Timberwolves Summer League Game 1 Recap

Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng prepare for Summer League (Photo Credit: John Autey)

Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng prepare for Summer League
(Photo Credit: John Autey)

Welcome to the Las Vegas Summer League folks!  We’re joined “live” on the Google Nexus 7 because NBA TV has the Timberwolves game in the 4am-6am timeslot (replacing the Hip Hop Abs infomercial for one week).  The Wolves opened up Summer League playing against the D-League Select team.  Here’s a quick recap of how the team looked and how things progressed in a somewhat surprisingly entertaining evening of basketball.

Steve Smith was the commentator for the game, thereby saving me a handful of whiny, complaining tweets about Reggie Miller.  Thankfully.  The Timberwolves starting five consisted of Kee Kee Clark, Shabazz Muhammad, Robbie Hummel, Chris Johnson, and Gorgui Dieng.  The production team must be ironing out the wrinkles as well, as they had Gorgui Dieng playing shooting guard when listing out the starting lineups.

My first thought was that I really like what David Adelman did by starting Johnson and Dieng together.  This immediately brought back memories of the Twin Towers at Georgetown.  Hey, it is Summer League, let that be.  My second thought/note is also of high importance – would someone please buy Shabazz a new pair of sneakers?  Those bright yellow kicks were an eyesore.

The first quarter was virtually all Wolves, as the starters jumped out to an early lead and maintained it throughout, doubling up the D-League team at the end of the frame, 22-11.  We saw a few nice moves from Muhammad to get the ball in the basket, as well as some quality minutes from Johnson and Hummel.

The D-League Select team came alive in the second quarter, outscoring the Wolves 21-11 and cutting the lead to one point at halftime, 33-32.  Robbie Hummel looked pretty good, as did Chris Johnson.

As an aside, Steve Smith was a welcomed voice on the broadcast.  (Paging TNT!)  There was certainly a Wolves-skewed amount of conversation during the broadcast, given they were playing the D-League team, we got to hear a lot of thoughts on the forthcoming season, the roster, etc.  If you get a chance, try to catch a replay of the game on NBA TV or through the Summer League app ($15 purchase).

The second half was full of a lot of back and forth between the two teams and exceeded my expectations from an entertainment standpoint.  Here are a few items that caught my eye:

  • Gorgui Dieng with a few nice moves in and around the paint, also showing an ability to drive from the top of the arc without tripping over himself or anyone else.
  • Hummel caught fire in the second half and showed a little bit of everything over the course of the game.  He could make the roster if he does the same over the next two weeks.
  • I was not impressed with Lorenzo Brown at all.  He turned the ball over too much, didn’t execute a play as the clock expired at the end of the third quarter, and seemed to ‘chuck it up’ a bit too much.  Steve Smith listed out quite a few negatives and things to work on for Brown, and let’s just say that I’ll be shocked if he makes the Wolves roster in the fall.
  • It was just like this past season for the Wolves, with Steph Hannah lighting up the team.  Hannah led the D-League with 23 points on 8-11 shooting and doing a little bit of everything else as well.

At the end of the third, the D-League team led the Wolves 59-55, putting up a 27 point quarter.  The Timberwolves tried to bounce back in the fourth quarter and retook the lead – at one point going up by seven points.  However, they ultimately couldn’t overcome Steph Hannah and the D-League Select squad, who made a run of their own and retook the lead.

Despite a three pointer at the final buzzer from Kee Kee Clark, the Wolves fell short 83-81.  Here are a few final stats from the game:

Wolves shot 52% from the floor, 39% from three point range (7-18), but only 6-8 from the FT line.  The Timberwolves also out-rebounded the D-League 36-26, had 14 assists (vs. 13), and twice as many blocks.  Where did the D-League win this one?  At the line (19-25 in FT’s), 11 steals (vs. 5 for the Wolves), which helped spike the total turnover numbers – 15 for the D-League, but 24 for the Wolves.  Ouch.

Just for fun, tonight’s Three Stars of the Game (through a Wolves lens only):

  1. Robbie Hummel
  2. Chris Johnson
  3. Othyus Jeffers