Two pretty average NBA teams came together at the Air Canada Centre Friday night for the first time this season, with the 18-20 Timberwolves taking on the 19-18 Toronto Raptors. The Wolves play again on Saturday and that will be game number 41 on the season. You know what that means? We will be halfway through the NBA season and I’ll be putting together some thoughts on the team, its (blah) performance, and more in the coming days. Expect a few write-ups to hit the site between now and Tuesday.
Despite the underwhelming performances in the past few weeks, no changes to the Wolves starting lineup: Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love, and Pekovic. (For the record, I don’t believe there should be any changes in the starting lineup.) Speaking of underwhelming, the Raptors opened up with: Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross, DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson, and Jonas Valaciunas.
Wednesday night crossed the border into Canada and followed the Timberwolves to Toronto early on in the game. They couldn’t have looked worse in the first four minutes of the game, missing shots in the paint, committing offensive fouls, and not committing to defense. Coach Adelman burned an early timeout, with the score 10-2. It didn’t get much better for the rest of the quarter, as the Raptors held the Pups to a season low 15 points in the quarter and took a 22-15 lead into the break.
The second quarter was incredibly slow, with Dwane Casey’s style of basketball on full display. The Wolves looked lifeless until the final few minutes of the half, going on a 9-0 run to close out the quarter, trailing the Raptors 44-40. Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic had half the points and half the FG attempts and the rest of the starting lineup was invisible. They did however get a few good minutes from Ronny Turiaf and the bench. Here are a few halftime thoughts:
- Kevin Martin is completely invisible right now for the Wolves
- Ricky Rubio isn’t doing much better
- I have no idea how this was only a four point game at halftime, as Wolves Twitter is/was at wit’s end
- By the way, the Raptors were honoring their military Friday night and wearing … THIS:
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 17, 2014
Here is my biggest takeaway from the 3rd quarter: Rick Adelman was more comfortable going with an AJ Price + JJ Barea backcourt for the final minute and had yet to give a single minute to Shabazz Muhammad. To say I’m severely perplexed would be a massive understatement. Quite frankly, it isn’t right at all. Muhammad went down to the D-League and played well, but can’t get any minutes when the team is/was struggling like they were all night? End of rant, the Raptors continued to lead the Wolves at the end of the 3rd quarter, 69-61.
Rick Adelman’s lineup to start the 4th quarter: Barea, Price, Chase Budinger, and I think I saw David Adelman and Crunch in there? In other words, I have no idea what Rick Adelman is doing anymore. It isn’t fun, funny, or remotely enjoyable to watch. We’re actually going to stop here because I have nothing positive to say – the chemistry, the execution, everything is just “off” right now. (See “Key Takeaways” below for more … I lied.)
Final score: Raptors 94, Timberwolves 89
Three Stars of the Game
- Kyle Lowry
- Amir Johnson
- DeMar DeRozan
- Gorgui Dieng and Robbie Hummel were inactive tonight. I have NO idea why Dieng is being subbed out for AJ Price. I have never really bought into the “Adelman hates rookies” mantra, but I do believe he is doing a huge disservice to the future of this franchise by not giving these young players minutes and allowing them to learn from their mistakes. “These guys” = Derrick Williams, Shabazz, and Dieng.
- The Wolves desperately need to shake up the roster. For the sake of chemistry at the very, very least.