Season’s Over – Thunder Rock Timberwolves 138-113

Admit it, this made you laugh too. (Photo credit: William Bennett Barry on WelcomeToLoudCity.com)

Admit it, this made you laugh too. (Photo credit: William Bennett Barry on WelcomeToLoudCity.com)

 

The end of the 2014/15 NBA regular season is now official for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who finish the year with a (largely pathetic) 16-66 record.  As you likely know, the Oklahoma City Thunder entered the game with a chance to make the playoffs as the 8th seed with a victory and a little help down in New Orleans.

There wasn’t much doubt going into the evening with the plethora of injuries the Timberwolves have amounted over the past few weeks and months, along with a strong desire to have the most ping pong balls in the NBA lottery.  The 16 wins on the season equates to the third worst record in the team’s history.  You’ll find a bullet point list of things to consider for the Wolves’ offseason below.

The Thunder … well, they have Russell Westbrook.  Without Kevin Durant, the Thunder have struggled to hold onto a playoff spot and will retool in the offseason.  The Pelicans took care of the Spurs Wednesday night and will take the 8 seed in the Western Conference.

The Pups starting lineup consisted of Zach LaVine, Kevin Martin, Andrew Wiggins, Adreian Payne, and Arinze Onuaku.  Interesting stat/number from this season – Wiggins is only one of ten players to start all 82 games this season.  That number is extraordinarily low and concerning.  “Hello reduced NBA game schedule!”

OKC opened up with Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Dion Waiters, Enes Kanter, and Steven Adams.

The Thunder got off to an 8-0 start and the game was essentially decided at that point, despite several attempts by the Wolves to make it a closer contest.  At the end of the 1st quarter, the Thunder held a 47-29 advantage.  You read that correctly.  Westbrook had 23 points at the end of the first 12 minutes.  Did I mention this game was over when the score was 8-0?

Let’s just run through the score at the end of each quarter:

  • Halftime: Thunder 76 – Wolves 54
  • End of 3rd: Thunder 106 – Wolves 85
  • End of game: Thunder 138 – Wolves 113

Rather than say anything else about the season ending loss, here are a number of thoughts on this franchise as it heads into another playoff-less offseason.  We’ll look to cover some of this in a lot more detail at the appropriate time.

  • I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I truly believe that Andrew Wiggins isn’t getting enough credit for his rookie season.  His month to month averages improved as the season progressed, he played in all 82 games, and he never hit the rookie wall.  That’s un-freaking-believable!
  • Flip Saunders must get off of the sideline as Head Coach.  Sorry Flip, but you have to get out of the way of your own self.
  • I hope to see Ricky Rubio and Kevin Garnett on the court, fully healthy, next season for this team.  I don’t expect early 2000’s KG by any stretch, but their combined passion for basketball would be glorious.
  • Speaking of Rubio, we are on the border of hitting the dreaded “injury plagued” rumor with him.  If he can’t stay healthy next season, this franchise is in a lot of trouble.  A lot.
  • While Karl-Anthony Towns (or Jahlil Okafor) is heavily preferred, even without either player on next year’s roster, the Wolves need to find a new home for Nikola Pekovic.  That isn’t going to be easy.
  • The Wolves would also be better served to find a new home for Kevin Martin.

That’s it for this season’s game recaps folks.  What are your thoughts on the forthcoming offseason?  Where are, or should, the focus be put on the court, on the sideline, and/or in the front office?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

Tank You Very Much; Wolves Win by Losing

Ricky Rubio, hours after ankle surgery, watches the Wolves on his laptop. (Via Rubio' Twitter handle - @RickyRubio9)

Ricky Rubio, hours after ankle surgery, watches the Wolves on his laptop. (Via Rubio’ Twitter handle – @RickyRubio9)

The Wolves out-tanked the Knicks.

As sad as that might be, it’s a quite impressive feat, really. The Knicks were a team that began their tanking efforts from the very start, and never relented until the very end. GM Phil Jackson and Coach Derek Fisher tried everything: trading away key starters for scraps, resting Carmelo Anthony and Jose Calderon after the All-Star Break, starting players like Alexey Shved, Travis Wear, and Jason Smith, but it was all for naught.

Who do they have to thank for their spoiled efforts? The pesky Minnesota Timberwolves, of course. President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders, along with Coach Flip Saunders, saw the Knicks horrid roster, and decided the Wolves could outdo them in all facets. After early injuries to Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin made any thoughts of playoff aspirations a thing of the past, Flip went all-in. He traded contributors Mo Williams, Corey Brewer, and Thaddeus Young for draft picks and players that had few positive contributions this season, signed no names to 10-day contracts, and, most impressively, kept insisting on starting Zach LaVine at point guard.

It took 81 games to accomplish their goal, but the Wolves are now 1 loss from assuring themselves the worst record in the league, and the guaranteed top-4 pick that comes with it.

Coming into yesterday, the Wolves were tied with the Knicks, and would need a loss, coupled with another miracle win from the Knicks to have a chance at sole possession of best of the worst.

The Wolves held up their end of the bargain, although it took until the 4th quarter for the Pelicans to pull away from Minnesota. Only a few things, from the game are worth mentioning. One of them came from Andrew Wiggins, who nearly started a war with Turkey due to his dunk over Omer Asik.

Wiggins wasn’t done settling diplomatic feuds on the court. In the fourth quarter, he attempted another posterizer, this time over French big man Alexis Ajinca. He ended up missing it by inches, but look where he takes off from!

Yeah, that would’ve been better than his first dunk. Still, it might be the most impressive missed dunk I’ve ever seen.

Even with Wiggins monster dunks, the Wolves fell 100-88. Minnesota actually ended the game with only 6 healthy players, as Justin Hamilton and Chase Budinger picked up injuries during the game. Per league rules, the Wolves are going to need 8 healthy players for the season finale Wednesday, and Flip is looking for eager volunteers to suit up.

So with the Wolves losing, all they would need is a Knicks win. Thankfully, that’s exactly what they got, as the Knicks, with a combined 77 points from retired pirate Langston Galloway, average joe Jason Smith, “not the good” Tim Hardaway, and man-bun connoisseur Lou Amundson, prevailed in a 112-108 victory over a Hawks team resting most of their starters.

Knicks fans, who had been dead set on finishing in last for months, were FURIOUS, and nothing is funnier than angry Knicks fans.

The following images are #NSFW (Not safe for work).

It gets funnier.

For this fans sake, I hope the Knicks lose on Wednesday.

At least the sound of this fan vomiting will be more pleasant than hearing Knicks owner James Dolan try and sing.

Godspeed, Knicks, and tank you very much.

 

How About Some Anagrams?

 

(Photo via Rock Wildner/NBA Getty Images)

(Photo via Rock Wildner/NBA Getty Images)

The Wolves lost again. SHOCKER, I know. They were demolished on defense by Omri Casspi and Derrick Williams, which is sad. The whole game was sad, really. In fact, you could probably use something to cheer you up.

With that in mind, here are some anagrams for each of the 25 Wolves players to appear this season. Some are hilarious, some are mediocre, but all of them will take your mind off the Wolves terrible play.

Miroslav Raduljica

Jocular Maid Rivals

Sean Kilpatrick

A Stickier Plank

Kirk is Placenta

Irk, Satanic Kelp

Karate Lick Nips

Knit Lice Parkas

Anal Spit-Kicker

Chase Budinger

Herb Guidance

A Inbreed Chugs

Justin Hamilton

Lit Human Joints

No Lush Tit In Jam

Arinze Onuaku

A azure oak nun

Lorenzo Brown

Zero Blown Ron

Adreian Payne

A Pee In A Randy

Kevin Martin

Invert A Mink

Venti Arm Ink

Andrew Wiggins

Wandering Swig

We Dig Warnings

A Swinging Drew

Gnawed Wirings

Corey Brewer

Cry, bee-rower

Rye Beer Crow

Glenn Robinson

Long Boners Inn

No Inborn Glens

Gorgui Dieng

I’d Urge Going

Goring Guide

Zach LaVine

A Zilch Vane

Robbie Hummel

Helium Bomber

Humor Me, Bible

Anthony Bennett

Ban Thy Neon Tent

Nth Ebony Tenant

Gary Neal

Nag Relay

Grey Anal

Angry Ale

Troy Daniels

Solitary End

Oral Density

Oral Destiny

I Dearly Snot

Reality Nods

Shabazz Muhammad

A Dam Sham, Ham Buzz

Mama Had Buzz Sham

Mo Williams

Will Is Ammo

Thaddeus Young

Unsteady Dough

Dude, So Naughty

Day Use Dong Hut

Kevin Garnett

Tin Keg Tavern

Knitten Grave

Vet Ring Taken

Ronny Turiaf

Urinary Font

Furry Nation

Ricky Rubio

I, Your Brick

Nikola Pekovic

Pa, Kick No Olive

Flip Saunders

Painful Dress

I Slap Refunds

Dual Serf Nips

Magic Dust Over Timberwolves, 97-84

Andrew Wiggins and Elfrid Payton (Getty Images)

Andrew Wiggins and Elfrid Payton (Getty Images)

Ahead of the final west coast road trip of their season, the Minnesota Timberwolves hosted the Orlando Magic in Minneapolis Friday night.  As has been the case over the past few weeks, Flip Saunders was forced to throw out another starting lineup, going with Zach LaVine, Kevin Martin, Andrew Wiggins, Adreian Payne, and Justin Hamilton.  This may not be the exact number, but I count 54,328 different starting lineups this season for the Pups.

An almost equally struggling Magic squad (22-53 coming into Friday night) started with Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Nikola Vucevic, and Dewayne Dedmon.  The Magic have underachieved this year and fired Jacque Vaughn last month.  This is their new head coach (James Borrego) …

Put your hands up if you are excited to coach the Orlando Magic!!  (Associated Press)

Put your hands up if you are excited to coach the Orlando Magic!! (Associated Press)

You may notice that I’m stalling in actually writing about Friday night’s game …

The Magic opened the game strong, quickly opening up a double digit lead.  They shot 60% in the opening quarter, compared to the Wolves’ 35%.  The Wolves’ starting backcourt shot a combined 1-7 from the field for 3 points.  Not ideal.  At the end of the 1st quarter, the Magic held a 29-23 lead.

Tobias Harris scored the first 8 points for the Magic in the second quarter, as they reopened a double digit lead in the early minutes of the quarter.  After cutting the Magic lead down to six with just a few minutes to play in the half, the Wolves started getting sloppy (again) with the basketball and managed to give back any traction they made.  At the half, the Magic held a 52-42 advantage.

Halftime highlights:

  • Wolves held a huge advantage at the free throw line, going 14-16 from the line, while the Magic were only 6-10.
  • However, the Wolves were 0-8 from 3PT range.
  • Chase Budinger had a nice half with 9 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block and 1 steal in 17 minutes.

The Magic and Wolves went back and forth throughout the 3rd quarter.  Every time the Wolves made a small run to cut the lead down to six points, the Magic found a way to increase their lead back to 10+ points.  The Wolves cut the lead to four points but the Magic came back yet again and took a 72-65 lead into the final quarter.

After more back and forth, Tobias Harris drilled two three point FG’s from basically the same spot on the floor, pushing the Magic lead to 86-74.  In the end, the Magic walk out of the Target Center with a 97-84 victory over the Timberwolves.

A few notes from the game:

  • The Magic out-rebound the Wolves 53-30 on the night, including a 20-3 advantage on the offensive boards.
  • The teams combined for 39 turnovers.
  • Wiggins led the Wolves with a somewhat quiet 22 points.
  • LaVine finished the game with a box score of 10/5/5, but his performance was significantly worse than those numbers.  Sorry, they were.

 

Wolves Fall to Lowly Jazz 104-84

NBA: Utah Jazz at Minnesota TimberwolvesGame Recap

Heading into Monday night’s matchup against the Utah Jazz, the Wolves were 15-58, so by the laws of Loserville, USA, they subsequently fell to 15-59. The game was uncompetitive from the get-go and provided little value to Timberwolves fans, other than being another opportunity to watch rising star Andrew Wiggins.  The injury report included Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Gorgui Dieng, Nikola Pekovic (out for season),  Kevin Garnett, and Gary Neal.

The only thing that kept me captivated this game was listening for “Play like clowns for Towns” chants to make their way through Target Center. To start out the first quarter the Wolves brought out Zach Lavine, Wiggins, Adrein Payne, Lorenzo Brown, and some excuse for an NBA player in a guy named Justin Hamilton. That lineup was the most disappointing one I’ve seen since watching the roast of Justin Beiber. The Jazz countered with Rudy Gobert, Gordon Hayward, Trevor BookerDante Exum, and Rodney Hood.

The first quarter mimicked what we have previously seen over the past few weeks, consisting of a young, injured team in desperate need of their injury-riddled teammates on the floor in order to function properly. The Target Center was treated to a boring opening twelve minutes that did little more than fueling a mini Gobert vs. Wiggins rivalry that would prove to be a somewhat intriguing matchup. The Wolves trailed 18-25 at the end of 1.

The second quarter was the only part of the game that I’ll value beyond tonight, as Wiggins threw in a few highlight-reel plays that juiced the crowd. In a game of two teams not going anywhere, Andrew Wiggins did the seemingly impossible by posterizing the 7’1″ Gobert (7’8.5″ wingspan), but the French center returned the favor on a following possession by promptly rejecting Wiggins. It was a series that demonstrated the bright futures of each player, and rejuvenated a lifeless crowd for a brief moment. The first half ended with the score 50-40 in favor of Utah.

The start of the third quarter was where the game got seriously depressing, as the Jazz went on a 14-0 run to put their lead at 24. This is the point in the game where most teams would bench their starters in favor of their scrubs, but given that the Wolves started the game with scrubs, they simply had to battle through it like they have most of the season where most teams put in scrubs, and try to rest starters. LaVine used the third quarter to practice his ill-advised early shot clock long-two pointers, while the Jazz piled on the fast break points. Ubiquitous dysfunction from Minnesota helped their quest for more ping pong balls come draft time. The game ultimately ended in a 104-84 loss.

News & Notes

  • Minnesota used their 27th starting lineup this year, a franchise record.
  • Zach LaVine led the team with 21 points, despite not impressing me at all.
  • With Pekovic out for the season it will be interesting to see if we have seen the last of him in a Wolves jersey.
  • Andrew Wiggins yet again showed he will be a superstar with his poster dunk of Rudy Golbert.
  • Gobert scored 15 points and had 11 boards leading the Jazz to the win.

What’s next: The Wolves will host the Raptors at 7 p.m. Wednesday night helping this nightmarish season come to a close. The Raptors will be coming in looking to help their playoff position, so don’t be surprise if the Wednesday’s results aren’t too different from Monday’s.

Pelicans Rout Wolves (Again)

(Via Scott Threlkeld/AP)

(Via Scott Threlkeld/AP)

Ick.

The Wolves played two games at Smoothie King Center this year. They lost the first matchup in November by a franchise worst 48 points. It was an embarrassing, pathetic, and all-around shameful effort from a team that came into the season with the goal of at least being a competitive force in the daunting Western Conference.

When the Wolves made their second and final trip of the season to New Orleans last night, they were, at the very least, mediocre. They didn’t completely crap the bed, so I guess you can give them credit for that. Still, they lost by 22 points, which is technically an improvement.

Overall, the Wolves were outscored by a count of 179-249 in their two visits to Smoothie King Center. That’s an average of 35 points! By any metric, whether it’s PER or anything else, that is bad. Really bad.

Just how bad were the Wolves in their visits to New Orleans? I’ll present the stats below, but if you get queasy easily, you may not want to look.

Combined Simple +/- Over the 2 games

Zach Lavine -51

Gorgui Dieng -34

Andrew Wiggins -33 (A bit misleading, his +/- last night was only -5)

Kevin Martin -31*

Robbie Hummel -27

Anthony Bennett -26

Nikola Pekovic -25*

Lorenzo Brown -23*

Chase Budinger -15

* – Only appeared in 1 of the games

I could go on, but it’s quite depressing.

Anyhow, the Wolves did provide a few highlights last night, coming in the form of dunks.

The first was from soon to be Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, who flew so high he nearly hit his head on the rim.

Soon after, LaVine joined the party, posterizing Omer Asik.

Rockets Blast Past Timberwolves, 120-110

Wolves fans only have to keep their eyes on Andrew Wiggins to enjoy what should be a great future. (Credit: Scott Halleran, Getty Images)

Wolves fans only have to keep their eyes on Andrew Wiggins to enjoy what should be a great future. (Credit: Scott Halleran, Getty Images)

 

Our Minnesota Timberwolves traveled to Houston to take on the Rockets Friday night.  Both teams are dealing with a slew of injuries, but only one of them was clinching a playoff spot with a victory on Friday.  Dwight Howard returned to action in the Rockets’ last game, but Houston also lost Patrick Beverley.  With that, Kevin McHale’s starting lineup included Jason Terry, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Josh Smith, and Howard.  Flip Saunders countered his coaching buddy with Lorenzo Brown, Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, Adreian Payne, and Gorgui Dieng.

As you may have been able to predict given those starting lineups, the Wolves were overmatched largely throughout.  The Rockets came out flying all over the court, opening up a quick 11-2 run and leading to an early timeout from Flip.  Minnesota scored the next six points, but the Rockets answered with a few three pointers.  It turned into a playground game for the final eight minutes of the first quarter – a good number of turnovers, steals, loose balls, etc.

Looking for a bright spot on the Wolves (outside of Wiggins) and look no further than Chase Budinger, who was 2-2 from the field for five points in five minutes on the court.  Entering Friday night’s action, Chase had scored in double digits in each of the past seven games.

At the end of the first quarter, the Rockets held a 31-22 advantage.  At the end of the first half, the Rockets held a 10 point lead, 60-50.

Halftime highlights:

  • Rockets’ announcer on Wiggins, “He’s the future of the league”.  (True story)  Wiggins got to the line 12 times (9 makes) in the first half.  That’s unreal!
  • Ugly basketball, as the Rockets had 13 turnovers and the Pups had 8 of their own
  • Wolves were killed on the boards, as Houston held a 22-10 advantage

After struggling from the field in the first half, James Harden exploded in the third quarter, hitting his first four three point attempts coming out of the locker room.  When it looked like the Wolves might pack it up, a spark from LaVine and Payne led an 11-3 run to cut the lead to single digits, forcing Kevin McHale to get out of his seat while on the sideline … the horror.

At the end of the third quarter, the Rockets maintained a ten point lead, 90-80.  Both teams put up 30 points in the quarter, led by James Harden who had already gone over 30 points in the game before the final quarter even began.

Every single, small run that the Wolves went on was met with a barrage of three pointers from the Rockets.  In the end, the Timberwolves simply didn’t have enough firepower to stay with one of the better teams in the NBA.  With the victory, the Rockets are now officially in the playoffs.

The final score, Rockets 120 – Timberwolves 110

A few notes from the game:

  • A somewhat quiet double-double for Gorgui Dieng, who finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds
  • Wiggins finished with 31 points, while Budinger finished with a season high 23 points
  • The Rockets attempted 44 three point field goals (ridiculous) and they made 20 of them (also ridiculous)