1. Is Gorgui Dieng an exaggerated plus on defense, and exaggerated minus on offense?
After learning the nature and extent of the Pekovic injury, I wrote a little bit about Gorgui Dieng. Specifically, I wrote about the question marks surrounding the Timberwolves offense when Gorgui takes the floor, and also the fact that he blocks a lot of shots and crashes the boards.
Well, in 6.4 meaningful minutes against the New Orleans Pelicans, he continued his reputation. With Gorgui on the floor, the defense was really good and the offense was really bad. In a game like tomorrow’s versus Memphis, maybe he will fit right in?
I wonder how Adelman feels about muddying the game up in the paint and trying to win in the low 90s. Gorgui seems like a one-way player in the extreme sense.
2. Now that he’s finally playing well, why is Alexey Shved removed from the rotation?
All-Star reserves are announced tonight on TNT.
The Timberwolves made a super funny video to promote Nikola Pekovic, a candidate for one of the slots.
They get extra points for including some Punch-Drunk Wolves art at the 0:25 mark.
Great stuff, and good luck to Pek.
Just a quick note about the unfortunate news that Nikola Pekovic has right ankle bursitis and will miss at least 7 to 10 days before he is re-evaluated. (Given the nature of this injury — apparently a gradual onset of symptoms rather than a simple sprain — he’ll probably be out at least a couple of weeks.)
Pek will obviously be missed. Continue reading
That was an unusual Timberwolves game.
They won, but that’s not the weird part. It happens half the time, after all. The strange thing about tonight’s win over the Chicago Bulls was how the Wolves won.
They scored 95 points, which doesn’t seem so odd until you consider that the Wolves average 114.1 points per game in wins (a stat that includes tonight’s game bringing it down). They won by 9, which is just a titch more than half of their average victory margin of 17.0 (again, including this game). The Wolves are one of the league’s best offensive rebounding and second-chance points teams, but tonight they pulled down only 5 boards on their own end.
Most importantly, the game’s outcome seemed to turn when the Wolves upped their defensive intensity.
That never happens.
Let’s quickly rewind to the beginning of the game.
It is Nikola Pekovic’s job – it’s his vocation – to wipe smiles like Joakim Noah’s from opposing centers’ faces.
Following a disappointing loss in Portland on Saturday evening, the Wolves (21-22) continue their four-game road trip tonight in Chicago (22-21). Tip is at 7:00 P.M. CST. The game can be seen on NBATV and heard on WCCO 830.
Derrick Rose won’t be walking through that door. (Eds. Note: He might limp to that bench, I’m not sure. Key thing is, he isn’t playing tonight or for a long time.) Neither will Luol Deng, or even Kirk Hinrich.
But beating the Bulls tonight will require the Wolves to play top-level basketball. The Wolves haven’t beaten the Bulls in a very long time. Last season, Chicago swept the season series against the Wolves for the fourth straight year. They’ve now won seven straight against Minnesota.
And despite being decimated by injuries, the Bulls are perhaps the NBA’s hottest team that no one really cares about.
The Bulls are tied for the League lead in January wins so far, going 10-3 in 2014. They’re 8-3 since trading Luol Deng earlier this month in what appeared a clear towel-throwing move.
But the Bulls keep winning. Because Tom Thibodeau.
Remember when I said Derrick Rose, Lu Deng, and Kirk Hinrich won’t be walking through that door? That doesn’t matter. Thibs keeps the engine running on overdrive no matter what lineup he can put on the floor.
A few things stand out for tonight’s game.
Wolves fans will get their first look at Blazers rookie C.J. McCollum in tonight’s game at Portland.
Tonight the Wolves face the Portland Trailblazers in the City of Roses. Tip is at 9:00 P.M CST. You can see it on NBATV.
It’s set to be a *very* interesting game. Find out why below the fold.
There was a game a couple of years ago against the Spurs. It was at home. It was early in the lockout-shortened season on a Friday night. I remember watching it at a sports bar after work, with some friends. We were excited about Ricky Rubio. He was just a rookie and the most popular new player in the league. The Wolves began the season surprisingly competitive, playing almost-.500 ball that stood in stark contrast to the seasons of losing that we had grown accustomed to. But it was too early, and there were too many question marks to know if it was just a lucky start, or whether these winning ways had actual lasting power.
And a strange thing happened.
The Timberwolves won.
They beat the Spurs.
It wasn’t a fluke or anything. And that was the weird part. The Wolves just played well and — for one night — looked like a better team than the world-class San Antonio Spurs.
Fans of other teams — normal teams — wouldn’t understand. The Wolves don’t do that. Not when KG doesn’t play, anyway. Sure, they might beat a good team every now and then, but they never look like the better team. It never feels that legitimate.
It never feels that good.
I was thinking about that game yesterday afternoon, and how it probably marks the highest point of confidence I’ve had in the Timberwolves since Kevin Garnett was traded. Last season’s Thursday TNT win over the Thunder was great, but something about having Ricky Rubio hobbling off the bench made it seem a little bit less meaningful. When Rubio and Kevin Love led their new team to a win over Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, it felt like an arrival; the beginning of something incredible.
My thought was that a road win over the Warriors — a team that some smart people consider a title contender — might evoke feelings similar to the ones that followed that Spurs victory; a moment that feels like an eternity ago when you think about everything that’s happened since: