Monthly Archives: December 2013

WOLVES LOSE HEARTBREAKER: The Emotional Investment Edition

Being emotionally fragile is an important part of being a successful critic; it’s an integral element to being engaged with mainstream art, assuming you aspire to write about it in public.  If you hate everything, you’re a banal asshole . . . but if you don’t hate anything, you’re boring.  You’re useless.  And you end up writing about why you can no longer generate fake feelings that other people digest as real.

–Chuck Klosterman, I Wear the Black Hat

Friday’s loss generated hate. Tonight’s generated shock. Hopefully the next game — Friday versus the Wizards at Target Center — will generate joy. Whatever happens, I’ll continue to try to be objective with the analysis and subjective with the emotional reaction. But sometimes they blend together and sometimes that’s for the best.

Kevin Love scored 45 points tonight. Nikola Pekovic scored 34. The Wolves led by 5 with 26 seconds left, but managed to lose the game. Leading by 2 and only needing to cleanly inbound the ball and successfully possess it until being fouled, Kevin Martin coughed it up. The game went to overtime and Chris Paul was a little too good to be given a second breath of life.

Rick Adelman was too upset to speak with the media. Kevin Love was not impressed by the questions he received from local media while he sat at his locker. Everyone is pissed. As they should be.

It’s a long season. I’ll overreact to a good Robbie Hummel or Gorgui Dieng performance just as often as I’ll describe a sky falling on the green Target Center rooftop. Sometimes that’s part of why I do this. Sometimes it’s the only reason why I do it.

But I won’t ignore the bad things as if they have no meaning. They obviously do. Tonight’s loss, removed from the context of how it occurred, isn’t so bad. The Clippers are a great team. They were the home team. But in the flow of that game, with Matt Barnes being ejected and Love and Pek playing their best game ever as a duo? It really sucks. Why else would Adelman storm out of the presser before it begins?

It doesn’t mean the team will miss the playoffs or even lose the next game. But it means something. And it obviously isn’t something good.

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Timberwolves at Clippers (The Getaway Day Edition)

The Wolves take on CP3, Blake, and MATT BARNES (!) tonight in LaLa.

The Wolves take on CP3, Blake, and MATT BARNES (!) tonight in LaLa.

Howdy, Wolves fans. Tonight’s game is in LA, at the Clip Joint, against CP3 and the Gang. Tip is at 9:30 CST. The Wolves will fly back to Mpls after the game.

It’s also getaway day for Patrick J, who’s leaving for PIT in a few minutes for a flight to MSP via ORD. (Eds. Note: Yes, he’s expecting the usual delay at O’Hare. He cannot recall having a single flight from that airport leave on-time in the 4+ years he lived in Chicago.)

So I’m going to leave you with a bit of crossover eye candy, courtesy of tonight’s opponent, @oneandonlycp3. (Eds. Note: Why did Paul abandon that Twitter handle? It was one of coolest in the League.)

Part I

Take a deep breath. A short intermission. Grab some eggnog, and feast on some more tasty CP3 crossovers in Part II.

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We are who we are. (LAKERS 104, Wolves 91)

Los Angeles Lakers Practice, NBA Europe Live

Pau Gasol got the best of his friend and fellow Spaniard in last night’s game at Staples Center.

The Timberwolves lost, last night. They lost to the Lakers. L.A., as you probably already know, is without veterans Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, and even Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar. In their stead are Nick Young (The Swaggy Point Guard Edition!), Xavier Henry, and former Timberwolf, Wesley Johnson. It seemed like a game that the Wolves should win easily. But they didn’t.

Corey Brewer missed all 8 of his shot attempts. Alexey Shved made just 1 of his 7. Ricky Rubio and J.J. Barea were the best backcourt scorers last night, shooting a combined 6 for 17. Kevin Love was awesome and Nikola Pekovic was okay. Kevin Martin was mediocre. Playing 2.5 on 5 isn’t going to cut it. Despite a slew of Laker turnovers in the middle of the game, the Wolves played down to their competition and allowed the outcome to be determined by late-game, Pau Gasol hero ball. Some difficult shots went down and that was that.

Over at Canis Hoopus, Eric in Madison captured the sentiment of Wolves fans everywhere. It was a terrible loss that highlighted the team’s primary weaknesses of poor shooting and an inability to contain opposing scorers. (The Wolves currently have the league’s fourth-worst field goal percentage, and the league’s worst opponent field goal percentage. That seems like a bad combination, doesn’t it?)

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SportVu Stat Of The Day

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 6.22.14 AM

3.2

That is the number of points per game scored by J.J. Barea on drives to the basket.

It’s the most on the Timberwolves team and ranks just 40th out of all players in the entire league.

Second most on the Wolves? Ricky Rubio with 2.4, which ranks 64th.

The Wolves don’t score much off of dribble penetration.

For some perspective, Monta Ellis leads the league with 8.0 drive ppg. Tony Parker is second with 6.6.

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20 things I love about that game

1. The Bruise Brothers putting up a 59 & 24. Total domination.
2. Ricky Rubio making an impact with his defense — contrary to this:

Rubio is actually a very good, probably “great” defender. It was obvious once again tonight and helped lead the Wolves to a win.
3. Alexey Shved playing like November & December 2012 Alexey Shved. He had a little extra bounce in his step and made a positive impact. Shved had 4 points and 3 assists in just 6 minutes of +11 ball. He’s played a little bit better of late.
4. Rubio being so much better on defense than Lillard. Obviously, Ricky’s shooting is a problem and Dame is playing at a higher overall level than him this season. But MANNNNNN, Lillard’s a bad defender. His only hope is to clutch and grab. Luckily for him tonight, Bennett Salvatore had money on the second-half spread let a lot of contact go, so he didn’t get burned as badly as he should’ve.
5. Kevin Love nearly getting a triple double (29/15/9) but not quite getting one. It’ll keep him hungry. You could see him gunning for that final assist in the last few minutes (he barked at Ricky for passing up a trey attempt on a would-be-tenth assist). He played an unbelievable game.
6. The 2nd Quarter lineup that blew the game open and stretched the lead to 30. Cunningham and Mbah a Moute ended up with +/-‘s of +24 and +23, respectively.
7. Wes Matthews shooting 2-9 from downtown. I hate Wes Matthews. So should you. He kills the Wolves. But not on this night.
8. Pek having his hook shot going. When he does, he’s completely unstoppable.
9. High-lows from Love to Pek, and from Pek to Love. We saw both tonight.
10. Watching Lillard On Fire Code. Guy can light it up from 26+ feet off the dribble.
11. Watching Lillard (finally) get called for some overdue hand-check calls. He’s not as likeable as he could be. Bad defender who bitches about more-than-legit foul calls.
12. That Alexey misdirection, “I’m just gonna pull this out rather than force a fast break” alley-oop setup to Dante.
13. Robin Lopez shooting 0 times in 25 minutes. That’s kind of funny.
14. Rick Adelman acknowledging what’s obviously true even if it doesn’t affect his overall decision-making:

(Gorgui didn’t play tonight.)
15. The fact that Robbie Hummel will remain ready to play, even though he also didn’t get in the game tonight. (Hummel was practically putting himself through a rigorous shootaround at halftime, when most guys are joking around and loosening up.)
16. Kevin Martin’s 22 points on 15 shots, after his slump, one game off, and the inevitable concerns that an aging guard with an injury history was breaking down.
17. This:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTZxkaXn9iU&feature=youtu.be

18. Corey Brewer intercepting a long pass to ice the win.
19. The Wolves getting back to .500.
20. Beating the Blazers. If the Wolves have a “rival” in the past decade of league-wide irrelevance, it’s Portland. Not because it’s a close head-to-head record (it’s not) but because of Brandon Roy. Martell Webster’s back. Neil Olshey being a d-bag. David Kahn also being a d-bag. Nic Batum’s Kahntract. LMA versus Love. Blazers Edge versus Canis Hoopus. We make our own rivalries and this is the best we got. I hate watching Portland rain threes at Target Center, like they did last year when they didn’t even have a good team. Every win over Portland is a good win. Let’s enjoy it.

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Wolves vs. Blazers: Can Vengeance Be Ours?

Two of the NBA's best power forwards, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love, square off tonight at Target Center (Photo credit: NBA.com)

Two of the NBA’s best power forwards, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love, square off tonight at Target Center (Photo credit: NBA.com)

The Wolves take on the Portland Trailblazers tonight in Minneapolis. Tip is at 7 P.M. CST. You can watch live on FSN or League Pass, or listen on WCCO 830.

The Blazers have the best record in the NBA at 22-4. They have the best road record in the NBA at 12-2. They’re on a five game winning streak, and they’ve won 9 of their last 10.

In short, the Wolves have their work cut out for them tonight.

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Lowe on 3s & Uniform Strategy

In this view, the game is tilting toward uniformity, in both team strategy and the types of players each team will seek to execute that strategy.

That comes from Zach Lowe’s excellent piece (sorry, no need to be redundant) about the modern, analytics-inspired NBA trend of more three-point shooting. Lowe focuses on most of the key issues and gets enlightening quotes from authorities such as Jeff Van Gundy, Rod Thorn, and Shane Battier.

While fully appreciating how annoying it is when bloggers copy and paste URLs in an “I was already writing about this” sort of way, I’m going to use the Lowe piece as a launch pad to copy and paste some URLs in an “I was already writing about this” sort of way.

My focus is usually geared toward the declining relevance of low-post offense and the “uniformity” point advanced by Lowe (and apparently rejected — so far — by league officials as an important consideration) that so much copy-cat’ing (in this case, jacking tons of threes, particularly from the corners) might be bad for basketball.

Without further ado:

This one from 1/19/12 was my original piece that called for narrowing the lane as compensation to centers for the hand-check rules that made pick-and-roll so comparatively better an option for offenses.

This one from 10/24/12 calls for basically the same thing, with added emphasis on the point that by freeing up low-post play the league would introduce an additional avenue to success. Why not give more teams, built around a greater number of available helpful players, a chance?

This one from 1/18/13 — specifically, #14 — addresses an issue raised by Lowe: Isn’t it weird that the corner three is shorter than the above-the-break three?

This one from 2/9/13 is an appreciation of Carmelo Anthony’s awesomeness and how his throwback iso game runs counter to modern developments. It also calls for abolishing zone defense restrictions, along with narrowing the lane.

And this one from 8/24/13 focuses on SportsVu camera technology and the possibility that it will further regiment offensive strategy.

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by | December 17, 2013 · 12:15 PM