Recap – Bobcats 105, Timberwolves 93

 

Big Al vs. Bigger Pek,  Wolves, Bobcats, semi-live from Charlotte (Thanks Xbox) (Photo credit: Timberwolves.com)

Big Al vs. Bigger Pek,
Wolves, Bobcats, semi-live from Charlotte (Thanks Xbox)
(Photo credit: Timberwolves.com)

 

After a few nights off, the Timberwolves returned to action on Friday night to take on the Bobcats in Charlotte.  Minnesota entered the game with a 32-31 record, while Charlotte was coming in off of a win Wednesday night in Washington, moving their record to 31-34 on the year.  The Bobcats are currently in the seven seed position in the Eastern Conference playoffs and won seven games in a row at home.  What happened … well, you probably saw the title of the article?

The Pups’ starting lineup: Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love, and Pekovic.  The Bobcats opened up with Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Josh McRoberts, and ex-Pup Al Jefferson.

First Half 

In a somewhat slow start to the game, aided by a “clear path” review by the refs, the Bobcats took an 8-7 lead into the game’s first timeout with about 8.5 minutes left in the 1st quarter.  Gerald Henderson had all 8 points for the Bobcats, allowing me to daydream about this past offseason one more time.  I have always liked Henderson’s game and thought he would be a good fit for the Wolves.

Coming out of the first timeout, it looked like both teams decided to wake up and unofficially start playing real NBA basketball. Kevin Martin and Kevin Love led the way for the Wolves in the quarter.  After the timeout, MKG and Big Al stood out for the Bobcats and balancing out the Kevin’s efforts.  At the end of the 1st quarter, the teams were tied at 33-33.

Wholesale lineup changes for Adelman’s club to start out the 2nd quarter and let’s just say that this didn’t start or end well.  I’m not sure what it is going to take to move away from this outside of Flip taking over as coach.  Dear lord … not only did the rotation not work, but Adelman refused to burn a timeout, waiting for the official’s timeout before reinserting Love and Nikola Pekovic into the game.  However, the damage was done, as the Bobcats led 50-41.

Despite having many of the starters back in, the Wolves fell further in the hole, 59-43.  So, to recap what happened here; backups fell behind double digits and when the wholesale changes back to the starting lineup took place, those players were all cooled off and out of the flow of the game.  What team uses this strategy successfully?!  This actually came off my keyboard during the 2nd quarter misery:

While I know this will burn me a year from now, I’m completely OK with Adelman walking away in the offseason.

— john flesta(@jflesta) March 15, 2014

I’m sadly not overstating this, while completely realizing the likelihood that the alternative is better is about one in ten.  At the half, the Bobcats held a 65-53 advantage.  Here are a few thoughts going into the locker room:

  • At the half, the best +/- from the Wolves’ bench was a -11 from LRMAM.
  • Gary Neal, en fuego.  5-7 from the field for 16 points.  Coincidentally, much of his playing time was against … you guessed it, the Wolves’ bench.

Second Half 

The Pups started the 3rd quarter 0-5 from the field and their body language to start the half was poor.  Adelman may have noticed this and took an early timeout, with just over two minutes gone by and the team down 67-53.  Gorgui Dieng checked in for a struggling Pekovic and Big Al took him to school early on a pump fake.  Dieng tried to make up for the lost step but was called for a goaltend.  The rookie spent much of the next few minutes in Jekyll and Hyde mode with positive and negative plays up and down the court.  This ties in nicely with a request for PT for the rookies the rest of the way.  Please and thank you.

The body language for the Wolves got progressively worse as the 3rd quarter rolled on.  As the teams entered the final frame, the Bobcats held a 13 point lead, 88-75.  It could have been worse, but Chris Douglas-Roberts couldn’t get a made 35 foot three pointer out of his hands in time.

As the 4th quarter started, the Wolves official word on Pekovic was a sore ankle and his return was questionable.  Frankly, it probably didn’t matter.  The Wolves couldn’t get the Bobcats’ lead under 10 points and much of the 4th quarter felt like it was just going through the motions.  Final score, 105-93 – moving the Wolves back to .500 on the season.

Three Stars of the Game

  1. Al Jefferson – 25 & 16 for the ex-Pup
  2. Gary Neal – Lights out shooting when it mattered, finishing with 19 points in 25 minutes
  3. Wolves Twitter – No one on the Wolves roster deserves the slot, and honestly, there isn’t anyone else on the Bobcats either.  So thanks to Wolves Twitter for keeping tonight’s game semi-interesting. 

Key Takeaways

  • Dave Benz pointed this out late in the game, but the Wolves were outrebounded 54-35 in tonight’s game.  When is the last time it was THAT bad with this team?!
  • All eyes should probably stay on Pek’s injury and if he will have to miss any more time over the next week or so.  With the playoffs unofficially, officially out of sight and mind, do the Wolves turn overly cautious with the big man (and his contract)?

Minnesota Timberwolves 88 – San Antonio Spurs 106

rickyrubio_tonyparkerGet ready for one of the seediest recaps you will ever see on this site.  I’m a Seahawks fan and they lost a heartbreaker earlier today.  Now, I have to watch the Twolves at half strength play the Spurs, who are coming off a bad loss to the Grizzlies.  This should be fun.

The Pups opened up with Ridnour, Shved, Kirilenko, Cunningham, and Pekovic.  The Spurs countered with Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, and Tiago Splitter.  Let’s just agree on the fact that this game should be called on account of my misery.

As an added bonus, NBA LP puts on the Spurs broadcast and I now have to listen to Sean Elliott talk for the next three hours.  The Pups actually got off to a decent start with Pekovic down low and Cunningham getting open jump shots.  Luke Ridnour’s mid-range game also aided in the early minutes as the Wolves jumped out to a 16-7 lead going into the first timeout of the game.

The Spurs came back and outscored the Wolves 17-5 to end the quarter, with the Pups leaving a lot of points on the floor with too many missed tips and bad decisions on both ends of the floor.  After one quarter, the Spurs led 24-21 and Sean Elliott only annoyed me approximately four times.  He is, unquestionably, the worst analyst on broadcast TV.  You cannot convince me otherwise.

The second quarter started with more of the same from the Spurs, widening their lead to eleven points within the first few minutes of the quarter.  Outside of a strong move to the hoop from DWill, the Wolves second unit looked terrible.  Greg Stiemsma has looked awful the last few weeks and his first few minutes on the court did nothing to disprove or change that.

Nikola Pekovic and Luke Ridnour made up for the poor minutes thrown in from Rubio and Stiemsma in the second quarter to cut the Spurs lead to two points going into the final minutes of the quarter.  I know that this is sacrilege, but the Pups really need to decide what to do with Rubio.  He’s clearly not the same player right now and he is not looking for his shot at all.

At the end of the first half, the Spurs led 55-50, which was preceded with a Boris Diaw three pointer and Luke Ridnour missing an off balance jumper with plenty of time left in the quarter.  To say it has been a long day is an understatement.  Here are two quick halftime thoughts:

  • Sean Elliott is the worst NBA analyst on television.
  • It is going to be a struggle for the Wolves to stay competitive with the current roster.  I just can’t see this team, as is, staying in the hunt for the playoffs.

Less than a minute into the second half, Popovich calls a timeout to try to fix things.  As much as I loathe the Spurs, I really like Pop.  His no nonsense style goes a long way in my book.  His complete disdain for interviews with sideline reporters also makes me giddy.

After cutting the lead to one point, the Wolves went cold and couldn’t execute on offense.  As an added bonus, they started playing terrible defense leading to an 11-0 run by the Spurs.  Even with the lead, the Spurs managed to complain after every whistle.  Is there a more loathsome team in the league?

At the end of the third quarter, the Pups managed to keep the game close with decent play from their PG combo of Luke and JJ.  While it felt much worse, the Spurs were only up 78-71 going into the final twelve minutes.

A wild sequence of plays led to a couple of three pointers from the Spurs to give them an 88-75 lead and this game felt all but over.  Rubio was on the floor during this small stint from the Spurs and I took a quick look at the box score to see a game low -19 for Ricky thus far.  DWill was on the floor at the same time and looked just as bad.

I’m not sure what happened or what was said, but Popovich just got tossed after a JJ Barea layup and three point play.  Unfortunately, all momentum was killed when DWill missed two lay-ups and the Spurs ran down the floor for a dunk, followed by multiple misses from the Wolves and multiple Spurs buckets.  With the lead increased to 19 points, my concentration level began to wane.

The final score of tonight’s game was 106-88, with the Pups dropping their third straight.

Keys of the Game

  • Shooting Percentages – It really can be a simple game.  The Wolves were 33-89 from the field for 37% while the Spurs finished 45-80 for a remarkable 56%.  You aren’t going to win too many games with those numbers going against you.
  • Three Pointers – Another terrible night from beyond arc for the Wolves.  4-16 tonight, while the Spurs hit 8-21 and seemed to hit a three pointer every time the Wolves tried to make a run.

Three Stars of the Game

  1. Tony Parker – 20 points and 6 assists, blowing past any of the Twolves’ PG’s in the process
  2. Tim Duncan – Wait for it: 12 points, 9 rebounds, 7 blocks, 5 assists, and 3 steals.  How old is this guy again?
  3. Gary Neal – Perfect 3-3 beyond the arc, putting the dagger in the Wolves.  Finished with 15 points off the bench in just 21 minutes

The Wolves are back in action Monday night against the Mavs.