Minnesota Timberwolves 101, Washington Wizards 114

Wall blocking RickyGame Summary

The 17-22 Timberwolves travelled east to take on the 9-31 Washington Wizards on Friday night.  Hope everyone set their DVR’s.  The Pups opened up with Rubio, Ridnour, Kirilenko, Williams, and Stiemsma.  The Wizards countered with John Wall, Bradley Beal, Martell Webster, Nene Hilario, and Emeka Okafor.  Wall was making his first start of the season in his eighth game of the year, as if the Wolves have not been pummeled enough by opposing PG’s.

The early minutes of the game was played at warp speed.  However, it was also terribly sloppy.  Going into the first timeout, the Wizards held a 17-9 lead.  Washington was 7-9 from the field but had three turnovers.  The Wolves were only 4-12 from the field and matched the Wizards three turnovers.

Despite struggling mightily from the field for much of the quarter and falling down by as many as eleven, the Wolves closed the quarter on a 9-2 run.  Jordan Crawford hit a floater at the buzzer to give the Wizards a 29-25 lead at the end of the 1st quarter.  Going back to Wednesday night’s game, it would be nice to see the Wolves execute in the closing seconds of any quarter.

The second quarter was full of mini-runs by both teams and the Pups drew the short straw when all was said and done.  After building their lead to nine, the Wizards allowed the Wolves to cut it back to a two possession game.  Then, both teams set NBA basketball back about thirty years with some awful play in the middle of the quarter.  As soon as that train of thought started popping into my mind, the Wizards went on a nice run to close out the quarter.

After one half of basketball, the Wolves trailed by 14 points, 60-46.  When would you like me to mention how the Wolves performed to close out the quarter?  Right here (it was awful) or through my Wolves lens and halftime thoughts …

  • At halftime, it had been at least six quarters since the Pups closed out a quarter well
  • The only reason the Wolves weren’t losing by 20 or more points is because of how well they were rebounding the ball on the offensive end, holding a 13-3 advantage over the Wolves
  • The coaching staff needs to rein Dante Cunningham’s jumper in a bit – 16 feet and in until he gets things going again (1-6 from the field in the first half)
  • FG and FT shooting are killing the Pups right now.  But other than that …

In the interest of not looking like a maniac, let’s agree that the second half was atrocious and just move on, fair?  The Wolves didn’t do anything right in the half, with Terry Porter leading the charge and just about every member of the roster following suit.  Derrick Williams finished the game with a double-double (18 & 11) but it felt completely irrelevant.  Luke Ridnour had a nice game shooting but he probably gave up double that on the other end of the court.  The Pups ten day contractors continued to put up positive results, but I’m not sure if this is actually a good thing or bad thing at this point.

Outside of rebounding the ball on both ends, the Wolves did virtually nothing well on Friday night.  The Wolves shot 44% from the field, while their defense, or lack thereof, aided in the Wizards shooting a lights out 58%.  As an added bonus, the Wolves missed thirteen (?!) free throws Friday night, going 20-33 from the “charity” line.

To complete the trifecta, the Wolves were 3-14 from 3PT range again tonight and there might be a need to ban three point shooting tomorrow night in Charlotte.  I wish I were joking, but if I were coaching this team I would consider fining anyone that shoots a three pointer tomorrow night.  The team really needs to focus on an inside out game even if their post players don’t fit the bill.

The Wizards go to ten wins on the season, beating the Pups 114-101 and it didn’t really feel like that close of a game at all in the second half.  The loss is the Wolves third in a row and eighth in their last nine.  Thankfully, Big Al is covering Saturday night’s game in Charlotte …

Keys of the Game

  • FT Shooting – I’m not sure I’ve done a recap where this hasn’t been a problem for the Wolves.  The cynic in me would point out that if the Wolves were perfect from the line, the game would have been tied and gone into OT.  I’m not that ridiculous though.
  • Energy – This might sound a little ridiculous, but the difference in energy levels and body language was very telling.  This Wolves team is obviously struggling and it is starting to show all over the place.

Three Stars of the Game

  1. Bradley Beal – 16 points and a game high+24 in the box score, but more impressive was the 4 blocked shots, including one on a Wolves fast break that was probably the play of the game
  2. John Wall – Wall only played 20 minutes but he broke down defenders consistently and hit what became open jumpers.  Breaking: John Wall is good.
  3. Chris Johnson – Struggling to find a third star, so I want to give kudos to Chris Johnson, who put up 9 & 5 in a little over 20 minutes.  What I want to commend him for is banging in the paint and being some type of “presence” for the team.  Doogie sent out the note below that should be of interest to Pups fans …