Minnesota Timberwolves 87 – Charlotte Bobcats 89

When your active lineup for a game only consists of 60% of your season opener’s lineup, it probably isn’t a good thing, right?  The injuries have been well documented for our Pups and there was no relief in sight at the start of Wednesday’s game.  Barea, Roy, and Pekovic all sat out, leaving only nine men available for Adelman to work with.  As hinted at in the preview, Ben Gordon did not travel with the Bobcats and Hakim Warrick isn’t expected to make his debut for the team until the weekend.

However, no one could have expected how poorly the Pups shot the ball tonight.  The team finished the game 31-81 (38%) from the field, 5-19 (26%) from beyond the arc, and a woeful 20-37 (54%) from the FT line.  You simply aren’t going to win many games in the NBA with that type of performance.  It was a gutsy effort from the team, but they shot (pun alert) themselves in the foot too many times.

The Wolves starting lineup consisted of Ridnour, Lee, AK47, Williams, and Stiemsma.  The Bobcats opened up with Jeff Taylor, Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Byron Mullens, and Brandan Haywood.  Again, the Bobcats have a pretty nice rotation of guards and SF’s.  However, their big men leave a lot to be desired … or so I thought.  Their big men played strong defensive games, including 12 blocked shots.

The start of the game was not very pretty.  The Wolves went almost four minutes without scoring a basket.  Derrick Williams looked very active, but he also managed to blow two dunk attempts.  Going into the first timeout, the Bobcats held a 15-10 advantage, with the Pups missing a lot of shots in close and shooting 33% overall (4-12).

At the end of the 1st quarter, the Bobcats held a 28-24 lead.  This was preceded with an entertaining final 30 seconds of the quarter, with blocks on both end of the floor and AK47 hitting a three pointer as the buzzer sounded.  Giving up 28 points to the Bobcats in the quarter isn’t exactly how the coach drew things up in the locker room before the game.  The Wolves continued the poor shooting through the quarter, finishing at 36% (8-22) and missing 5 FT’s.  AK47 was the clear MVP of the quarter, leading the team with 10 points and 3 rebounds, and managed to draw two fouls on MKG.

Charlotte got off to a quick start in the 2nd quarter, increasing the lead to 10 points going into the first TO of the quarter.  The Pups couldn’t buy a shot and quite honestly, didn’t have much scoring on the floor.  Given DWill’s performance in the 1st quarter, Adelman went with Lou Amundson early.  Unfortunately, that left very little offensive talent on the floor for the team.

For the remainder of the quarter, the Bobcats lead floated between 10 and 15 points.  At the half, the Bobcats led 51-38, outscoring the Pups 23-14 in the 2nd quarter.  In other words, these were not good times for Wolves fans.  Here are several observations from the 1st half through my Wolves lens:

  • The Pups shooting was awful from anywhere and everywhere.  14-43 (33%) from the field, including 1-9 (11%) from three point range, to go with 9-16 (56%) from the FT line.
  • I mentioned that DWill needed to have a big game.  Unfortunately, he heavily contributed to the awful shooting.  He was equally deficient on the defensive end and Adelman gave him a quick hook in the 2nd quarter.  His days on this team are numbered.
  • Other specific Pups’ struggles include Malcolm Lee shooting 1-7 from the field and a -12 in +/- for the half, while Stiemsma continued to struggle to provide any offense at all.

The same starting five for both teams opened up the 3rd quarter of the game.  By halfway through the quarter, the Wolves were able to cut the lead to 7 points, but were still struggling to make shots.  Both Lee and Ridnour missed wide open three pointers and either one of them really would have gotten the crowd going.  Stiemsma continued to struggle on the floor, turning the ball over several times and looking downright lethargic at times.

The 3rd quarter mercifully ended with the Bobcats closing it on a 12-3 run, taking a 69-53 lead into the 4th.  The teams combined for 33 points in the quarter and sent NBA basketball back about three decades.  Bill James was likely spinning in his grave.  The only Pup displaying any semblance of a strong performance through three quarters was AK47, leading both teams with 19 and 9.

If the 3rd quarter was the worst quarter of basketball for the Wolves of the season, the 4th quarter was probably the second best of the year, falling short in comparison to the Nets game.  After being down 16 points, the Wolves chipped away at the Bobcats throughout the quarter and cut it to a 1 point lead with just under forty seconds to play.

Sadly, the last minute reverted back to some bad basketball.  Here’s a recap of the sequence:

  • Reggie Williams calls a TO but the Bobcats don’t have one
  • Ridnour makes the FT
  • Shved turns the ball over near half court
  • Cunningham blocks the layup attempt but fouls Sessions
  • Sessions misses both FT’s
  • Shved misses a jumper
  • Tyrus Thomas travels on the rebound but refs just call him out of bounds (?)
  • DWill gets fouled off the inbounds play and only makes one of two to tie the game

Then the dagger came down, as Kemba Walker hit a jumper to give the Bobcats a two point lead with 0.7 seconds left in the game.  Without a timeout, Ridnour takes the pass and tries the heave at the buzzer to no avail.  The Wolves lost this game at the charity stripe, finishing the game a morbid 20 for 37.  Newsflash, that isn’t very good.  As mentioned in the preview, despite the shorthanded lineup, this was a game that was right there for the taking and could/should have been won.  These games happen, but you hate to see it on your home floor and to an inferior opponent.

As suggested in the comments at halftime, you can start the countdown for Derrick Williams’ time left in Minnesota.  Adelman had no interest in using him in the middle of the game, instead choosing to go with Lou Amundson for an equal amount of playing time.  It is almost like Adelman is just begging Kahn to take notice of this during the game and to get something done sooner than later.

In any case, the loss drops the Pups to 5-3 on the season.  Their next game is Friday night vs. Golden State.

Three Stars of the Game:

  1. Kemba Walker
  2. Andrei Kirilenko
  3. Byron Mullens (what?!)