Recap – Pelicans 98, Timberwolves 91

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The Timberwolves entered Friday night’s game at 24-25 and are looking at the next four games before the all-star break as an opportunity to get a few games above the Mason-Dixon Line.  That sounds like a good plan, no?  The team traveled to New Orleans for Friday’s encounter with the 21-27 Pelicans.  While under .500 for the season overall, the Pelicans were 12-12 going into the action Friday night.

The Wolves got back a few starters after they missed Wednesday’s game, opening up with: Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love, and Turiaf.  Nikola Pekovic remains out with his injury.  The Pelicans are dealing with a slew of injuries of their own, but their starting lineup Friday night was: Brian Roberts, Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Anthony Davis, and Alexis Ajinca.  Added bonus for future trivia: tonight was the first game in the “Smoothie King Center”. Let’s just move on …

First Half 

Game got off to a slow start in the scoring department. As an added “bonus” for Wolves fans, Kevin Love seemed to tweak something early and looked slow and banged up. Going into the first timeout with just over 5 minutes left in the opening frame, the Pelicans held a 14-12 lead, led by the Unibrow, who got it going early with 8 points on 4-5 shooting. (Congrats to the ‘Brow on being named to the Western Conference All-Star team – more than deserved!)

Kevin Love picked up a quick second foul and that led to Dante Cunningham’s early arrival in the game. For the record, Love probably should have taken a seat when he couldn’t get past half court to play defense, but you know … Adelman. (I’m quickly turning to the dark side.) Before I get in trouble, the Wolves held a 26-25 lead over the Pelicans at the end of the quarter. Corey Brewer led the Pups with 9 points and creating chaos, including one of the ugliest fast-breaks you will ever see in NBA history; however, it ended with a Kevin Martin three pointer, so no complaints here.

The early minutes of the second quarter can be summarized with this:

It isn’t like we signed this guy to a new contract this past summer or anything, right? (Crickets) Beyond this little tidbit, the Wolves played a Pelicans-inspired slowed down pace, outscoring the home team 21-17 in the quarter and taking a 47-42 into the locker room.

Here are a few halftime thoughts:

  • Despite not scoring in 14 minutes of action, Dante Cunningham had a nice half of basketball with 4 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal
  • Kevin Love had 10 & 8 at the half and was solid offensively, but Anthony Davis led the Pelicans with 17 points at the same time – interesting match-up!
  • Ronny Turiaf – defensive presence!  (3 blocks by halftime!)

Second Half 

Despite Kevin Love looking like a broken body multiple times in the 3rd quarter, the Wolves played a solid final few minutes to increase their lead a bit.  Love was fouled (but not called) by Greg Stiemsma and looked like he was going to need to be scraped off the floor after a few attempts in the paint on the ensuing possession after not being able to get back on defense.  There is going to be a time when we are going to regret this.  However, it wasn’t through the third quarter, as the Wolves built a 71-61 lead going into the final frame.

All of the good from the 3rd quarter came to a screeching halt with the Pelicans going on a massive run to begin the 4th quarter, going up 78-77 – a 17-6 run before Adelman finally called a timeout.  The onslaught continued as the Pelicans poured it on in the 4th quarter, while the Wolves found ways to increase their deficit – bad defense, terrible shot selection, and overall bonehead play.  With about 2.5 minutes to go, the Pelicans held an 89-82 lead, outscoring the Pups 28-11 to this point in the quarter.  Let’s hit the fast forward button because nothing positive happened the rest of the way for our Pups.  They continued to fall flat on their face and wound up giving up 37 points in the 4th quarter, losing to the Pelicans, 98-91.

Three Stars of the Game

  1. Anthony Davis – great game for the ‘Brow, 26 & 10 and looked like a leader on the floor
  2. Eric Gordon – huge second half for Gordon, who finished with 20 points and it felt like he threw two or three daggers at the Wolves
  3. Kevin Love – who I am somewhat expecting to hear “trade request” from this all-star break.  26 & 18 for the starting PF in the Western Conference … 

Key Takeaways

  • The Wolves continue to shoot three pointers for no apparent reason other than “it’s flashy” … 4-17 in tonight’s game, including a 0-6 from Love.
  • Huge advantage for Minnesota at the FT line, going 31-37 on the evening, compared to NOLA’s 12-16.  Somehow, someway, the Wolves still managed to lose this game.
  • Ricky Rubio and Corey Brewer create havoc on both ends of the floor … however, their lack of fundamental defense (along with Kevin Martin’s lack of any defense) is killing this team.  This already feels like a very long second half of the season.

Minnesota Timberwolves 92 – New Orleans Hornets 104

We’re live from a couch in New Jersey for tonight’s game “recap”.  The Wolves finally play on a Friday night and it happens to come from one of my favorite cities in the US, New Orleans.  Throw in a week in Mexico City and we’ve decided to go with a running diary of tonight’s events.  Let us know what you think about this style of game recap as it is something I would be willing to do for future Friday night games.  As an added bonus, I’ll timestamp everything using the Central time zone.  “You’re welcome America!” – Will Ferrell

7:00pm (CT):  We’re live from the couch with our friend Arthur Guinness.  NBA LP is providing the Hornets/Pelicans broadcast, which allows me another opportunity to complain about how poor LP is relative to MLB.TV and the NFL’s Sunday Ticket.  MLB.TV allows you to pick the broadcast you want to listen to every night.  This really can’t happen for NBA LP?  What year is it again?

7:05: The Hornets broadcast highlights that their team is fully healthy tonight and they have everyone available.  Conversely, earlier tonight the Wolves reported that Lazar Hayward is also out with the flu and the team is down to 9 players for tonight’s game.  We’re probably two weeks away from plucking someone from the stands to play a few minutes.

7:09: Twolves starters = Ridnour, Shved, Kirilenko, Cunningham, and Pekovic.  Hornets starters = Vasquez, Gordon, Aminu, Davis, and Lopez.

7:11: Pekovic opens the game with a ridiculous up and under that falls for the big guy and gives the Twolves a 2-0 lead.  Don’t worry I have no intention of recapping every point.

7:12: Pekovic is off to a huge start with three straight baskets against Lopez and we’ll probably see Anthony Davis move over to guard him in a few seconds.  Wolves lead 6-0.

7:14: The Hornets broadcast cover the Wolves’ injuries and is going in depth on Brandon Roy.  “Hi Arthur, how are you this evening?”

7:15: AK47 with four straight points via running the baseline and we have our first timeout of the game with the Pups up 13-9.

7:20: Real sloppy basketball for the past few minutes, followed by a couple of nice passes from Shved and Ridnour on the break leading to two FT’s for Kirilenko.  Who bricks the first and makes the second.  Wolves go up 16-9.

7:22: Shved with another nice pass to Pekovic for another bucket in the paint.

7:23: All 2,000 Hornets fans in the building didn’t like the foul called on Gordon against Pekovic.  That puts the Hornet in the penalty already and the Wolves up 20-9.

7:26: The Hornets finally score a bucket, breaking a 16-0 run by the Wolves, who hold a 25-11 lead going into the second timeout of the game.

7:29: Hornets broadcast shows Café du Monde coming back from a commercial break, immediately reminding me that I need to get back to New Orleans sooner rather than later.  If you haven’t been there … go!

7:34: At the end of the first quarter, the Pups lead by 15 points, 29-14.  That was a very ugly quarter from the Pelicans who turned the ball over way too much and gave up way too many points in the paint.

7:37: Derrick Williams just made a double pump layup driving to the basket off of a Rubio behind the back pass.  Read that sentence again and let’s hope that happens a lot over the next few weeks.

7:39: DWill!  That was his third basket in a row and goes to the line to make it a three point play.  The Wolves lead 36-19 and this diary may become a superstition for Friday games if this keeps up.

7:41: Jason Smith just leveled Rubio on a pick and just became the number one villain in the NBA … for at least a few hours.

19412_10151252295419261_1053462112_n7:44: Andre Kirilenko just faked Anthony Davis out of the gym for an easy bucket.  Beautiful post move there from AK47.

7:48: Anthony Davis tried to dunk the ball from about seven feet away and gets called for an offensive foul.  Yikes.

7:50: The Hornets are on a little bit of a run, cutting the lead to 13 points, 39-26, with a fast break layup leading to a Twolves timeout.

7:55: The Hornets continue their run before Pekovic gets an easy basket in the paint.  The Wolves lead 41-32.

8:02: At halftime, the Wolves lead 46-40 after a sloppy second quarter with too many turnovers.  I’m not sure what happened, but it seemed like Porter lost track of DWill on the bench after a very nice stint on the floor early in the second quarter.

8:17: We’re back for the second half!

8:18: The Hornets score the first four of the half and have the lead down to two.  Ugh!

8:21: Luke Ridnour just pulled up for a three pointer on the break and threw up an air ball.  Side note: I just did a few 12 ounce curls to finish my halftime workout.

8:24: Thankfully, Eric Gordon is still a little rusty and is missing a number of open looks.

8:25: With that said, the Hornets still tie the game at 50, leading to a Pups timeout.

8:31: We have the first lead of the night for the Hornets, 57-56.  Consider this your warning for the rest of the diary, as things could get ugly here.

8:33: Obviously, I hope everything is OK with Adelman’s wife and his personal life, but please return as soon as you can.  Terry Porter sitting on the bench throws his legs up in the air and yells at his players from his seat as Ryan Anderson flails his arms and gets a tip-in layup, giving the Hornets a 64-58 lead.

8:39: Dear Ricky Rubio, please start looking to take a jump shot a lot more often.

8:41: At the end of another abysmal third quarter from the Wolves, the Hornets lead 70-61.  Yes, that is a 27 point swing in this game.  (Walks to refrigerator…)

8:42: Apparently “The Rock” has a new movie coming out soon, as they just aired a WWE commercial coming to the New Orleans area with Dwayne in the promotion.

8:46: AK47 just drove to the lane and tried to windmill dunk over Jason Smith and missed.  However, he got the foul called and made them both.  The Wolves are still down 76-65.

8:48: Shved holding his arm after being fouled on the fast break as the game goes to a timeout.  At this point, they could announce “bone chips in his elbow, will not return” after the commercial break and I wouldn’t be surprised.

8:51: Shved is alive and makes both free throws to cut the lead to 9 points.  Let’s go Wolves!!

8:52: Why do arenas still play Kris Kross’ “Jump” going into jump balls?  There really hasn’t been a song since 1992 that is more or of equal fitting?

8:55: Driving DWill is much more appealing when compared to jump shooting DWill.

8:56: I’ll say it – Greg Stiemsma has been regressing since the third week of the season and looks awful these days.

9:00: Ridnour just launched a three pointer in transition, missed it, and then picked up a dumb foul on Jason Smith on the rebound, putting New Orleans in the bonus on the next foul.

9:07: The Pups cannot hit a three pointer to save their lives (2-16 for the game at this point).

9:08: Ridnour throws the ball away and seals the fate of this game with two minutes to go with the Hornets up 15.

9:10: Naturally, Ridnour just hit a three pointed to cut the lead to 10, which is virtually meaningless in the grand scheme of things (unless he gets hot over the next week).

9:12: Kirilenko hits another, meaningless three pointer for the Wolves.

9:13: Ridnour increases his shooting percentage as the buzzer sounds, but the Wolves lose in New Orleans 104-92.

This was a terrible loss for the team.  I can’t use injuries as an excuse anymore because the team is going to be dealing with significant injuries for the next two months.  For the first time this season, and note that I have missed the last few games, I don’t believe the Pups will make the playoffs this season.  There has to be a point where you say “mercy” on the injuries and I think that time has come.

Three Stars of the Game:

  1. Greivis Vasquez – 18 points and 13 assists.  The Hornets broadcast pushed for his candidacy for ‘Most Improved Player’ in the NBA and I have a hard time finding a rebuttal.
  2. Al-Farouq Aminu – 12 points and 13 rebounds to go with quick hands and athleticism.  He really outplayed AK47 tonight.
  3. Nikola Pekovic – 18 points for the Wolves and really just gets the nod because no one really stood out for either team in this game beyond Vasquez and Aminu.