While Minnesota was going for it and playing their top guys, that clearly wasn’t the strategy for the Blazers, who sat all of their starters for the game (McCollum, Barton, Claver, Robinson or Leonard). So no CJ McCollum for the small army of you who wanted him in a Timberwolves uniform coming out of the draft. Sorry. One final note for the final game for the Wolves: we had a special analyst calling the game with Matt Devlin, as former Pup Sam Mitchell was in the booth!
The first quarter started with a Shabazz offensive foul and then a missed jump shot, giving a little early ammo to his critics. Stop me if you have read this a few times this week, but the first quarter was full of turnovers and stints of basketball without any buckets. The Summer League “Twin Towers” kept the Timberwolves in the game, combining for eight of the team’s fifteen points in the first quarter. At the end of one, the Blazers held a one point lead, 16-15. The Wolves shot 5-15 from the floor and 4-8 from the line in the quarter.
Flip joined the broadcast in the second quarter and as provided over the course of this past week, here are a few highlights:
- Covered off on Shabazz’s struggles and learning to play in a system
- Dieng is “NBA ready” on the defensive end of the floor
- Says the team has become one of the more versatile teams in the league
- Barea will have a similar role now vs. what/how he played in Dallas
With regard to the actual game going on, the Timberwolves caught “fire” early in the second quarter, led by Clark and Mychel Thompson. Kee Kee hit three 3PT’s in the quarter and helped give the Wolves the lead. However, Shabazz struggled to find his groove on the offensive end, which included another turnover. I’ve called out the negatives, so allow me to be fair and balanced here and point out that Lorenzo Brown executed in the final minute of the half, assisting on a basket to John Holland and scoring as the clock ticked down. At halftime, the Wolves led 39-32.
All of the good that the Timberwolves put forth in the second quarter was negated by their play in the third. Minnesota scored twelve points in the quarter, and gave up twenty to Portland. The most intriguing part of the quarter was actually Sam Mitchell’s commentary, where he suggested that there might not be minutes for Shabazz in the Wolves rotation and that he could spend time in the D-League. Sam was not saying that Shabazz should be there or deserved to be there, he was simply saying that with the moves the team has already made (Budinger, Brewer, + Martin) it might be better for Shabazz to play big minutes in the D-League.
I’m going to chew on that for a bit, as I certainly can understand what Sam was saying here. It might make sense to send Shabazz down on weeks where the team only plays 2 games and is traveling / not practicing and to get heavy minutes there. Before this turns into an opinion piece, the score at the end of three was Portland 52, Minnesota 51.
I have yet to mention Robbie Hummel’s name, as he was kept out of tonight’s action. Perhaps it was his ankle or the amount of playing time he received up to this point in the week, but his hustle and grit was certainly missed (for me at least, maybe not the team). Two of the three rookies impressed me in the fourth quarter, as Dieng and Brown both played very well this evening. Starting at the five minute mark or so, the Wolves went on an 8-0 run to take the lead and were able to hold on from there. The Timberwolves close their Las Vegas Summer League experience with a win, beating the Blazers 72-66.
Friday’s Timberwolves Summer League Three Stars of the Game …
- Lorenzo Brown
- Gorgui Dieng
- Othyus Jeffers