Minnesota Timberwolves 88, Denver Nuggets 111

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Denver NuggetsGame Recap:

I will keep this rather punctual, as there are only so many words you can say following a 23-point loss and a 21-38 record. Minnesota marched into their demise playing a Denver team that has one of the deepest rosters in the association. The Nuggets entered the game with a home win-loss total of 27-3, and outlasted the Timberwolves in the fourth-quarter as the Puppies fell 111-88.

The Timberwolves went with a starting lineup consisting of Rubio-Ridnour-Gelabale-Williams-Stiemsma against Lawson-Igoudala-Galinari-Faried-Koufos for Denver. Minnesota gave up legitimate size and athleticism to the playoff-bound Nuggets, and were far too undermanned against a tremendous team.

From the opening quarter, the Wolves obvious problems in transition defense were very evident, and they experienced a lot of trouble on their switches in transition D as Denver did a good job of pushing the ball down the court following a Timberwolves field goal. The George Karl-led group does a wonderful job of spacing the floor in the half-court offense, and move the ball laterally very effectively. One cannot comment enough on the deepness of this Denver team’s roster, and it is unfair to rag on the Wolves too much for their loss when considering how few healthy bodies they have. With so many injuries to core players, it is tough to be very demanding with this squad.

The Pups had their work cut out for them opposite of Ty Lawson. The former North Carolina star was having his way, gaining easy penetration and doing a nice job of finding open teammates on the perimeter. The fringe-All-Star was once drafted by the Timberwolves, but was later shipped off for a future first-round pick instead. It is interesting to imagine what might have happened had we held on to Lawson and avoided Jonny Flynn…

The Timberwolves actually kept it close in the second half and went into halftime trailing 50-49. Half time notes and musings:

  • Why does Greg Stiemsma shoot jump shots? Why doesn’t the coaching staff stop this? Even though he knocked down a couple, he is spending much less time right next to the hoop where he should be. He has taken on a much smaller role in defending the rim as of late.
  • Three of Denver’s core rotation players were once Timberwolves. When does accountability fall on Timberwolves front office and coaching staff for failing to develop or recognize ability? It is infuriating to casually watch so many ex-Timberwolves thriving in their new settings.
  • Derrick Williams is not looking to shoot open three-pointers. He is playing as if he aspires to be a common role player. One thing that caught my attention during the game was seeing the absolutely ripped Andre Igoudala next to Williams, who still has some baby fat to shed. It led to me thinking about how in order for Derrick to really be good with the skill set he has, he will need to be at a higher level of personal fitness and will need to log many hours in the weight room this summer.
  •  Andrei Kirilenko continues to be missing with injury, and it is no shock considering his elaborate history with a myriad of injuries. There is no point in AK-47 playing with nagging injuries as the team, to be brutally honest, is essentially playing for a high draft pick at this point in the season. Without their core players healthy, this team is going absolutely nowhere.

The Nuggets took advantage of their various mismatches in the third period and they continued to heat up from beyond the arc. JaVale McGee was straight ballin’ in the third quarter and entertained the viewers with a few very exciting alley-oops. JaVale, who is currently slated behind former Pup Kosta Koufos on the depth chart, greatly exemplifies just how much more talented and deep Denver is than Minnesota. You could even make the argument that Denver’s second unit of which contains Miller-Brewer-Chandler-JaVale contains more talent than the Wolves current starting five.

JJ Barea played well tonight and should get some attention for his good effort. Ricky Rubio, however, had a very tough time tonight. Rubio had a tough time making plays as his fellow shooters were very timid and were very hesitant on countless good setups from our Spanish point guard. Denver had a relatively easy time holding off the Pups, and they stretched their lead 83-70 heading into the final period.

The last shred of hope for the Pups came when they were able to cut the score 85-76 with 9:30 remaining in the game. However, not soon after the Nuggets quickly opened the game up in transition and from beyond the arc. Ty Lawson was feeling especially hot from long range, and scored a game-high 32 points. Once the game got out of hand, Denver came out smiling and won by a score of 111-88.

Keys of the Game:

Fast-break points —– Denver controlled the game in transition, and caught Timberwolves players napping on several occasions leading to fast-break slam dunks. Nuggets head coach Karl says that his current roster is the fastest roster he has ever had, and it was blatant all night long.

Steals —– Minnesota had 5 steals, while Denver grabbed an astonishing 13 steals. This allowed them to dominate in transition and put on a show for the sold out home arena.

Three Stars of the Game:

  1. Ty Lawson —– In 34 minutes, Lawson notched a ridiculous 32 points on 12-17 shooting. This included a perfect 4-4 from long distance, and he torched Luke Ridnour on many occassions.
  2. Corey Brewer —– Who else besides another Timberwolf? The Brew-Crew was great last night scoring 15 points on 7-13 shooting in 25 minutes off of the bench. Brewer has found a home and a team that trusts him in Denver, and it is very nice to see.
  3. Andre Igoudala —– Igouldala has looked much more comfortable in the Denver offense since his rocky start to the season, and is amazing in that he does a little bit of everything night-in and night-out. Iggy finished with the line of 10 points-5 rebounds-4 steals-3 assists-3 blocks in 32 minutes.