Tag Archives: Timberwolves

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!! (Wolves Beat LeBron, INBOX Edition)

Andy G: The Wolves took on LeBron James and the two-time defending champion Miami Heat last night, so they must’ve lost, right?

No!

For the first time in approximately forever the Wolves were victors over a team with LeBron James on it. (Eds note: I think Dave or Jim on the broadcast said the last time was 2005, back about when ‘Bron was going to war with Agent Zero and Caron Butler’s Wizards in the Playoffs. How long ago does that seem?) It took a pair of overtimes, some Kevin Love and even Chase Budinger heroics (!) and every ounce of Ricky Rubio’s floor-generaling stamina, but they eked it out.

They eked it out, of course, on a missed Corey Brewer backwards alley-oop layup attempt… in which he was fouled for some reason! He made one of the free throws. Crazy ending to a crazy game.

I enjoyed it tremendously.

Your thoughts?

Patrick J: The Brewer “shot” (at about 3:20 in those highlights) was one of the most amazing I’ve ever seen that didn’t go in. You know how Corey does inexplicable stuff all the time and it’s sort of endearing and sort of grating? This was one of those times. I still don’t know (1) how he even got in position to get that shot, (2) how he formulated the idea that the shot could look like that, (3) how he managed to draw a foul call on such an ill-advised shot. But that’s just Brew. Continue reading

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Wolves Report Card (WOLVES 109, Lakers 99)

We’re not really creatures of habit here and I try to mix up game wrap formats.

So I’ll borrow one from the excellent Knickerblogger site and do this one Report Card style.

Starters

Ricky Rubio: B+
Ricky had 13 assists and just 2 turnovers. Combine those stats with his 6 boards and +5 plus-minus and he deserves a positive grade even when he scored only 4 points on 1-4 shooting.

Coach Adelman yanked Rubio after an unnecessarily fancy pass in the 3rd Quarter, when the lead was shrinking. After the game, Britt Robson asked Coach if the flashy mistake was the reason for the immediate hook. Adelman replied, “We’ve been talking to him all the time about there’s a time and a place to attack the basket. And I think we were up 15 or 16 points up at that point, got the ball, and it’s one on five. And the chances are that nothing good’s gonna come out of that. Make them guard us for 20 seconds. Know the time. Know the score. And that’s just something he’s got to learn; when to pull it back. I was gonna take him out anyway for a blow, but that sealed it.”

It has become clear that Adelman and Rubio are not always on the same page. Ricky handles his late-game benchings with class, which comes as no surprise to anyone who has followed his career. And tonight, I should add, Ricky played down the stretch over Barea. But there are both stylistic and substantive reasons for the times Adelman chooses JJ in crucial situations and the quick hook after the turnover tonight was yet another message, even if a more subtle one.

But all things considered, Ricky played well tonight in his 31 minutes of action. Continue reading

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The Wolves Year in Review, 2013 (The Punch-Drunk Edition)

wolves2013

Here we go. A month-by-month rundown of our best and worst Wolves moments of 2013.

January (AG)

Best: Gelabale & Johnson Beat the Rockets

Remember all of the injuries last season?

What’s that? You’re hoping to never think about them again? Okay fine.

Let’s talk about who *was* healthy during the middle of the 2012-13 campaign. Signed to 10-day Kahntracts were Mickael Gelabale from France and Chris Johnson from Louisiana State and the D-League.

On January 19, 2013, riding a five-game losing streak and playing in James Harden’s house, a Timberwolves win was not expected. DNPs would be registered for Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Chase Budinger, Alexey Shved (pre stock plunge), and Brandon Roy.

Worries of a sixth consecutive loss were put to rest in the fourth quarter thanks to the dominant play of the 10-Day Wonders, Johnson & Gelabale. The Wolves won by 13, largely on the backs of the two newbies. Johnson had 15 points and 6 boards. He made all of his field goal attempts. Gelabale scored 11 points, 10 of which came in a hot stretch of the fourth quarter. He also contained Harden on the other end.

For one night, amid a miserable season of bad news and medical updates, the Wolves provided a feel-good story about two young guys trying to carve out NBA careers for themselves.

Worst: Everything else

Aside from that win over Houston, the Wolves were 2-10 in January. In the month’s first game, at Denver, Kevin Love reinjured his hand; this time shelving him for the rest of the season. In our season retrospective post, I named the January freefall as the lowpoint. I stand by that. They were getting blown out repeatedly. The injuries were such a real excuse that fans couldn’t really even get mad. What’s the opposite of cathartic?

I hated last January.

February (PJ)

Best: Timberwolves Destroy the Hornets in a Laugher on February 2

On February 2, the Wolves beat the New Orleans Hornets 115-86 in a laugher (boxscore here). The 29-point win was the only lopsided win the Wolves got in February, and it’s nice for Wolves fans to get to sit back and enjoy a dominant performance every once in a while.

Kevin Love was already out for the season by this point, but everyone contributed, making the lopsided win even more satisfying.

Indeed, the bench did most of the damage: Dante had 18 points on a perfect 9-9 from the floor; Shved had 12 points, 8 assists, and 4 boards and looked like a real prospect; Gelabale had 11 and 5, shooting 4-5 in 21 minutes.

Worst: The Games Didn’t Mean Much Anymore…and Alexey Shved Started to Disappoint

February was another bad month for the Wolves. After going 3-12 in January, they went 3-10 in February. Apart from the lopsided win over NOLA on February 2, their only wins in February were over Cleveland and Philly–not exactly powerhouse teams.

The NOLA game was one of the last times Good Alexey has been seen in an NBA game. Starting in mid-February, his game took a precipitous decline. The Alexey of late 2012 and early 2013 hasn’t been seen again.

March (AG)

Best: Ricky Rubio’s Triple Double

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Is it time to press the panic button?

rickpanic

This is not how they wanted to enter the holiday. Having lost four of their past five games and with a brutal four-game stretch after Thanksgiving, the Timberwolves needed to win at home against the Denver Nuggets. Although Brian Shaw’s team came in riding a three-game winning streak (to say nothing of the 57 games they won last season, before significant off-season shakeups) and had already beaten the Wolves once this year, it was a game that Minnesota needed to win if it wanted to continue the early-season positivity giving rise to expectations of an overdue playoff berth.

As you probably already know, the Wolves did not win. In what was possibly the worst defensive performance of the season the Wolves lost 117-110 on the Target Center floor against a team that they’ll almost definitely need to be better than, in order to crack the Top 8 of the Western Conference. In the game’s early stages, Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler made shots. Some were contested better than others. But as the game went on, the Wolves defense softened up considerably, allowing a mixed bag of wide open threes and wide open layups and dunks. Denver ended the game 8 for 16 from downtown. In the fourth quarter, they didn’t have to rely on threes as they managed to get to the rim almost at will. Three consecutive crunchtime possessions ended with Denver dunks.

After the game, Adelman lamented the surprisingly-poor effort:

“I was just really disappointed with our effort — the first half especially. We just, defensively, we allowed them to do whatever they wanted to do. Everything we had on the board, they did. We gotta figure out what we’re gonna do from this point forward because you can’t defend like that. We can’t have the energy coming into a home game like that.”

“We were so passive. We have to get more aggressively physical if we’re gonna play in this league.”

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Sunday Post: Weekend Split, Superstars Injured & How Opponents are (and are not) Scoring

Weekend Split: A Friday Win & Saturday Loss

The Timberwolves won on Friday against the Nets and lost on Saturday against the Rockets, continuing an early season trend of winning at home and losing on the road. (The Wolves are currently 6-2 at home and 2-5 on the road.) The weekend split also reinforced a growing body of evidence suggesting that the Wolves will end the season very close to the cut line of Western Conference Playoffs inclusion. As things stand, the Grizzlies are 8th in the West; the Wolves 9th.

Friday’s game seems like a great win because the Wolves won by 30 points against a team that had Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson and Kevin Garnett playing. But it wasn’t a great win as much as it was a terrible loss by the Nets who turned in such an embarrassingly unprofessional effort. Any of the league’s other 28 teams would’ve defeated Brooklyn on Friday.

Saturday’s game seems like a bad loss because Houston was without superstar guard James Harden, yet controlled the game from start to finish. There weren’t many moments when a Wolves win seemed likely, if even possible. But it wasn’t a bad loss as much as a combination of a “schedule loss” (The Rockets were at home and hadn’t played since Wednesday. The Wolves played Friday and obviously had to travel.) and an unlucky night to play against reserve guard, Aaron Brooks. He had barely seen the floor this season, but the Harden injury gave him a rare chance. Brooks made the most of it with 26 points in 25 minutes. He was 6-7 from downtown. If Brooks plays his usual game — whatever that is exactly — the Rockets may still have won, but the game would have been competitive.

Friday Injuries

Panic spread around the NBA world on Friday night when three marquee players went down with scary injuries. In a matter of minutes, my Twitter feed announced a(nother) possible ACL tear for former MVP Derrick Rose, a non-contact knee injury for Defense Player of the Year Marc Gasol, and a hamstring injury “with a pop sound” to Warriors linchpin Andre Iguodala. If every injury realized its worst-case potential, the 2013-14 season would be damaged beyond comprehension. In the case of Rose and Gasol, they are unquestionably the best players on their teams that are gunning for a title in pure “win now” mode. Iggy is new to the Warriors, but his defensive chops and impeccable fit with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have given the Dubs a title-contending look that doubles as the league’s most watchable brand of ball.

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Media Day Takeaway: The Love & Adelman Edition

kevlaaarrr

For better or worse I went into my first media day without much of a plan, beyond “take an extra hour for lunch.”  I wasn’t sure exactly where to go. (Thanks Darren Wolfson for pointing me toward the press room.) Or how to act as a newbie in a room stock full of veteran sports reporters. (Thanks Britt Robson for the pointers.)  I had no questions prepared.  (So I didn’t ask any!)

But despite my naivete on the logistics and intramedia etiquette, I felt I had a pretty good idea of what to expect in terms of interview answers from the players and the coach.  I’ve read enough newspapers and watched enough SportsCenter to know that media day is not usually the time for candor or nuance when discussing a season on the immediate horizon.

Against this backdrop of low expectations, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised.  Sid Hartman asked Coach Adelman for a starting five; a notoriously skirted question for a team about to break for camp.  Adelman listed Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic as four locks.  After some hemming and hawing, he confirmed what many of us already suspect: Corey Brewer will probably be the starting small forward.

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Goodbye to Bayno, Hello to [David] Adelman

It unfolded yesterday in a manner of minutes:

Then this:

Then these:

And just like that, Bill Bayno — perhaps PDW’s favorite Timberwolves employee — was gone to Canada, and a new bench to work from.

Some thoughts:

Obvious but Sincere

First things first: Congratulations go out to Bill Bayno on the career promotion to first assistant coach of an NBA franchise. If things go well for him in Toronto, as they already have in Portland and Minnesota, we will begin to see Bayno’s name floated in discussions of NBA head coaching hires. He’s clearly moving up in the ranks and this is another step.

Bayno Out, David Adelman In, Concerns of Nepotism

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Why Kevin Garnett should finish his career in Minnesota

After a more-than-week-long roller coaster of reports involving Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and the LA Clippers, it seems that a deal has finally been struck.  Rivers will coach the Clippers next season.  Assuming he isn’t fired or doesn’t force another trade (!) he’ll also coach the Clips for the two seasons after that.  The Celtics receive a first-round pick in 2015 and the financial relief of paying a cheaper coach to lead what looks to be a rebuilding team.

Perhaps more interesting is the part of the deal that has not — and probably will not — happen: Kevin Garnett won’t be joining his coach, as was originally hoped for and expected.  Howard Beck reported in Friday’s Times that David Stern was skeptical that the teams could arrange transactions including both coach and players that pass muster under the collective bargaining agreement.  Today, after the Rivers announcement, Paul Flannery reiterates that the league views the Rivers/KG situation as “either/or” for the Clippers, and that in light of today’s news, Garnett for DeAndre Jordan is off the table.  Flannery notes Garnett’s no-trade clause and finds it likely that KG will remain a Celtic.

In the internet spirit of KNEE-JERK REACTION I thought I’d pay a quick visit to espn.com — specifically, the Trade Machine — and come up with an unlikely plausible trade proposal that brings Garnett back home to Minneapolis, where he spent his prime seasons as the greatest ever Timberwolf.

Screen Shot 2013-06-23 at 6.24.22 PM

Why the Wolves do it:

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NBA DRAFT: What the Prospects Say

Trey Burke: Sewer Hero

Trey Burke: Sewer Hero

Co-authored by Andy G and Patrick J

DraftExpress just posted a bunch of interviews with top prospects who’re possible future Wolves at the NBA combine. Below, Andy and I react to each that was published today. Assuming more are to come–possibly to include Anthony Bennett–we’ll probably hit the wheel on this a second time for comparison’s sake. Full analysis below.

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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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A Quarter of the Fun (PELICANS 104, Wolves 92)

For one quarter of last night’s game, things were made impossibly easy for the Timberwolves.  I don’t know if the Pelicans Hornets players were sweating out last night’s Hurricanes or what, but they came out flat as a pancake and the Wolves took full advantage.  Behind a steady supply of steals, Pekovic power moves, and even a flashy dime from Ricky to Stiemer, Minnesota led by 15 points after the opening quarter.

And that’s about when the fun stopped.  Well, not quite, but close.  Derrick Williams, who checked in near the end of the first, opened the second quarter with three straight moves that looked much more like Carmelo Anthony than the inconsistent “caged lion” that we’ve come to question as a building block for the franchise.  Williams, playing out of that square-up, jab-step stance that the league’s premier 4′s attack from, began the second quarter with the following: 1) layup; 2) layup; and 3) layup and the foul.  I was excited.

THAT is when the fun stopped.

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HOW BOUT THEM T-WOLVES?!

HOW BOUT THEM COWBOYS?! T-WOLVES?!

Alexey Shved!  What a comeback!  I was at my wits’ end in that 3rd Quarter when the barrage of Brooklyn bombs rained down from three-point land and the Wolves couldn’t get a stop to save their life.  This bit of resignation sums it up best:

Let’s take it from the top…

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Game Recap: Clint Eastwood Edition (RAPTORS 105, Wolves 86)

Don’t worry, no Invisible Obama here.

The Good – Andrei Kirilenko

This was exactly the type of performance we hope to see from AK47.  The energetic Russian was all over the floor, putting together a vintage across-the-board stat line of 17 points (on 6-7 shooting) 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks and 1 steal.

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Over/Under

Beckley Mason piqued my interest with this tweet today:

The gamblers released their over/unders for win totals.  According to his tweet, they were hating on Golden State.  (That line has since moved to 35.5 wins — and maybe even more by the time you click on that link.)  Even though I too expect more of the Warriors than 35 wins, I was more interested in my own team, the Wolves.  They opened at 39.5 wins.  That moved up to 40.5 at the time I am writing this.  In other words, you’re going against Vegas to bet on the Wolves to finish .500.  Continue reading

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MACCABI HAIFA!

In the NFL Draft, they call it Mr. Irrelevant. In your Timberwolves Season Ticketholder draw, it’s the preseason game versus Maccabi Haifa.

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Looking at the Wolves Offense, Part I: Three-Point Shooting

Last year’s Timberwolves had a problematic pairing of statistics describing its three-point shooting prowess.  The first statistic is 21.6.  That’s the average number of three-point shots attempted by the Wolves in a game.  That’s kind of a lot; good for 6th most in the entire league.  It’s nearly double the number of treys attempted by playoff teams like the Jazz and Grizzlies.  Only one team (Orlando) shot considerably more treys per game than this.  The second statistic is 33.2.  That’s the Wolves’ three-point shooting percentage.  It isn’t very impressive; tied for 23rd in the league.  There are many reasons why three-point shooting is a necessary weapon for the Timberwolves.  One, Ricky Rubio excels at delivering awesome passes to open perimeter shooters.  Two, Pekovic is a load in the paint and should attract defenders down low, welcoming jump shots for his teammates.  And three, the Wolves are not a team with jaw-dropping athleticism that will consistently win games by slashing to the bucket.  In order to be an efficient offense, they’ll need to be somewhat prolific from downtown.  In Part I of a series on the Wolves Offense, I investigate the three-pointing shooting issue to see if things might look better in 2012-13.

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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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The Roy Reality

Expect more step-back jumpers and less poster dunks from B-Roy this year.

Brandon Roy gave an interview on NBATV where he discussed his new team and return from retirement.  You could write most of the transcript without watching the video (“I feel great, the situation seemed right, yada yada…) but Roy said one thing that stuck out as a candid bit of truth.  When discussing his current level of athleticism, Roy stated:

You know honestly, right now and all summer long, I’ve been preparing to not have to take a step back with my game.  I’ll be honest; some of the lift isn’t quite what it used to be, but I think my explosiveness to get to the basket has been just as good.  You know, more than anything I think I’m a lot smarter of a basketball player.  I understand that the NBA season is long and my body isn’t what it used to be.  But right now I feel great.  Me and Coach Adelman are gonna sit down before the season and communicate throughout the year about how I’m feeling and what’s the best way to get the most out of me. Continue reading

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INBOX: Whiteside Rumors

Hassan Whiteside

Andy G: There is some buzz that the Wolves are looking at and possibly pursuing an old draft-projection favorite of ours: the one and only HASSAN WHITESIDE!  According to Darren Wolfson’s recent post, it sounds like the Wolves haven’t foreclosed the possibility of bringing back Anthony Tolliver, but there may not be enough cap space to pull that off.  In the event of a VETERAN MINIMUM signing, Whiteside could be the guy.  I’ll need your thoughts on this one. Continue reading

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Russian Wrap

Since I decided to get up and watch our favorite new TWolves at 3:00 this morning, I might as well do a brief game wrap.  Russia handled the Chinese from start to finish in what was perhaps a more-impressive victory than the opener versus overmatched Great Britain.  While the stat lines of Alexey Shved and Andrei Kirilenko were a bit more modest than the first game, the players looked just as good and played as important of roles in another one-sided affair.  Continue reading

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