Timberpups Weekly Preview – Week 20

The Wolves’ youngsters have a few more weeks to absorb everything from KG. (Credit: NBAE/David Sherman Getty Images)

The Wolves’ youngsters have a few more weeks to absorb everything from KG. (Credit: NBAE/David Sherman Getty Images)

Setting the stage:

If nothing else, the Timberwolves have my attention the rest of this season due to the Kevin Garnett and Gary Neal trades.  To say that the team is playing more enjoyable basketball over the past couple of weeks would be an egregious understatement.  While players have returned from injury, the two that have mattered the most are Kevin Martin and Ricky Rubio.  Everything else is just gravy along the rest of the way through this season.

With the Pups playing better, there are several chances for the team to walk away with a few victories this week.  Here is a brief preview for this week’s four games:

Game 66: Monday, 3/16, 7pm – Brooklyn Nets @ Timberpups (TV: FS North)

It may not be too surprising to see the Nets’ season go down the tubes since the trade deadline.  The team essentially threw in the towel and the results since have the team looking below them in the standings to see if anyone else in the Eastern Conference will pass them by.

Opponent to watch:

Thad Young – This will probably be the last time I ever mention Thad on this board, so might as well take the opportunity.  The former Pup takes on his former team at the Target Center.

Game 67: Wednesday, 3/18, 6:30pm – Timberpups @ Toronto Raptors (TV: FS North)

The Wolves and Raptors have yet to play this season, but the crowd should be engaged in this one as Andrew Wiggins (and Anthony Bennett) return to the homeland.  Toronto has a double digit lead on every other team in its division and has run away with the Atlantic division.  However, the standings are tight and they can’t afford to drop a home game against the Wolves.

Opponent to watch:

Kyle Lowry – Lowry is having a career best year, leading the Raptors in steals and assists, while second on the team with over 18 ppg.  He will give Wolves’ PG’s fits, particularly if he can get Rubio into foul trouble.

Game 68: Thursday, 3/19, 6:30pm – Timberpups @ New York Knicks (TV: FSN Plus)

Tankapalooza takes its next step as the Wolves head to Madison Square Garden to take on the (dreadful) Knicks.  A win by the Wolves should lock up a better season record vs. New York, as Minnesota already defeated the Knicks in early November.

Opponent to watch:

Alexey Shved – Welcome back to Timberpups.com Alexey Shved!  Someone is likely telling him to “change your face” on a nightly basis having to play for this awful franchise.

Game 69: Sunday, 3/22, 6pm – Charlotte Hornets @ Timberpups (TV: FS North)

Al Jefferson may be destined to never play meaningful minutes in the playoffs.  There is no reason for the Hornets to miss the playoffs and lose a spot to the likes of the Pacers.  This team is going to continue to underachieve until Michael Jordan is forced out of retirement again, aren’t they?

Opponent to watch:

Mo Williams – Williams has played incredibly well for the Hornets since being traded by the Wolves.  Consistently seeing over 30 minutes per game may not be a great way to keep Williams fresh for the end of the season, but the Hornets have no other option at this point.


It is a week of returns for ex-Pups players and facing their former team.  The Wolves should be able to pull at least two victories out of this coming week.  Let’s go Wolves!

Recap – Raptors 94, Timberwolves 89

raptor mascot

Strangely, this makes me laugh every time I look at it (Ron Turenne/Getty Images)

Two pretty average NBA teams came together at the Air Canada Centre Friday night for the first time this season, with the 18-20 Timberwolves taking on the 19-18 Toronto Raptors.  The Wolves play again on Saturday and that will be game number 41 on the season.  You know what that means?  We will be halfway through the NBA season and I’ll be putting together some thoughts on the team, its (blah) performance, and more in the coming days.  Expect a few write-ups to hit the site between now and Tuesday.

Despite the underwhelming performances in the past few weeks, no changes to the Wolves starting lineup: Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love, and Pekovic.  (For the record, I don’t believe there should be any changes in the starting lineup.)  Speaking of underwhelming, the Raptors opened up with: Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross, DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson, and Jonas Valaciunas. [Read more…]

Minnesota Timberwolves 86 – Toronto Raptors 105

Richard Lautens/Toronto Star

Coming off a Friday night victory against the Sacramento Kings, the Minnesota Timberwolves traveled to Toronto on Sunday and fell to a much-improved opponent by a score of 105-86. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan finished with 22 points apiece and were the keys to taking down a Timberwolves team that is in desperate need of scoring leadership.

Through one half of play, Minnesota trailed Toronto by a score of 56-47. As bad as it was to watch, the Wolves were very lucky to only be trailing by 9 given that Minnesota committed 16 turnovers compared to only 3 by the Raptors. The Pups stayed afloat in the first half by out-rebounding Toronto 21-15, while even out-shooting the Raptors 56% to 45%.

Brandon Roy was nowhere to be found in the first half as he netted two free throws – while failing to attempt a field goal – in 13 minutes of play. He even committed a miserable 5 first-half turnovers. Roy was exploited defensively by guards DeMar DeRozan and Alan Anderson, and the two opposing SGs netted a combined 23 points in the first half. Although Roy did not commit any additional turnovers in the second half, the veteran SG failed to convert a field goal and finished with a disappointing line of 4 points, 5 turnovers, 1 steal and 1 rebound in 22 minutes. The Wolves signed Roy to be their closer, and he was anything but that tonight.

Andrei Kirilenko was one of the only bright spots for the Pups in the first half as he scored 10 points on a perfect 4-4 shooting while even blocking 3 shots. JJ Barea was playing well until leaving the game in the middle of the second quarter due to a head injury sustained after hitting his head on Dante Cunningham’s foot following a nice drive and layup. It was later learned that Barea suffered a mild concussion, and he likewise was unable to return for the second half. JJ remains doubtful for Monday’s matchup in Brooklyn, which could potentially pose an even greater problem to Minnesota’s current offensive deficiency.

Nikola Pekovic had his hands full matched up against 7-foot rookie Jonas Valanciunas, and had a tough time establishing inside position on the former number 5 overall draft selection. Valanciunas held Minnesota’s top offensive weapon to only 15 points on 6-11 shooting and provided tough interior defense in his 23 minutes on the floor.

After three quarters of action, the Timberwolves trailed 79-73 and were still within reach of making a fourth-quarter comeback in order to salvage the game. However, the turnover and shooting woes continued into the fourth and the Pups managed to score only 13 fourth-quarter points compared to Toronto’s 26.

Alexey Shved scored his first points of his career tonight, finishing with 8 points (2-6 shooting), 4 assists and 4 rebounds in 22 minutes. Shved looked much better tonight than he did against the Kings, and the terrible play of Roy contributed to Shved’s increased role tonight. There were glimpses of his performances with the Russian national team occasionally tonight, but Shved was once again unable to get in a rhythm and was ultimately ineffective.

To keep this short and crisp, the only player on Minnesota that truly played an effective and complete game tonight was Andrei Kirilenko. AK-47 was all over the court tonight, finishing with a characteristic stat line of 17 points (6-7 shooting), 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks and 1 steal in 29 minutes of action. AK excelled with the ball fake and similar to his performance against the Kings, is able to effectively and consistently get his defender to bite, allowing him to penetrate the lane and either score or set up a teammate with an open look. Kirilenko was about the only thing about the Timberwolves that was fun to watch tonight, and they will need to get their acts together if they want to have a chance against Brooklyn tomorrow night.