Thinking short-term goals the Wolves are 2-1 this week.
Disclaimer: Venting a little. This one may not be pleasant.
The Minnesota Timberwolves lost to the San Antonio Spurs Friday; 110-117.
The Wolves led the Spurs, 30-27, at the end of the opening quarter.
Ricky Rubio, defended by Tony Parker, scored six-points on three mid-range jumpers in the final two-and-a-half minutes. Parker defended against penetration henceforth encouraging attempts from outside; Rubio recognized, elevated, and connected from three different areas for six points.
Two of his three buckets came on pull-ups in between the free-throw and the three-point line, dribbling to his right on both of the attempts. If you want to read the shameless self-promo portion of this segment, it will remind you that he’s comfortable shooting from that area — hopefully we see this continue throughout the season.
Reminder: 30-27, end of the first.
Nikola Pekovic was the only starter to play more than half of the second quarter. Pek roamed the floor for 10 minutes, grabbed five boards, but only scored 4 points on 2 of 4 from the field. He didn’t take one free-throw. Kevin Love managed to hit two-three’s and had 16 going into the locker room to go along with 5 rebounds, he was just getting started.
However Parker, usually by buzzing past defenders into the lane for a layup, manufactured 15 first-half points and the Spurs led at halftime; 54-62.
- J.J. Barea and Alexey Shved shot a combined to score 10 points on 3 of 7 from the field in addition to hitting 3 of 4 FT’s. Those were the team’s only bench points
- Boris Diaw had 12 points on 6 of 8 shooting
- Spurs bench points — 29 of 62
- Wolves bench points — 10 of 54
Do I sound bitter?
The bench doesn’t score. I’m somehow going to show you what i mean in the following sentences, or bullets, or whatever format I display statistics; but only as a formality.
- J.J Barea is averaging 6 points in 17 minutes per game over the last 12. Barea is 31 percent from the field and 25 percent from downtown. Well, this is fun. Not. He’s supposed to be instant and effortless offensive production and that’s certainly not happening
- In the same stretch Dante Cunningham is averaging 19 minutes, but he’s even less productive on the scoreboard. Although it feels “DC Hustle” plays with unmistakable tenacity, he’s capable of greater numbers. He scored a timely eight points contributing to the Wolves comeback victory against the Philadelphia 76ers a few days back.
- This team struggles to score making Luc Mbah a Moute a player that isn’t part of the solution, not right now.
- Shved has been playing in the first, second and even the fourth-quarters of games recently, yet, the Russian seems non-existent and doesn’t do much.
- Robbie Hummel excited the Target Center against the Sixers with clutch shooting, but, he missed his only attempt from downtown in the opening half.
Starters, as Pek did in the second quarter of this game (that I am recapping, by the way), are rotating turns playing with the second unit for added stretches during portions of the game. Look; Pek is two points and one rebound away from being a 20-10 center, he’s been phenomenal. Unfortunately, I’d feel pleasantly surprised if he sustained this health and production throughout the entire season. I just can’t say confidently he’s capable of doing that.
Barea or Cunningham are capable of playing better, I’ve seen them do it. Robbie Hummel is for supplementary purposes until Chase Budinger returns, but, that length of time continues to grow — he’s been gone for so long, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have him.
I wanted to get the aforementioned opinion on the bench out of my system, pardon the negativity.
This video shows you all of the points Love scored last night, which -if you missed it- there were 42.
Note: 19 of 42 came in the third quarter.
Lov3 was seven of eight from the three point line before entering the fourth quarter. After being outscored 24-35 in the second the Wolves shook the Spurs for 35 points, limiting them to only 18.
Third Quarter Scoring
- Wolves Starters: 35 of 35 points. That’s all the points.
- Wolves Bench: Zero. The Wolves Starters scored all of the team’s points in the third quarter.
- Somebody named Kevin: 24
- Leonard: 11 of Spurs’ 18
- Kevin Love: 19
Love hit another three that put the Wolves up, 98-91, with just over eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Thirty seconds later Parker responded with a three of his own and the Spurs proceeded to overcome the Wolves momentum and things slowly slipped out of hand.
Diaw put Love on lockdown and made things difficult down the stretch, Love seemed gassed and Rubio, Brewer and Pekovic missed makeable buckets that became the difference in the end.
- Kevin Love – Lots of points, very good accuracy shooting
- Tony Parker – Dribble penetration ended in layups or assists on baskets made around the rim. The Wolves don’t have a presence to discourage opposing guards, and forwards, from entering the lane.
- Nikola Pekovic – 18 points with 11 boards on 7 of 13 FG shooting and a perfect four of four on FT’s.
I can’t imagine Budinger or Turiaf will return in December, in fact there’s no way. Budinger by Christmas was -initially- hopeful speculation, but, although he’s been shooting and dunking in practice he’s not performing basketball at full speed, yet.
Turiaf’s return will be longer than expected, he’s still dealing with an elbow fracture.
The bench needs help.