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)


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)


What the Hell Happened Monday in Utah?

(Via Russ Isabella/USA Today)

(Via Russ Isabella/USA Today)

Seriously, what the hell happened? I still can’t quite wrap my head around it.

Somehow, someway, the Wolves beat the Jazz Monday night in Salt Lake City. Minnesota did it with just 7 healthy players. Of those players, 3 had spent time in the D-League this season (Payne, Kilpatrick, Brown). The only healthy player on the roster who isn’t a rookie or sophomore was Budinger, and should he really even count?

Look, the game certainly wasn’t pretty, but the Wolves inexplicably got the job done. The game featured a combined 39 turnovers, including 7 from Zach LaVine, 6 from Joe Ingles, 5 from Trey Burke, and 4 from Andrew Wiggins. Yet, a game that spent around 47 minutes being a complete mess turned into the Zach LaVine show, as his two 3 pointers in the final minute (one of which came from the parking lot) forced overtime, and the Wolves came away with the victory.

So what did we learn? Not much, but there were a few interesting tidbits from Monday that shouldn’t be glossed over.

1) Zach LaVine is NOT a point guard


This should be glaringly obvious, but in case it’s not, let me reiterate. Zach LaVine is a natural and perfect fit at the shooting guard spot. As insanely fast and athletic as LaVine is, he should not be spending the majority of his time as the teams primary ball handler. His dribbling skills aren’t nearly consistent enough, his court vision isn’t the greatest, and his undeveloped decision making skills make him an extremely poor fit at the point guard.

Monday, LaVine spent quality time at the 2 guard, and as a result had one of his best offensive displays of this season. He didn’t have to worry about calling plays or orchestrating the offense, and it led to him making solid cuts to the perimeter where he draining a career-high 5 threes, while also displaying impressive finishing moves as he had a few acrobatic layups when he did drive to the basket.

2) 3 pointers are good

The Wolves were 12-19 from 3 Monday, which for any other team would be nothing more than a side note. But for the Wolves, a team that averages just 5 made 3 pointers a game, it was a miracle. The craziest part, is that it resulted in a victory! It’s almost as if 3 pointers are a more efficient shot than midrange jumpers. Crazy, right? If this really is the case, the Wolves should be shooting this many 3’s every night, and maybe stop settling for 18 footers.

3) Winning is Important, Even if it Costs the Wolves Draft Position

Let’s face it, the Wolves are not catching New York for the worst record in the league, and they will probably end up ahead of either Los Angeles or Philadelphia at seasons end. But simply because the Wolves are in a tight race at the bottom of the standings doesn’t mean the Wolves should be trying to lose. For a team as young as Minnesota, it’s equally important to keep morale high. A happy locker room is good for everyone – players, reporters, the coaching staff, and fans, so why kill a team’s spirits by intentionally losing.

Just look at Wiggins and LaVine hugging! How could you possibly root for them to lose!


Good Half, but Raptor Crept Away on Win

(AP Photo by Nathan Denette)

It’s not who you play, it’s when. Though the season it mostly over, the Wolves have not faced the Raptors yet this season. Earlier this year, the Raptors were the talk of the league. Lately, they’ve cooled off. #Opportunity

The Raptors and their fans were excited to finally host the Wolves. It is a homecoming for Wiggins and Bennett. Though Bennett was out, he and Wiggins were celebrated tonight #CanadaPride

For the Wolves who have been very short-handed lately, they received great news. Ricky is back! It makes all the difference. #RickyMatters

K-Mart was open in Toronto tonight. The first quarter was unbelievable. Martin was a great first quarter, especially from long distance! It was oddly contagious as even Buddinger nailed a 3 in the first quarter. #NeedDeepMakes

The Wolves played a great first half. Rubio and Brown both played guard well and you can see that Brown was a great pickup in a team needed a boost.

The Wolves were down, but battled back repeatedly. At halftime, it was tied with Martin chipping in 22 of the team’s 54 points.
Budinger scored the last bucket of the half by running in from out of bounds and catching an off-guard defense off their game.

At half, there was much to like. The game was tied, Wiggins was playing decently, and the rest of the Wolves could easily make the difference.

The third quarter was truly an opportunity. The Wolves missed open threes and had great down-low shots that didn’t drop. It was sloppy at times. The Wolves kept close, but the Raptors crept ahead and created a gap that Minnesota couldn’t close. When the quarter ended, the Wolves were up 7 (after an offensive turnover on LaVine’s carry followed by a close miss by Toronto).

The 4th was a great battle. Toronto extended the lead to 10 and the Wolves countered cutting the deficit to 4. A big 3 made it 7 and the Wolves responded with 2 buckets to make it 3. I’m pretty sure Wolves fans felt it wasn’t meant to be when Rubio leads the fast break and gives Budinger the ball on the left only to travel. I’m sure cursing and hair-pulling ensued.

Overall, the Wolves had opportunities, but are not able to translate those chances into buckets. In a close loss, those missed opportunities are key.

This game featured fouls which did not help Minnesota. The Wolves shot 67% making 10 of only 15 while the Raptors shot 85% making 23 of 27 from the free throw line. #GottaMakeTheFreebies

Highlights of the night? There were plenty.

  • Many great shots by Martin #HighlightReel
  • LaVine’s double-pump dunk with about 5 minutes left in the 3rd #SlamDunkChamp
  • Budinger was a contributor and had a couple nice drives to the hoop #NeedGingerProduction

Who’s Boarding?
I’m still lost by the lack of rebounding #NoDoubleDoubles. The Wolves are not an offensive rebounding team. Heck, they are not a good rebounding team at all. Tonight Wiggins led the Wolves with 3. Yes, 3.

That actually isn’t bad, but in the League it is not good. The leading rebounders were Rubio and Budinger. Yes, Rubio, who had 7 defensive rebounds. #TakeThatIn

Missing Ham
Unfortunately, newest Wolf Hamilton was missing tonight due to illness. The game I watched really looked like it needed some of his presence. At the last home Wolves game, I sat next to a fan who was excited about Hamilton’s impact. This game needed his presence. Paul called it saying that Hamilton IS getting a double-double, but we’ll have to wait and see when. I’ll hold onto the hashtag ‪#‎PaulisCorrect‬ for a future game report.

Congrats to Dwayne Casey
I have to say congrats to Raptors coach Dwayne Casey. The ex-Wolves Coach #Underappreciated is leading the Raptors to the #2 seed in the East. Though the East isn’t the West (the Raptors’ record would put them in the 8 spot in the West), the Raptors are still a nice surprise this season.

Let’s Talk About March Madness (Definitely Not a Game Recap)

Will Towns slide into the Wolves future plans?

Will Towns slide into the Wolves future plans?

Last night, the shorthanded Wolves were demolished once again, this time at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets. Even without a litany of key players, the Wolves could have at least tried, especially on the defensive end. Instead, they gave up 122 points to a team averaging just 96, and allowed Brooklyn to shoot 58% from the floor. It was embarrassing, depressing, and at times, borderline pathetic.

Dissecting the Wolves effort last night on defense would be akin to the time I dissected a smelly, slimy, stinky frog for the first time in 9th grade Science class. Instead I’m going try something different, but still related to the Timberwolves. For this game recap, I’m going to preview some of the top prospects in this summer’s NBA Draft, and tell you what to watch for as March Madness begins.

The Big Names:

Karl Anthony-Towns –  Freshman, 7’0″ PF/C, Kentucky

Per 40 (minutes) numbers: 18.7 points on 56% shooting, 12.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 4.5 blocks, 0.9 steals, 2.6 TO

Karl Anthony-Towns, or KAT, as some refer to him, is as good of a defender as you will find in college. Towns is relentless, going out of his way to alter any shot in his sight. Towns doesn’t back down to anyone, and has the instincts and skill set to be a force at the next level.

It’s not just his defense that impresses. Towns already has the footwork of a professional in the post. He can pivot, spin, pump fake, and do anything else he’s asked of efficiently and effectively. Towns is a tenacious rebounder, and his 7’3″ wingspan allows him to grab boards over almost anyone.

Willie Cauley-Stein – Junior, 7’0″ PF/Center, Kentucky

Per 40: 14.6 points on 58% shooting, 10.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 2.6 blocks, 2.0 steals, 2.0 TO

There’s quite a bit of hype surrounding Towns, but what about Kentucky’s other 7 foot defensive beast, Willie Cauley-Stein? Cauley-Stein, like Towns, is a defensive monster. Cauley-Stein may not have the footwork and finesse of Towns, but he’s one of the fastest, longest, and agile 7 footers you’ll ever see. His offensive game could use a little work, but his defensive and finishing abilities have led to comparisons to a young Tyson Chandler, which I don’t feel is ludicrous at all. In fact, it’s conceivable that Caulie-Stein could be Tyson Chandler 2.0; an elite rim protecter that can finish like few other big man and can run the floor like a wing. This doesn’t mean he will be the next Chandler, but I think his ceiling is around that level.

Either way, the duo of Towns and Cauley-Stein have proven to be so good defensively that it’s almost unfair for their inferior competition. The Wolves could sorely use either of the two. I mean, just look at Kentucky’s defensive shot chart.

Potential Matchup to Watch: Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein vs. Bigs of Purdue (Round of 32)

Once Kentucky destroys their first round opponent, the Wildcats could face a potential second round game with Purdue. Although Kentucky will more than likely handle Purdue with ease, there will be a fun matchup inside to look for. Purdue has two 7 footers in Isaac Haas and AJ Hammons. The duo isn’t nearly as athletic as the combination of Towns and Cauley-Stein, but they pose a legitimate threat on defense. Expect Kentucky’s bigs to dominate, and to give Purdue an entertaining and hilarious beat down.

D’Angelo Russell – Freshman, 6’5″ Guard, Ohio State

Per 40: 23.1 points on 46% shooting, 41% from 3, 6.7 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.9 steals, 0.3 blocks, 3.5 TO

Ohio State will more than likely only play a game or two in the tournament, so if you want a look at him, you should make sure to catch their first game vs. VCU. If Towns is the best defender in the draft, Russell is the most complete offensive player. There’s very little he can’t do on the offensive end. He can drive, dish, rebound, shoot, and cut with ease.

The best way to describe Russell’s style of play is smooth. Russell makes it all look easy, and there’s a flow to his game that’s impossible to replicate. He’s fast, initiates the offense quickly, and has handles well beyond his years.

Stanley Johnson – Freshman, 6’6″ Forward, Arizona

Per 40: 19.9 points on 45% shooting, 37% from 3, 9.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.1 steals, 0.6 blocks, 3.1 TO

I’m not sure what to think about Stanley Johnson. Yes, he’s an incredibly gifted scorer, rebounder and athlete, but I feel like we may have another Arizona tweener on our hands. At the college level, his skills are perfectly suited for domination, but I’m not so sure how good of a fit he is in the pros. His handles are a work in progress, as is his shot. He’s definitely not tall enough to be a power forward in the NBA, so is he a 2 or a 3?

One thing you can’t deny about Johnson is his defense. Johnson’s skills defensively are outstanding, especially off the ball. He’s great at deflecting passes and smart enough to only gamble when he’s sure the end result will be a positive.

Potential Matchup to Watch: D’Angelo Russell vs. Stanley Johnson (Round of 32)

This matchup needs to happen. No, they wouldn’t be guarding each other, but a matchup of these 2 top-10 prospects would have fans and scouts jumping out of their seats, for obvious reasons.

Jahlil Okafor – Freshman, 6’11” Center, Duke

Per 40: 23.2 points on 67% shooting, 11.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.8 blocks, 1.0 steals, 3.4 TO

Jahlil Okafor was nearly consensus number one pick when this season began, but not anymore. His flaws defensively have led to him dropping, although he is still in the top 3 in most mock drafts. Okafor came into this season with massive expectations, and his offensive game hasn’t disappointed. Okafor isn’t the fastest or most athletic big in the draft, but both his footwork and touch are nearly perfect. His spin moves are as polished as you’ll find in college. When he’s being guarded one-on-one in the post, Okafor always seems to pull another move out of his arsenal of post moves, and before you know it he’s found a way to get to the rim.

Once he gets to the rim, it’s all but over. Okafor can finish at the rim like few others. He has the soft touch needed to finish layups in close, while also having the strength to dunk on guys if need be. Although his defense needs work, if you’re looking for a player who can contribute immediately on the offensive end, Okafor is your choice.

Potential Matchup to Watch: Jahlil Okafor vs. Georgetown’s Joshua Smith (Sweet 16)

Joshua Smith is a 6’10” load of a man. He’s a bully in the post, and uses his brute force to get whatever he wants down low. His per 40 numbers are strikingly similar to Okafor, and if this matchup happens, Okafor will have quite the challenge on his hands.


With every Wolves loss, the likelihood that one of the players above ends up on the Wolves increases. If you want an early peek at the future, you’re better off enjoying March Madness than watching Minnesota play out the last month of their turbulent and disappointing season.

Spurs Face Leftover Wolves in San Antonio #TexasToast

(photo credit: nba.com)

(photo credit: nba.com)

If you love basketball, I’d say it’s impossible to not be impressed by this Spurs team. While other teams are collecting superstars, the Spurs draft guys and put together a team that performs. They occasionally sign a free agent you may know, but it’s never the giant splash or giant trade that makes you notice San Antonio.

Instead, they just perform great team basketball. In a showy league, those boring Spurs just play basic basketball and win.

It will be very interesting to see what happens in the off-season for the Spurs, but until then, this team just keeps rolling.

For the Spurs, the starters tonight were Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, & Tiago Splitter. Kawhi made himself a household name in the last Finals, but it’s amazing to think that this set of names is a threat to repeat.

For the Wolves, injuries continue to be the story of the season. The Wolves started their 24th different lineup (credit @WolvesRadio) while big names Rubio, KG, & Pek sat out.

Even with the ideal starting lineup, winning in San Antonio is not easy feat (Wolves are 1-19 in last 20 according to the broadcast team).

The final result was never really much of a question. The final score of 97-123 isn’t a surprise, but this is definitely a building year. Tom Hanneman said it best, calling it “Texas Toast.”

The highlights tonight were plentiful:

  • The Youth Movement continues to get quality NBA action. #YoungGuns
  • Hamilton gets the start (showing this move happened just in time). #HamInItUp
  • Lavine nails a turnaround 3 as the clock expires in the first. #Baller
    Payne has a nice shake-and-back turnaround & made an awkward running rainbow. #Promise
  • Martin is showing his distance shooting is on. #Shooter
  • Wiggins is working hard every night. #ROY
  • Hamilton can pass, too #PaynefulSlam
  • Spurs did not reach their highest score of the season #3Short

The lowlights were easy to find:

  • Spurs make your defense look worse. #BlastWithThePass
  • Buddinger has almost disappeared. According to the broadcast, his last make before tonight’s 3 was Jan 31st! Yikes! His absence really hurts the development of the group in building a solid inside-out game. #MilkCarton
  • Martin blocked by Ginóbili? #NoCommentNeed
  • 2nd half starts with a turnover, then an and-one by Leonard #Ugh
  • The third quarter #Down20More

The Wolves will be back at it tomorrow. Grab your green and see you at Target Center! #CutDownTheNets