. After awarding Allen 3 free throws for the flagrant and technical, Alexey Shved had a 3-pointer waived off for “kicking.” Then Dante Cunningham was whistled for a charge. The Wolves became unglued and Dwyane Wade took over from there. The final score was 97-81.
Some observations from the other 47 minutes and 59 seconds of action:
This was the takeaway from last night’s game. Everything else was about as expected. Lopsided loss (21st consecutive to LaLa), another injury to a key player (Pek) and an all around look of hopelessness. I’ll have more tomorrow.