Cause For Alarm (SPURS 106, Wolves 88)

We can live with Tony Parker’s 20 points and 6 assists.  Manu Ginobili’s 12 points and 5 dimes.  Timmy’s 12, 9 and 5.  Hell, even his 3 steals and 7 blocks.  But the problem with tonight’s game was that Manu only played 12 minutes because of a pulled hamstring shortly before halftime, and with the Spurs shorthanded, Parker and Duncan were both able to be limited to 29 minutes of action.

That’s because, after Parker and Duncan went to the bench for a rest at the end of the 3rd Quarter (Spurs leading by 7), the Wolves got thumped by San Antonio’s short-handed second unit.  The three-headed monster of Gary Neal, Stephen Jackson and Tiago Splitter led a dominant 4th Quarter that the Spurs won 28-17.  Parker and Duncan iced their knees on the sidelines (just as we feared might happen), this time without Gregg Popovich’s company.  Pop drew a quick double-tech and was sent to the showers with his team leading by 13 early in the fourth.  Maybe he had dinner plans and wanted to beat traffic.  Who knows.  In any case, the Spurs won by 18 and dominated long stretches of this game.  A few things that should give fans cause for alarm:

* Alexey Shved is losing his shooting touch.  He went 0 for 7 tonight, just four games after his 1 for 11 stinker against Portland.  His field goal percentage dropped to 38.7 after tonight’s game.  If the Wolves are going to entertain the idea of a .500 record (let alone a playoff appearance) he needs to provide consistent shooting.  We know that it isn’t coming from Ricky Rubio, and probably not Andrei Kirilenko either.  The team lacks shooters something fierce and Shved needs to be one.

* Derrick Williams continues to miss shots at the rim.  He was 3-9 from the floor tonight, and at least a couple of those were of the point-blank miss variety.  He had a huge dunk in the first half that got Twitter buzzing a little bit, but until he can make layups at the rate far-less-athletic Andrei Kirilenko can, D-Thrill will have his minutes cut.  He only played 24 tonight.  This is in Kevin Love’s absence.  Think about that.

* Speaking of missing shots, Ricky Rubio is doing that.  A lot of that.  He’s now shooting 18 percent from the floor.  (!!!)  (!!!)  (!!!)  I’m not sure what else to say.  Ricky’s brilliance has nothing to do with shooting, but he can’t shoot 18 percent and expect to make a positive impact.  Not with any sort of consistency.  Ricky was a game-worst -24 tonight.  He missed all 6 of his field goal attempts.

* There is a cliff that the Wolves fall off of when Nikola Pekovic checks out of the game, and Greg Stiemsma checks in.  Against Oklahoma City, the Wolves were a -3 with Pek on the floor; essentially playing the Thunder to even basketball.  When Stiemer was on the floor for just 13 minutes, they were a -12.  Tonight, against another Western Conference Finalist, the Wolves were again -3 with Pek.  This time, they were -15 with Stiemer in 19 minutes of action.  I don’t know if Pekovic is being bothered by an injury, or why his minutes are somewhat limited, but the team suffers when he’s off the floor and Stiemsma is on it.

That’s it for tonight.  Rough loss, and a game the Wolves could have stolen after the Ginobili injury in the 2nd Quarter.  Tomorrow’s opponent is weaker than tonight’s, but they have Dirk back in the lineup and just blew out a strong Memphis Grizzlies game, so the Mavs are no picnic.  Until then.

Season Record: 16-18



Filed under Timberwolves

8 responses to “Cause For Alarm (SPURS 106, Wolves 88)

  1. Nathan Anderson

    18 percent! wow. that’s awful. Hopefully by February he’ll resemble last season’s Rubio and shoot at least 30 percent.

    When stopped and under the basket, Williams goes up weaker and jumps no higher than Kevin Love. This from the guy who people refer to as some kind of athletic freak. It’s just not the case.

    Williams is going to need to be crafty to succeed, because he does not have the athletic ability to be powerful inside. And can he please stop showing the ball so damn early when he has it on the break? Petersen brought this up the other night and it’s really glaring. Seems like something that is easy to fix. But old habits die hard.

    • I think your takeaway – Williams isn’t going up strong – is right, but I disagree a bit with the prognosis. My memory is that last year, after Williams realized he wasn’t going to have as easy a time in the NBA as he had at Arizona – he began taking it up *incredibly* strong, looking for dunks or fouls. Too often, he’d end up getting his shot blocked, often after drawing Kahntact and not getting a whistle as a result of the rookie treatment from the NBA’s superb stable of top-notch refs. It seems like this has led Williams to try to avoid Kahntact, in order to be able to get his shot off. But that leads to all kinds of contortions and extremely difficult shots from inside of three feet. But I think Williams has, and always had the jumps and the body to thrive inside. What he lacks are the mental faculties to slow the game down, use pump fakes effectively, and either score a high percentage layup or get fouled in attempting one. After *really* struggling with this as a rookie, Kevin Love has gotten extremely good at it. I don’t know that this transfers to D-Will – it doesn’t so far, we know that – but I do think he’s got the explosiveness to exploit the Amare-like offensive repertoire that Andy has referred to again and again. If I were Bayno & co, that would be my singular focus with regard to Williams right now. They need scoring punch from the 4 with Love out.

      Also (and unrelated to Williams), is it just me, or is Terry Porter confirming everyone’s hypothesis that he isn’t a good NBA coach? I hate to bag on individuals whom I respect in many ways, but I wish they would’ve exploited Adelman’s absence – assuming they expect it to be relatively brief – to see what someone with promise, but less experience, would do when given the reins. Sikma, and then Bayno, would have been my top two choices, in that order.

      • Nathan Anderson

        I have never seen Williams dunk from a standstill in traffic. Amare did that all day long, as does Griffin. Williams cannot do it. He can jump really high when he has a running start.

        So, I agree that he can get better and take it up stronger, but I think he has real physical limitations finishing inside (not unlike Love).

        • Fair point. I don’t know if it’s because 1) I’ve missed seeing him do so; 2) He hasn’t done so because he can’t/won’t; 3) He doesn’t do so because of factors that can be fixed (such as, he has weak hands/forearms, and gets stripped if he attempts dunks from a stationary position). #3 is regrettable, but potentially fixable; #2 is more of a Doomsday picture.

  2. It’s kind of mentally draining watching the Wolves shoot so poorly. I’m not sure that I’ve ever in my NBA-watching life (20+ years) seen a guard with a shot as ugly as Ricky’s. Another guard whom I love and who has a fugly jumper, Rajon Rondo, isn’t even in the same stratosphere as Rubio. Can’t they rent him some Dick Vitale videos or some shit?*

    *Above the Rim quote (If you don’t know, now you know.)

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