NBA Game Recap: Lakers 97 – Timberwolves 92

We apologize for the overdue game recap.. On the other hand, given the Wolves recent history against the Lakers, you probably knew the outcome before checking in with us. Friday night’s game made it 19 straight losses to LA, the longest such streak facing the Lakers against any team since 1999 (Dallas). It is also the longest losing steak against any one team in the NBA.

Our favorite ball club will have to wait until next season to end the streak, unless of course the two teams meet in the playoffs. In a year that the Wolves have ended many ugly streaks, the possibility of losing 20 straight to Kobe and Co. still looms.

And now, for some game notes:
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  • Friday’s game was the first game as a Laker for former T-Wolf Ramon Sessions. He is in the third year of a four year, $16 million dollar deal inked by our PG czar, David Kahn.
  • It has been interesting to gauge reactions to LA’s acquisition of Sessions. Regardless of what you think, he will give the team a new look at PG, a sore spot for the Lakers in previous years as Derrick Fisher aged into Mike Bibby 2.0.
  • Kevin Love has yet to beat the Lakers in his career. The power forward did not play in the previous two matchups this season.
  • This is about the time in each post where we beat the dead horse: we have a collection of shooting guards that don’t seem particularly fond of shooting the ball. Wes took 4 shots in 22 minutes on the floor and even found time for a rebound. Wayne Ellington did one better, scoring on 2 of 5 shots in 17 minutes. Yes, that’s correct, we got 7 points from the two young guards (3-9), along with 3 rebounds and 1 assist in 39+ minutes. Somewhere, John Hollinger’s head is exploding as he attempts to calculate each players PER.
  • JJ Barea has had some great moments in a Wolves uniform. He has transformed lifeless efforts by the starting five into unexpected victories. Tonight was not one of those nights. It can be exciting and maddening to watch Barea play – he often fails to get others involved, instead forcing shots up for himself.
  • Love had his usual double-double, with 27 points on 11-24 shooting and 15 rebounds.
  • Luke Ridnour did a nice job when running point, racking up 11 assists without turning over the ball.
  • Lets not forget that this is a talented Lakers team. Despite their struggles on the road, LA improved to 19-2 at home after Friday’s game.
  • The Wolves are now 1-2 to start the crucial 7 game road trip. The Pups will take their talents to Sacramento for the 3rd game of 4 against the Kings this year. We beat the Kings in the two previous meetings, each of which was at home.

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That’s all for now. Until next time..

NBA Game Recap: Knicks 100 – Timberwolves 98

Man, was I fired up to see the Knicks to come to town, reuniting two former Kansas State stars – Michael Beasley and Bill Walker. Somehow, someway, the game was overshadowed by two of the NBA’s newest darlings – Jeremy Lin and Ricky Rubio.

I’m just happy I could watch the game. Wolves fans in the great state of Minnesota had to suffer through another night of hockey on FSN. How is the most exciting team in the state barely on TV? Obviously, the lockout created some scheduling difficulties, but the other 29 teams seemed to figure it out. At this rate, Wolves announcers Tom Hanneman and Jim Petersen will be forced to start shopping at the dollar store.

Unfortunately, those of us watching on League Pass (or in person) saw the team squander away another lead late in the fourth quarter. After a strong first half, the pace of the game was slowed and became dull to watch. Our favorite team was held to 36 second half points (11 in the 4th quarter), shooting 31% in the process.

Last time the Knicks visited the Target Center was Kevin Love’s famous 31 point, 31 rebound effort. Tonight, it seemed as though Love’s teammates were just happy to have tickets to the show, hoping for a similar effort from the star. Love certainly did his part, with 32 points and 21 rebounds (18 defensive) in 43 minutes. He can’t do it all by himself.

Nikola Pekovic had another solid game, using his big frame to make Tyson Chandler look like a rag doll at times. Pek clearly got to Chandler, who was given a technical late in the third after sharing a few choice words and mean-mugging our boy from Montenegro. It’s never pretty with Pek, but hey, how can you complain? He gets the job done down low and comes to play hard every night.

Teams have taken notice to his (in)ability to handle the ball. As the Knicks showed last night, Pek is susceptible to having the ball stripped from him when taking the ball up for a shot. It will be interesting see if Jack Sikma, the Wolves assistant coach working with Pek on his post game, can help to clean things up. Regardless, we have a center for the future that can create space in the paint, whether it be as a starter or a reserve.

As a Wolves fan, it is a little weird to see the attention that point guard Jeremy Lin is getting nationally. In some respects, it is as if he has replaced Ricky Rubio as the media’s new favorite player. It sounds silly, but after years of misery in “fly-over country,” it has been pretty nice to be headline news anytime Rubio lights it up. Lin is a great story and surely someone we should all root for.

Living in Hong Kong, it is amazing to see the impact he has had internationally in such a short time. Highlights of the Wolves-Knicks game were shown during sports updates on the news (the only NBA game to be recapped) and his fame is growing with each passing day. For a continent full of Rockets, Lakers, and Heat fans, it will be interesting to see how much of an impact Lin is able to make. A great deal of the hype is due to the fact that he plays for one of the most storied franchises in the most famous arena in one of the largest cities in the world. The east coast media doesn’t hurt either. His production of late cannot be ignored, but his ability to continue playing at a high level will ultimately determine whether he is deserving of all the hoopla. Twitter has become unbearable, with some mention of #linsanity in every other Tweet..

Everything aside, Lin had an less than stellar game, marked by a few nice moments in the first half and a late free throw that helped to seal the game at the end. If you go to ESPN, however, you’d think that the guy did everything short of singing the national anthem. Lin was able to get to the lane at will in the first half, scoring 15 points (7-12 shooting) and dishing out 4 assists. The second half was a very different story, as the Knicks guard was clearly bothered by the defense of Ricky Rubio. Playing all 24 minutes of the second half, Lin shot 1-12, scoring 5 points with 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 turnovers. For a point guard, he sure gives the ball away a lot.

As mentioned, Rubio played well on the defensive end, giving little breathing room to Lin. As has been the story of late, he struggled shooting the ball but was able to find open teammates, racking up 8 assists compared to 2 turnovers. Amazingly, the two turnovers didn’t occur until the last 26 seconds of the game. The Wolves most clutch player found himself giving the ball up in the most important moments of the game. As his postgame comments reflected, he is best served using this as a learning experience rather than dwelling on a missed opportunity.

Now, for some more game notes:
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  • It was nice to see the Wolves get off to a quick start against the Knicks. The team made 7 of its first 9 shots and held a 22-11 lead halfway through the first quarter.
  • CAN IMAN SHUMPERT GET ANY LOVE?? Shumpert, not Jeremy Lin, was responsible for the Knicks victory, playing a huge minutes on defense and hitting big shots for his team at critical moments. The guard shot 9-16 (2-4 from beyond the arc) for 20 points, along with 4 steals in 29 minutes of play. After watching him play, it is clear that a) he is best served when not handling the point guard duties, b) he could be a big time player for years to come, and c) Jeremy Lin should be buying the guy dinner.
  • What happened to Pek? After dominating the paint in the first 3 quarters, Adelman only gave the center 2:39 of run in the final frame. For much of the game Pek was disrupting the Knicks defense and threw in some offense as well. He had four turnovers, reflecting the Knicks ability to strip the ball as he went to the hoop, but the man only missed ONE shot (9-10). Nikola’s disappearance was another puzzling game decision by Rick Adelman.
  • I want to love Wesley Johnson, I really really do, but the guy continues to take up space on the floor. Give me anything, anything at all and I’d be happy. Even if he’s not scoring, he needs to find ways to leave his mark on the game. Instead, we got this last night:
    17 minutes, 0 points (0-2), 1 rebound, 1 turnover, 1 foul.
  • Saturday night’s attendance was 20,232 – the 4th largest in Target Center history and biggest since March 12, 2004 vs. the Lakers

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Next Up: Monday night at Orlando, on FSN (and NBATV)

Love suspended, Lee sent to D-League

[quote]“I don’t want to be known for that. I want to be known as a standup guy that happened to make a mistake with his size 19 shoe and just move on.”[/quote]
 
As many around the league expected, Kevin Love has been suspended for 2 games by the NBA for his actions in the Timberwolves most recent victory against the Houston Rockets.

It will be interesting to see how the Wolves fare without Love, who has carried the team for much of the season. While we expect Derrick Williams to start in Love’s absence, Anthony Tolliver and Anthony Randolph should see extended minutes off the bench. Tolliver’s role has been minimized since seeing plenty of minutes to start the season, and Randolph has been in street clothes for the last two games.

In other Wolves news, rookie guard Malcolm Lee will begin a rehab assignment with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Lee is working to get back with the Pups after having knee surgery at the start of the regular season.

Hello .500!

The last time the Timberwolves had a record of .500 was midway through the 2006-07 season, four games after firing coach Dwane Casey. Yep, 390 games ago. As CanisHoopus pointed out, Stomp the Yard (one of our favorite movies at Timberpups.com) was in theaters way back then.

The way we see things, it is all too fitting that the Wolves reaching .500 for the first time in 1,832 days will likely be remembered as the game that Kevin Love stomped on poor Luis Scola’s face. The jury is out on Mr. Love’s left foot, but it didn’t look good. The Timberwolves will hope it doesn’t lead to suspension, and we hope that intentional or not, it doesn’t happen again. KLove shouldn’t be mixed up in news like this, and Luis Scola deserves a ton of credit for keeping his cool through it all.

No one needs to tell Timberwolves fans that it has been a long, long time since the club didn’t have a losing record (261 weeks, 5 days). There have been good times, along with plenty of bad. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve cheered, we’ve jeered. Below is a list of every player to record a stat for the Wolves since January 29, 2007 (59 in total). Enjoy.

Current Pups
Anthony Randolph
Anthony Tolliver
Brad Miller
Darko Milicic
Derrick Williams
Jose Barea
Kevin Love
Luke Ridnour
Martell Webster
Michael Beasley
Nikola Pekovic
Ricky Rubio
Wayne Ellington
Wesley Johnson

The Obvious
Kevin Garnett

False Hope
Marko Jaric
Mike James
Mike Miller

So that’s who we got for KG..
Al Jefferson
Gerald Green
Ryan Gomes
Sebastian Telfair
Theo Ratliff

White men can’t dance
Brian Cardinal
Mark Madsen

A few of the draft picks
Corey Brewer
Craig Smith
Jonny Flynn
Justin Reed
Lazar Hayward
Randy Foye

Point Guard/Rapper
Troy Hudson

Might as well send the direct deposit to Vegas
Antoine Walker

Who taught this guy how to pass?
Rashad McCants
Ricky Davis

Big, tall, and/or awkward
Calvin Booth
Jason Collins
Kosta Koufos
Mark Blount
Michael Doleac
Nathan Jawai
Ryan Hollins

I remember him from college
Alando Tucker
Bracey Wright
Chris Richard
Maurice Ager
Shelden Williams

Still trying to forget about these teams
Damien Wilkins
Greg Buckner
Kirk Snyder
Sasha Pavlovic
Sundiata Gaines

They were in the NBA?
Bobby Brown
Jason Hart
Oleksiy Pecherov

Best of the rest
Kevin Ollie
Ramon Sessions
Rodney Carney
Trenton Hassell

The Coaches
Randy Whitman (36-103)
Kevin McHale (20-43)
Kurt Rambis (32-132)
Rick Adelman (12-12)

The GMs
Kevin McHale (56-146)
David Kahn (44-144)

Overall record: 100-290

NBA Game Recap: Timberwolves 108 – Nets 105

 

Niiiiikolaaaaaaaaa!

Our favorite Montenegrin continued to produce in a big way for the Timberwolves, playing 34 minutes off of the bench in a Kevin Love-esque performance. While Timberpups.com can neither confirm nor deny recent rumors around the Twin Cities that GM David Kahn is saving the ‘Designated Player’ option for Pekovic, not Ricky Rubio, it was nice to see Pek build off of his strong play of late.

It’s a shame that this game wasn’t broadcasted in Minnesota, as the Wolves played well as a team and once again pulled through in the final minutes of a close game. As mentioned, Pekovic led the Pups to victory, scoring 27 points and pulling down 11 rebounds (7 offensive) in 34 minutes. He made 11 of his 14 shot attempts and 5 of 6 from the free throw stripe. The Nets had no answer for Pek’s size as he continues to have his way in the post. Taking a page from Kevin Love’s book, the center scored on numerous put-back buckets, a few times getting in the way of Love who was fighting for the same rebound.

Rick Adelman’s distribution of minutes has been puzzling at times, and tonight was no difference. As stated here before, with no true offseason it was to be expected that time on the court would be constantly evolving, especially early in the season. Darko started the game – his only shift – and logged a total of 8 minutes. If this game doesn’t lead to Pekovic in the starting lineup, I don’t know what will.

After giving the Pups some nice minutes in the past few games, Martell Webster played only 3 minutes in this match. Other players absent from the majority of this game were Wayne Ellington (7 minutes), Derrick Williams (6 minutes), and Anthony Tolliver (6 minutes). Tolliver will struggle to get time moving forward, as getting Williams on the court will likely be more of a priority.

One last note on playing time – Anthony Randolph was a healthy scratch for the second game in a row. With 15 roster spots, 13 players can dress for each game. Brad Miller and JJ Barea returning from injuries has forced Rick Adelman to deactivate Randolph. How long will this last? I love the veteran presence that Miller brings, and he probably has to be active for the Wolves to keep him happy. It will be interesting to see what the impending demotion of Darko to the bench will lead to.

And now for some game notes:
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  • The Nets got out to a quick start, with Ricky Rubio fouling Anthony Morrow on a 3 pointer 40 seconds into the game. The 6-5 shooting guard had one of the best games of his young career, racking up 42 points on 65% shooting from the field. The Wolves were tripped up on defense against Morrow all night – whether is was his shooting delivery or someone trying to close out too aggressively – and they sent the 93% free throw shooter to the line 8 times. Worst of all, the 3rd year player was fouled behind the arc 3 times (making one of the three shots), which helped the shooter to get off to an easy start.
  • Darko and Wesley Johnson were subbed for with 3:53 left in the 1st quarter. The substitution would mark the end of the game for Darko, and gave Johnson some much needed rest after another rough start. Beasley did a nice job after entering the game, scoring 7 straight at the end of the first quarter. He continued to find better shots, getting to the hoop at will against smaller defenders.
  • Speaking of Beasley, I read an article by a local writer that was quite critical of the forwards play recently. While his concerns are easily justified by Beasley’s past, I don’t see much reason for criticism since his return from an injury that kept him sidelined for 11 games. Yeah, the guy is going to huck up some shots that will make you queasy, but Super Cool Beas has been productive off the bench and hasn’t shown any visible frustration in his new role. I thought he did a nice job off the bench tonight, keeping the Wolves in the game with 10 points (4-7 shooting), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and only one turnover in a little over 12 minutes. Beasley only played 3:30 minutes in the second half, more a reflection of the play by Pekovic and Love than anything else. I definitely don’t travel with the team, in fact, I watch games half a day late from half-way around the world, but that’s just my take.
  • It was nice to see JJ Barea at point, leading the second team and giving the starters some rest in the first half. The second unit held its own, even extending the lead at times. Barea looks better with each game that passes and will provide Adelman the flexibility to put some interesting rotations together in relief of the starting 5.
  • As mentioned before, Darko did not play after his one shift starting the game, allowing Pekovic to start the second half. After a tough first half, Adelman stuck with Wes Johnson and was rewarded with a few nice flashes from the guard/forward. In one sequence, Wes scored 7 out of 10 points for the Pups, including a nice alley-oop after running the floor with Rubio, a three from the top of the key, and an and-one play after using a pump fake beyond the arc to get to the hoop. Adelman seemed to reward his play by keeping Johnson in during the final minutes of a yet to be decided game. More on Wes in a minute…
  • Nets coach Avery Johnson almost lead his team to victory after directing guard Keith Bogans to foul Luke Ridnour with 25.7 seconds left in the game. The Wolves were up 3, and the Net’s could have hoped for a defensive stop, which would have left around 4-5 seconds and a chance to tie the game. Instead, Ridnour made both free throws, and with the Wolves up 5, Wesley Johnson did the worst thing he could have possibly done by fouling Anthony Morrow while shooting a three. Morrow ended up making the three and the following free throw, which slashed the Pups lead to 1. With the score (and time) on their side, all the Wolves had to do was inbound and protect the ball, which they did until Barea was fouled with 18.2 seconds left.
  • The rest of the game played out predictably – Barea made both free throws, New Jersey got an easy dunk, and Ridnour made two free throws. With 10.2 seconds left and one last chance to tie, Deron Williams drove the lane and attempted to kick out to Morrow. Fortunately, Rubio was all over it, ending the game with his 6th steal of the night.
  • Next up: The Rockets, who we seem to play every other game. It will be the last matchup against The Ostrich (Kevin McHale) this year, and would be a fitting way to get back to .500 on the season. It’s been a while since the Wolves were .500 in February (yes, yes, I know, it’s a shortened season. I’ll take what I can get).

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Introducing the Three Stars of the Game

Yes, we’re from Minnesota. And yes, we’ve been known to watch a game of hockey or two. With that being said, we got to thinking – why not take a cue from hockey and name the top Three Stars of every game? Without much ado, here she is, the newest addition to the Timberpups blog: Three Stars of the Game.

Check it out and let us know what you think. The top players of each game is certainly up for debate.

NBA Game Recap: Jazz 108 – Timberwolves 98

Get used to it – this year’s 66 game schedule is going to be filled with plenty of games that leave you scratching your head. After pulling out a win in LA on Friday, the Wolves fell to the Jazz on the second night of a back-to-back. This years Jazz team looks promising, filled with a nice mix of young talent and solid veteran players. It can be tough to take too much out of a game like tonights, but here are a few notes on the game:

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  • Kevin Love continued to shy away from the paint, taking 12 of 21 shots from beyond 18 feet. He made just one of those 12 shots, and had five field goals on the night. I will be the last to be overly critical of Love – he shoulders more than his fair share and often has to play spotless for the Pups to win. Over the next few games, it will be interesting to see whether the shots start falling. If not, look for him to get back to what he does best, working with his back to the hoop. Oh, by the way, Love missed out on a double-double for the first time this year, ending the game with 8 rebounds.
  • How long can the Wolves play Love and Rubio for big minutes every night? The team has been hit with injuries as bad as any team in the league, but at some point the two stars will need to get some rest. Love got into foul trouble early against the Jazz, picking up his second foul with 4:23 left in the first quarter. With Love on the bench for a little more than ten minutes, the Pups played well and stayed in the game. Derrick Williams’ play was encouraging tonight, although it is clear his mind is still moving at a million miles an hour. Look for Williams to relieve Love for longer stretches of time as the rookie gets more experience.
  • Speaking of Love and Williams, the two forwards looked good when playing at the same time tonight. Love’s perimeter presence freed up space in the lane, allowing Williams to sneak behind the defense and pick up some easy buckets.
  • Where is Anthony Randolph? He has yet to play on the road trip, and has logged 40 minutes in the last six games since putting up 18 points against the Bulls on January 10th. Anthony Tolliver was quiet tonight as well, playing 7:38 with no points or rebounds.
  • The Wolves ended the game with a seven man rotation as Darko left the game halfway through the third with soreness in his hip and Tolliver not playing in the second half.
  • Wesley Johnson continues to look better and better with each passing game. The second year guard played 36 minutes, shooting 5-6 (2-3 from 3) and grabbing 6 rebounds. It is easy to see his confidence growing as he continues to attack the hoop, letting outside shots come to him rather than forcing them up.
  • The officiating was ugly in this one. Referee Marat Kogut was getting a good deal of ridicule from players and coaches, and deservedly so. It’s going to be a long season for everyone, including the refs.

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