Timberpups Weekly Preview 2014 – Week 5

Setting the stage:

It’s already Week 5, and the Timberwolves stand No. 10 in the competitive Western Conference with an 8-7 record.  Minnesota’s record doesn’t seem to accurately reflect its performance, as the Wolves care currently averaging an impressive 106.9 points per game. In scoring, they hold onto their No. 3 spot in the NBA, coming in behind Houston and the LA Clippers, respectively. The Timberwolves enter the fourth week of the season with an impressive 7-4 record.  As of Monday morning, the team fell to 6th place in the league for rebounds and assists.

Kevin Love delivered a disappointing performance against the Clips on Wednesday, but the All-Star forward returned to form later in the week and continues to average 28 points and 13.6 rebounds per game.

Ricky Rubio upholds his reputation for assists, dishing out an average of 8.7 passes a game, and he is also stepping up his defensive game tremendously this season. Currently, the point guard leads the NBA with an average of three steals per contest.

JJ Barea delivered less-than-impressive stats last week. If Barea doesn’t show more consistency on the floor, it will be tough to give Rubio any real relief. For Minnesota to be successful this week, the 6’0” PG needs to step up his game and be a stronger teammate on the floor.

Week 5 is a lighter week with only three games, but it feels just as rigorous with two of those games being on the road. The Timberwolves will face the No. 1 team in the league on Monday evening, and it will be a good test of their mental toughness. On Wednesday, Corey Brewer will face his old teammates during a home stand at the Target Center. Here are a few thoughts for each game this week.

(photo credit: zimbio.com)

(photo credit: zimbio.com)

Game 16: Monday, 11/25 – Timberwolves @ Indiana Pacers (TV: FS North)

The Timberwolves will certainly have a challenging contest ahead of them when they face the 12-1 Indiana Pacers on the road. Indiana currently holds the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference, standing two games over Miami. Indiana is 19-4 overall when hosting Minnesota at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Opponent to watch:

Paul George – George has been an unstoppable force this season, averaging 24 points per game this year. Historically, George averaged only 15 PPG against the Wolves. Minnesota will focus a lot of defensive effort against the 6’9” SF.

Predictions:

Both teams are averaging high point totals this season. Although Minnesota holds a nine-point average advantage, the Pacers play tough defense and have been holding opponents to under 90 points thus far. The Wolves have struggled a bit on the road this season, and Indiana will be their toughest opponent this week.  Final score: Pacers 101, Timberwolves 93

 

Game 17: Wednesday, 11/27, 7pm – Denver Nuggets @ Timberwolves (TV: FSN Plus)

Timberwolves will look forward to this home rematch against Denver Wednesday night. On Nov. 15, Minnesota landed on the short end of the 117-113 final score at the Pepsi Center. It proved to be a hard-fought battle of the offenses, but in the end it was the Nuggets 64 points in the paint that sealed the deal. Denver holds a .500 record at this point in the season, standing two spots behind Minnesota in the Western Conference.

Opponent to watch:

Wilson Chandler – Although Chandler comes off the bench for Denver, he often finds a way to make an impact. The SF tallied 19 points against Minnesota in their first meeting, and he’s also a quick weapon on defense.

Predictions:

I think we can count on Corey Brewer to lead the Wolves defensively Wednesday night. The forward has had a great season thus far, and he won’t want to fall to his former team at home. If our big men deliver a strong performance, this game should be a win for Minnesota.  Final score: Timberwolves 110, Nuggets  101

 

Game 18: Saturday, 11/30, 7:30pm – Timberwolves @ Dallas Mavericks (TV: FS North)

At 9-5, the Mavericks have a solid season going so far. They’ve admittedly had an easier schedule, though, and the Timberwolves beat them 116-108 on Nov. 8. Dallas is averaging 47 percent from the floor, and their free throw performance as a team has struggled. Against Minnesota, the Mavericks hit less than 70 percent of their attempted free throws.

Last season, Dallas averaged 100 points against the Wolves. Adelman and his team will have to come out tough defensively to keep their opponents’ top scorers in check—especially on the road.

Opponent to watch:

Dirk Nowitzki – I don’t think anyone has told Nowitzki that he’s 35 years old. As one of the oldest players currently in the NBA, the 7’0” PF doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Nowitzki leads his team in scoring, averaging 22 PPG over 14 games.

Predictions:

Dallas certainly has some major threats on offense, but it’s nothing Minnesota can’t handle. Kevin Love will be an effective matchup against Nowitzki, and Kevin Martin should be an even match against the Mav’s second threat, Monta Ellis. Final score: Timberwolves 115, Mavericks 112

 

Wrap-up:

Thanksgiving week will prove a tiring one for Minnesota as it’s on the road for 2 of 3 games. If the Timberwolves can come away with an equal number of wins, we won’t have anything to complain about.

Recap – Timberwolves 111, Nets 81

Friday night's "Battle of the Kevin's" at Target Center (Photo credit: Timberwolves.com)

Friday night’s “Battle of the Kevin’s” at Target Center
(Photo credit: Timberwolves.com)

The Timberwolves were back on the Target Center floor Friday night and welcomed in a few familiar faces, as Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko returned to Minnesota with their Brooklyn Nets teammates.  Kirilenko was ruled out because of another problem with his back, while the Nets were also missing Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, and Jason Terry.  It hasn’t been a fun start to the season for Nets fans, that’s for sure.

There were no surprises or changes in the Pups’ starting five – Mr. Selena Gomez (I kid), Martin, Brewer, Love, and Pekovic.  The Nets threw out Shaun Livingston (who has been quite the story), Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, KG, and Reggie Evans.

Game Summary

Despite falling way behind (2-0), the Timberwolves pulled out Friday night’s game against a beaten down Brooklyn Nets team.  With an 11-6 lead going into the first timeout of the game, the Wolves woke up and played lights out basketball for the rest of the night.  This was a laugher by midway through the third quarter, with the Wolves winning by a cool 30 points.

First Half 

You really couldn’t ask for a better storybook opening, as KG won the tap and posted up Kevin Love in the paint.  He quickly turned around and hit the short jumper to give the Nets the 2-0 lead.  That concludes all Nets highlights from the first half, as the Timberwolves poured it on.  Despite two quick fouls and a trip to the bench for Ricky Rubio, the Pups were able to jump on the Nets early and often.  The game got off to a slow start offensively, as the Wolves held an 11-6 lead going into the first timeout of the game … after six-plus minutes of action.

At the end of the 1st quarter, the Wolves held a 30-14 lead, as Love hit a short jumper at the buzzer after JJ Barea drove to the basked as the clock wound down, lost control of the ball and flipped it behind his back, only to find Love’s hands.  Love finished the quarter with 9 points and 11 rebounds.  Again, we’re talking about the 1st quarter only.

The good times continued to roll for the Pups throughout much of the 2nd quarter.  Barea and Rubio both played well and ran Adelman’s offense.  Love and Nikola Pekovic were dominant in the paint.  Had the Wolves’ wings shot the ball a little bit better, the game would have looked even worse than the halftime score would suggest.  At the break, the Wolves held a 57-37 advantage at halftime.

Here are a few additional notes at half-time:

  • Kevin Martin’s shooting is a little off this past week.  At halftime, Martin was 2-11 from the field for 6 points
  • Corey Brewer also put up 11 shots in the first half, including 5 three pointers.  Honestly, that might be a bit too much
  • KG finished the half with 6 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block – old-school KG in the house!

Second Half

We’re going to make this really easy – the Nets never made the game interesting and the Wolves blew away Brooklyn.  With the starters playing throughout the 4th quarter – more on this later – the Pups simply ran away.  They outscored the Nets 33-21 in the quarter and took a 90-58 lead into the 4th quarter.

After some Twitter pleading, Adelman finally went to his bench (read: doghouse) and put in Derrick Williams, Alexey Shved, and company.  Gorgui Dieng looked the most promising in the 4th quarter, blocking three shots and active on the offensive end of the floor as well (5 points & 3 rebounds).  The final score in this monstrosity of a game was 111-81.

Three Stars of the Game

  1. Kevin Love – Dominant on the boards, Love finished with 17 and 16 in only 28 minutes of action.
  2. Nikola Pekovic – 15 & 7 for the big man, who really dominated the paint early and often.
  3. Kevin Garnett – This should go to Brewer, but just in case this is KG’s last game at Target Center, his 8 & 8 put him in our “Three Stars”.

Need another reason, here you go:

Key Takeaways

  • The Nets had a lot of injuries, but that was an effortless showing.  Jason Kidd probably won’t be fired this season, but he probably deserves to be.  This team has “Washington Redskins” written all over it – big contracts, no continuity … changes every single season.
  • Hopefully Kevin Martin’s shooting comes back real soon … as in, tomorrow in Houston soon.
  • The rest the starters received tonight should bode well for tomorrow’s game – thankfully they didn’t have to play big minutes going into a relatively big game tomorrow night (on NBA TV).

Recap – Nuggets 117, Timberwolves 113

 

Nuggets ... Wolves ... Manimal vs. Love (Photo credit: NBA.com)

Nuggets … Wolves … Manimal vs. Love
(Photo credit: NBA.com)

The Timberwolves hit the road Friday night for a nationally televised game in Denver against the Nuggets.  The ESPN broadcast team spent a minute or two talking about the Wolves’ hot starts to games thus far this season.  So you could have assumed how this game started, the complete opposite.  Thank you Breen and Barry!

Kevin Martin returned from a bout with the flu and rejoined the starting lineup, along with Rubio, Brewer, Love and Pekovic.  Brian Shaw tinkered with the Nuggets starting lineup on Friday going with Ty Lawson, Randy Foye, Jordan Hamilton, Kenneth Faried, and JJ Hickson.  Insert your Randy Foye jokes here:

 

Game Summary

Wolves first game on national TV this season ended in a loss, thereby negating the above tweet and providing me with bad karma thoughts all over the place.  I’ll remain quiet about tomorrow’s game at Target Center against the Celtics.  Tonight’s game in Denver just felt underwhelming … which makes 0 sense given the final score of 117-113.  A few, good individual performances from the Pups, but not enough to bring home the W.  Let’s take a deeper look …

First Half 

Thanks to the kiss of death from Breen and Barry, the Nuggets jumped out to a 6-0 lead.  The Wolves quickly fought back however, led by a quick five assists from Ricky Rubio.  Rubio assisted on five of the Wolves first seven baskets and gave his team their first lead, 15-14.  Whatever Brian Shaw said in the huddle worked, as the Nuggets had an impressive rest of the quarter, taking a 35-26 lead at the end of the first twelve minutes.  That was largely due to the surprising, impressive play of JJ Hickson.

After the Nuggets scored the first five points of the quarter, the Timberwolves found themselves down by 15 points.  Rather than rolling over, the team gathered themselves and began an impressive run, led by the starting unit, minus Rubio and with JJ Barea.  I’m not sure what this means, but we had two JJ’s going off on the same night and neither really would have been your choice for player of the game before the opening tip.

In the last few minutes of the quarter, Kevin Martin came alive (again) and led the Wolves all the way back to take a lead at halftime, 60-56.  Here are a few additional notes at half-time:

  • Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love had a rock solid first half, combining for 25 points and 9 rebounds … but it was done “quietly” somehow
  • Rubio finished the half with 0 points and 9 assists – very excited about the passing, not thrilled at all about the 0-3 from the field
  • Following up on the Randy Foye joke – 0-3 from the field, and a game low -9 on the +/- scale … predictable

Second Half

The seesaw battle continued into the third, with the Nuggets dominating much of the quarter.  Through the first four minutes, the Wolves had one bucket … albeit a thunderous dunk by Corey Brewer.  Unfortunately, you don’t get style points in the NBA … yet, but who knows what Adam Silver has up his sleeve.

The Pups continued to turn the ball over (15 through three quarters in total), which allowed the Nuggets to increase their lead back to nine points.  With about 90 seconds to go in the quarter, the visitors made a small spurt to cut the lead to 86-81 at the end of three quarters, as Barea hit a fading jumper that rattled around the rim approximately seven times before falling through the net as the clock expired.

The resiliency in the Wolves continued to breakthrough in the fourth quarter as well.  Surprise, surprise, but the teams went punch for punch in the final frame as well.  The Nuggets built a thirteen point lead about halfway through the quarter and back came the Wolves again.  The Kevin’s and Corey led the charge, cutting it all the way down to a two point game after a three pointer from Love.

Unfortunately for the Wolves, they couldn’t get over the hurdle and fell short in Denver.  There were a few questionable calls/no-calls in the final minute, but this is a young team that is going to have to earn the respect of the officials.  Essentially, what Adelman said earlier in the week about being under the radar and not having earned anything yet came to fruition tonight.

A hard fought game but the Nuggets knock off the Wolves, 117—113.

Three Stars of the Game

  1. Wilson Chandler – He didn’t have the most appealing box score, but Chandler knocked down open jumpers and led the Nuggets with 19 points, on 6-9 shooting.
  2. Kenneth Faried – 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Manimal, who shot 8-12 for the field.  Someone on the Wolves needed to commit a hard foul during this game and it didn’t happen.
  3. JJ Barea – Barea was a sparkplug off the bench tonight, keeping the Pups in the game.  He threw in 4 assists and 4 rebounds and helped mount most of the charges the team made.  

Key Takeaways

  • Rubio must make open jumpers for this team.  Opponents will continue to go under screens and he is going to have to start taking and making these shots.  As mentioned before the season, and mentioned by Barry tonight on the broadcast, this team could be really special if he makes the leap, and his jump shooting is preventing said leap.
  • Until the fourth quarter, Kevin Love was playing well but really not making a lot of noise.  Expectations are pretty high for a guy that throws up 28 and 10 and you don’t bat an eye.  Fair or unfair?

Game Notes:

Robbie Hummel played 13 minutes tonight while DWill, Shabazz, and Shved all received DNP-CD’s.  I have no idea what these three are (not) doing in practice, but it can’t be appealing on the eyes.

Wolves are back at it tomorrow night at the Target Center against the Celtics.

Recap – Timberwolves 124, Cavs 95

 

Corey Brewer got the Timberwolves off to a strong start & they never looked back! (Photo credit: Timberwolves Facebook page)

Corey Brewer got the Timberwolves off to a strong start & they never looked back!
(Photo credit: Timberwolves Facebook page)

For the second and last time this season, the Timberwolves played the Cavs Wednesday night at the Target Center.  The Cavs edged the Wolves on their home court a week and a half ago.  To make Wednesday night’s game a little bit tougher, Kevin Martin came down with the flu and was a late scratch for the Pups.  With that announcement, the starting lineup looked like this: Rubio, Hummel, Brewer, Love, and Pekovic.  For the Cavs, no real surprises: Irving, Waiters, Gee, Thompson, and Varejao.

Game Summary

I’m taking a page out of Zach’s playbook for the overall Game Summary, as this wasn’t very close just a few minutes after the opening tipoff …

 

First Half 

Once again, the Timberwolves opened up strong.  Corey Brewer scored the first 9 points of the game for the Pups and they were off and running.  Ricky Rubio and Kyrie Irving seemed to go back and forth with one another on dribble drives … with Rubio creating for his teammates and Irving trying to shoulder the scoring load.  Note the word “trying” here, as the Wolves continued to put points on the board and pressure on the Cavs.

With a little under 5 minutes to go in the first quarter, Kyrie took what appeared to be an elbow to the cheek from Brewer, who was sweeping in for an attempted layup.  Kyrie went down and checked out of the game.  This led to a significant run from the Wolves, including a second three point field goal from Robbie Hummel.  At the end of the first quarter, the Wolves held a 38-24 lead.

The Wolves kept the pressure on throughout the second quarter.  This time, it was Kevin Love who was doing a lot of the damage.  Love put in 11 of his 19 first half points in the second quarter, continuing to get the charity stripe.  While Irving returned to the floor, it felt like the damage was already done.  At half-time, the Wolves held a commanding 70-47 lead.

Half-time notes:

  • During the 2nd quarter, Benz and Peterson talked about a little bit of news in that there is a bit of a hope that Chase Budinger could return by the time Christmas rolls around.  (Fingers crossed)
  • Every Wolves player that entered the game in the first half had a double digit + in the +/- box score at halftime.
  • Bored with a big lead?  Yes!  So bored in fact, I wound up putting together a mini-post in the Forum for Derrick Williams trade ideas, including running the Trade Machine for an updated deal for Evan Turner.

Second Half

I’m not going to lie, the 3rd quarter was amazing for the Timberwolves, but also wound up leading to a lot of looking around and fishing for some bit of news.  The Wolves completely dominated the Cavs again in the quarter, outscoring the Cavs 38-29 and building their lead to 108-76 … at the end of only THREE quarters.  What more do you really want me to say?  If you happened to miss last night’s performance, go watch a replay.  If the Wolves have an off night over the course of the next week or two, revert back to this game.  Zach sums things up pretty nicely here:

As one would expect, Rick Adelman sent in the reserves to play the 4th quarter, with AJ Price, Alexey Shved, Shabazz Muhammad, Derrick Williams, and Gorgui Dieng in it for the long haul (or those 12 minutes).  Naturally, this puts Williams at the PF position, thereby proving (again) that we aren’t even going to try with the SF experiment … because it isn’t going to work.  You know what, I’m just going to end that here as it isn’t the right night.

The reserves did not play well, but largely maintained the advantage that the regular rotation had built in the first three quarters.  The Cavs outscored the Wolves 19-16 in the quarter.  Williams and Dieng looked relatively good down low, but the guard/wing play wasn’t very strong.  Shved hit on the Wolves final shot of the game and hopefully that is something to build off of.  ?

Mercifully, this one ended with the Wolves moving to 6-3 on the season and a final score of 124-95.

Three Stars of the Game

  1. Corey Brewer – Beyond opening up the game with the team’s first nine points, Brewer was awesome!  27 points on 10-17 shooting, which includes a 5-5 from beyond the arc.  Perfect time to step up, given Kevin Martin’s absence.
  2. Ricky Rubio – It is Ricky Rubio’s world and we are just living in it.  16 points, 16 assists, and 6 rebounds.  I’m not even going to try to describe how amazing he was with the ball in his hands Wednesday night.
  3. Kevin Love – His double-double streak ended, but I am going to assume that isn’t going to be the headline from the game.  Love finished with a cool 33 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists.

 Key Takeaways

  • This Wolves team is really exciting to watch.  However, there are still major concerns about the bench play beyond the 7 man rotation (which would contain Cunningham and Barea)
  • The Cavs are a mess and I don’t see how people view them as an up and coming team.  They have one really good player and that’s about all.
  • Good teams have players step up when adversity hits.  A golf clap goes towards Corey Brewer for his offensive game today in Martin’s absence.

Game Notes:

Shabazz Muhammad went 0-4 from the field for 0 points and 4 rebounds on his birthday.  (There is a rookie hazing comment here somewhere, right?)

Attendance for the game tonight was reported at 14,978.  Let’s see if that can go over 15,000 for a Saturday night game and coming off of this impressive victory.  (That was a challenge fans)

 

Week Three, Part Two: Cleveland Cavaliers

The Minnesota Timberwolves split the Staples Center Series and are back in action tonight facing the Cleveland Cavaliers at home in the friendly confines of Target Center.

Here are things, they’re for you.

I spoke with David Zavac, editor of Fear The Sword – A Cleveland Cavaliers Community, on yesterday’s Break The Huddle Show with John Meyer from The Daily Wolf and Billy Bohl of A Wolf Among Wolves. Here’s a link to yesterday’s show! (we experienced issues yesterday, so it’s only audio for the first 10:30).

Break the Huddle Show — 11/12.

There’s a great Q&A with Zavac that begins at the halfway point, 30:00 in.

Mr. Bohl and I host this hour long segment to talk about the Wolves every Tuesday, you can follow the show on Twitter -@BTH_Show- where we’ll promote for you guys to call in, ask questions and discuss random nonsense in a segment that’s fun for listeners of all ages.

PHEW, now that I’m out of the Promotion Ocean — we can continue. Read more about the meeting earlier this season between the Wolves and the Cavs, here.

  • Bynum is out for tonight because of family matters. This leaves Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett, Anderson Varejao, and Tristan Thompson to make up for Bynums surprising productivity so far this season
  • Kyrie Irving had 19, 8 assists and 9 turnovers — the Cavs coughed the ball up 20 times
  • C.J. Miles went crazy, he’s the reason the Wolves lost and I’m convinced of it — won’t go on longer

Moving onto Friday.

The Wolves head to Denver to take on the struggling Nuggets.

  • Corey Brewer, who goes into tonight’s game leading the league in fastbreak points per game, played 82 games for Denver last season — he only started once. Brewer has started every game thus far as a Timberpup.
  • The Nuggets are 2 and 4 this season and are at home tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers.
  • George Karl, despite being awarded Coach of the Year honors last season, is no longer employed as Head Coach — a puzzling scenario to say the least.
  • Will the Nuggets have the one known as “The Manimal,” Kenneth Faried? Faried is averaging 11 points and 9 rebounds in Denver so far this season, but rumors surfaced today he may be involved in a trade that would send him to the New York KNicks.

News happens fast, so naturally after nearly publishing this post — I found this.

 

WHO KNOWS ANYTHING ANYMORE?!?!

I’ll talk to you guys again on Friday.

Tonight’s game will be aired on FSN North, 7:00 CST. You’ll also be able to hear it on the radio by tuning into WCCO’s 830, Alan Horton (@WolvesRadio) will have the call.

 

Also, a Happy Birthday to Mark Remme and Shabazz Muhammad!

Zach.

Wolves Clipped by Clippers, 107-109

For the second time this season the Minnesota Timberwolves watched a shot fall-short that would have won, or tied, the game at the buzzer. The loss, though tough to swallow, doesn’t prevent Earth from continuing to spin. In yesterday’s recap I used the term fatalism; the belief that what will happen has already been decided and cannot be changed, and unfortunately, it’s what we may have seen in Staples Center last night. However, there’s still plenty season remaining and the Wolves have made it clear they’ve arrived as a legitimate threat in the Western Conference. The game was the second straight sellout, in back-to-back nights, in Los Angeles. Not bad for a small market franchise from the midwest.

BREWERDUDLEY

Brewer drives by Jared Dudley, both wearing the NBA issued headbands worn over the weekend and Monday night in honor of Veteran’s Day

First Half

Compared to Sunday’s meeting with the Lakers Monday’s opening quarter was frustrating although the Wolves led the Clippers at the end of the first; 26-23. Blake Griffin led all scorers with 11 points and it was apparent he was going to be allowed to shoot the 15 foot jumpers facing the basket, he was defended by Nikola Pekovic and not Kevin Love — the Wolves sacrificed strength for speed guarding the Clippers’ high-flying forward. Love and Kevin Martin, Team Kevin, scored seven point each, Ricky Rubio scored two points and had as many assist to go along with three points from Corey Brewer and five from Pek. It was a balanced effort showing Rick Adelman’s Princeton offense is starting to operate on all cylinders.

The starting unit this season has been remarkable and entered last night’s game scoring 80 percent of the team’s points, they needed to bail out the bench -again- Monday. Love, who played just over seven minutes in the first, played eight-and-half during the second quarter and scored nine points. Pek lumbered his big body around for over 10 minutes in the first, but did his heavy lifting over second minutes in the second — scoring 12 points on 5 of 5 from the field and 2 of 3 from the free-throw line. However the Clippers balanced scoring came to life, by halftime, every player that stepped on the floor before halftime had scored; the home team led at the half, 59-58.

First Half Notes

  • The Clippers bench outscored the Wolves 21-10
  • Rubio had only two points, but had five assists
  • Love, Martin and Pek scored 43 of the team’s 58

Second Half

The Clippers expanded their halftime lead in the third by outscoring the Wolves, 26-22. Griffin added 10 to his total and Paul showcased his midrange game after fancy crossovers that, although Rubio defended well, were just too much for the 23 year old to handle. At the end of the third quarter the deficit had grown to five, the resilience of the starting unit was keeping it close — the bench failed to score in the opening period of the second half.

Blake Griffin and Kevin Love   are two players that make Clippers-Wolves one of the NBA's most exciting new rivalries.

Blake Griffin and Kevin Love are two players that make Clippers-Wolves one of the NBA’s most exciting new rivalries.

Martin was relatively quiet in the first half and went to charity stripe only four times thus far. He matched that output in final quarter and made good on all four attempts, asserting himself offensively during the game’s final minutes. The lack of productivity from the bench was taking it’s toll on the starters, Rubio failed to record a rebound in the second half, scored zero points in the final quarter but -as only he can- found a way to distribute four assists down the stretch. Love despite dominating the boards, snagging eight rebounds, scored only two points in the final quarter. The Wolves, again, had a chance to run a play with a chance to win on the road. Here’s a breakdown.

Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 2.03.39 PM

 Martin throws the ball in to Love from the far sideline, Love sets a screen on Matt Barnes and hands it back to Martin who dribbles to his left toward the top of the key. Because it’s this late in the game, the Clippers will undoubtedly switch on the pick-n-roll — leaving DeAndre Jordan to defend the smaller, quicker Martin.

Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 2.07.09 PM

Here, Martin can either pull up from behind the three-point line and go for the win if Jordan decides to sag and defend against dribble-penetration. Martin chooses to continue driving to his left, that’s the side of the court he’s most comfortable shooting the ball.

Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 2.10.19 PM

The play is well defended, Jordan recovers well and Martin is forced to shoot an awkward jumper; however, Pek has bullied Griffin almost completely under the basket Love is crashing the boards with the smaller Barnes on his hip. This puts both players in position to obtain the offensive rebound.

 Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 2.14.19 PM

Pek gets the offensive board because of his positioning, has a look at a baby hook to win the game. Barnes instinctively jumps to defend the shot, Love slips behind him toward the rim in front of Paul.

Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 2.17.44 PM

THIS, THIS IS HOW CLOSE THE WOLVES WERE TO SENDING THE GAME TO OVERTIME. Love’s putback sits on the rim for what felt like an eternity before falling off in the Clippers favor.

“When Kevin [Martin] had shot the ball, I knew we had 11 seconds left. Pek got the rebound, shot it up, so my natural instinct was to try and rush and put it up there. It sat on the rim and, like I said, 99 times out of 100 times, that goes in.” – Love said after the game.

He told fans the same thing he told his teammates just moments after the buzzer rang at Staples.

As he walked toward the bench, Love smiled. Despite the outcome, the game was fun — the Wolves have no reason to hang their head after this one, well, the starters don’t anyway.

 

Three Stars (Do we include Clippers players? I’m new at this)

  1. Nikola Pekovic – Pek scored 25, his highest output of the season, on 11 of 15 shooting and had 10 rebounds.
  2. Kevin Love – Mr. Double-Double scored 23 and grabbed 19 rebounds, he has a double-double through every game this season
  3. Blake Griffin – Silently matching Love’s scoring output with 25 points on 11 of 22 shooting in addition to 10 rebounds. He had zero turnovers.

The Wolves have today off but face the Cavs tomorrow at home. More on that one to come.

Wolves at Clippers: A Preview Featuring Trisity Miller

As promised in yesterday’s weekly preview Trisity Miller (@Trisity_) joins the PupsBlog for some insight on tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Miller is a Staff Writer as well as Editor of FullyClips.com, THE Clippers Blog of Sports Illustrated’s Fansided Network. She had me answer of few of her questions on the Clipper site, read them here.
Ricky Rubio drives passed Clippers center DeAndre Jordan

Ricky Rubio drives passed Clippers center DeAndre Jordan

Here’s a few notes.

  • Doc Rivers is now head coach, he’s called for the removal of Laker banners in the Staples Center during Clipper home games.

“This is our arena when we play,” when asked about the banners. “So I just thought it would be good that we show our guys. No disrespect to them (Lakers). But when we play, it’s the Clippers’ arena as far as I know.”

  • The Clippers offense ranks first in the league in points per game — they’re piling 110 on their opponents
  • The Wolves played last night, the Clips didn’t, we’ll see how playing on back-to-back nights affects them despite not having to travel between games.

Here’s a few questions I asked Miller via Email.

How, if it’s possible, do you stop the Clippers?
Slow the pace down and make them beat you in the half-court. Judging a team based on their performance against the defending champions in Miami isn’t smart, but it revealed a lot of holes in this team. Scoring and defending in the half-court is their biggest weakness as it has been for the past two years. Improvement is happening due to Doc Rivers putting his touch on the offense. Also getting Jordan, Paul or Griffin is one heck of a way to slow this team down. Neither have replacements that can come in and keep up wait they started. That’s a huge change compared to last season.
What, if any, are Chris Paul’s weaknesses?
Knowing when to cut the scoring switch on. I don’t like to call him a pass-first point guard like Ricky Rubio and he definitely isn’t a score-first point like a Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook. He sits somewhere in the middle. But there are moments where the Clippers need a guy to take over the game. We saw him do it against Houston and Golden State. The Clippers needed that Chris Paul last night. Once he figures that out he’ll be as sound a player as there is in the league.
How does having Hall of Fame coach Doc Rivers chance the attitude in the locker room compared to last season?
On the outside looking in, this group seems to take more pride in what they’re doing now. The fun is still there, but there’s now a sense of knowing now is the time for the Clippers to win. The biggest change is the approach that DeAndre Jordan is taking to the game. He’s coming along on the defensive end, but there’s a change in the way he’s taken to being the defensive leader of this team. A sense of entitlement and a dose of confidence is what I’m seeing, something that Vinny Del Negro never helped him develop. He’s taking responsibility when the good and bad happens and knows that without quality defense from him his team can’t contend late into June.
What were expectations for offseason acquisition J.J. Redick prior to the season? Is he meeting, exceeding or below them at this point?
Redick was expected to come in and provide a dimension to the Los Angeles Clippers that the shell of Chauncey Billups couldn’t add. And he’s blown those expectations out of the water. For years all we as fans wanted from J.J. Redick was to see him on a team that wasn’t a bottom-dweller. Now that he’s on a championship contending team everyone sees why people felt that way. His shooting alone is a dynamic that helps those around him, but his off-the-ball work is what makes him a step up from being “just a shooter”. Most shooters you don’t want dribbling the ball. Redick’s the opposite as he’s an underrated pick-and-roll player and passer. And defensively he’s a million times better than Billups. Come playoff time defenses are going to absolutely loath him.
How good would Jamal Crawford fit on the Wolves? Or is Kevin Martin doing a good enough from from your perspective?
Crawford would fit well in a reserve role while Kevin Martin meshes perfectly with the Minny starters. Martin’s ability to move off the ball, draw fouls at a reasonable rate and knock down the three-pointer is something Wolves fans will love. Crawford is a frustrating player to watch all while being enjoyable at the same time, similar to J.R. Smith but without the shenanigans. The isolations are cool to watch, but Crawford often struggles to realize that there’s a time and a place to do that.
If you’re starting a franchise, do you pick Kevin Love or Blake Griffin as your power forward?
As much as Blake Griffin has improved this isn’t even close. I’m going with Kevin Love. There was once a point where I got a David Lee-esque feel from KL, but he’s blown that comparison out of the water. I will say this. Neither are bad options, but looking at Love’s skill set and where the NBA is currently heading a big that can hit the boards like no other and spread the floor is the new wave. If Blake Griffin can begin knocking down the 15-footer with confidence and consistency then the gap closes up due to him being able to affect the defensive end more due to his athleticism. But since that hasn’t come into fruition yet, Love’s the guy.
Blake Griffin dunks in warmups before the Clippers meeting with the Miami Heat

Blake Griffin dunks in warmups before the Clippers meeting with the Miami Heat

Kevin Love leads the league in rebounding and is second only to Kevin Durant in points per game thus far this season.

Kevin Love leads the league in rebounding and is second only to Kevin Durant in points per game thus far this season.

Miller is good stuff and churns out content like a machine for FullyClips and the other sites she’s involved with. On behalf of Timberpups I’d just like to take a moment to give thanks for the time she spent on this preview, as well as help with editing in the past (and probably the future).
If you’re a writer who covers an upcoming Wolves opponent and would like to participate in our previews, shoot me an email or DM — Zwbd333@gmail.com or @ZacharyBD. If you have any questions about an upcoming opponent feel free to DM or mention myself, Alex, John, Lindsey or the PupsBlog twitter (@timberpupsblog) with those. Also, we’re not opposed to fan posts — if you’re a regular reader here at the PupsBlog, we’d love to hear your opinions pertaining to our favorite team.
Photos are from the Clippers and Wolves team sites and can be found in appropriate photo archives.