Turnovers Hurt; Wolves 82 vs Jazz 91 in Summer League Game 3

KAT dishes an amazing assist vs the Jazz

KAT dishes an amazing assist vs the Jazz

(Yes, it’s late and I hope this is a great way to fill in the gaps in
Wolves summer action.)

After watching game 3, I wanted to share my thoughts on games from
Vegas. Here’s main impressions and how they impact the upcoming 2015-
2016 NBA season.

Immediately, the announcers made it clear the Wolves are on the rise.
They pointed out it’s been 10 years of under .500 ball for Minnesota
and noted that should change with the recent additions.

O Strong!
The #SummerLeague is built to determine who fills out your roster. It
gives NBA teams a chance to give solid time to players who need
development and who may or may not be NBA ready. For Summer Wolves
guard Othyus Jeffers, this is another chance to show Minnesota he is
ready. Jeffers, or simply “0” (I was told that was his nickname when I
saw him play live in Des Moines with the Energy) joined the Wolves two
seasons ago (last year he played in the Philippine Basketball
In his return to the Wolves, he’s shows aggressiveness and hustle. I
don’t see him bringing the ball up the court, but his drive and effort
can give him a spot on the roster. Last year’s Wolves needed guards
and I see an opportunity for him.
O’s dilemma might be foul shots. During the first half of this game vs
the Jazz, O missed both foul shots (can’t call ’em free throws when
you miss ’em). The roster will be interesting to see develop. This
summer the foundation is set and roster spots will be hard to get for
some. I think O could make it and if not, he’s an injury away from
returning. He’s definitely shown me he’s on the cusp.

Towns Flying Around
In yet another game, Karl-Anthony Towns (KAT) was chasing the ball. He was on the floor and hustling. When the season starts in October, I
hope the Wolves will let the Lexus Club members know to watch out!
Those seated in the first row will receive a visit from KAT.
A telling play was at the end of the game. With time expiring, Towns
asked for the ball. Lorenzo Brown drove to the hoop and was blocked.
The game is basically over, but Towns did NOT give up. He chased down
the ball and got a shot. It did not go in, but he took a shot. That’s
the hustle I love! That experience will pay off in the future.

Wiggins Layup!
Yes, there are two Wiggins’ in Vegas. Andrew Wiggins sat courtside
with Zach LaVine, General Manager Milt Newton and owner Glen Taylor & family while Nick Wiggins joined the Wolves wearing #6 and joined the Wolves’ summer roster. The first points of Wiggins’ Minnesota
thanks to Lorezno Brown. He, too, showed drive and made good on his
opportunity. I’m certain his bro was proud.

Payne Trying the Deep Ball
Adreian Payne banked one in & hit front rim on another. Has he done enough to start next season? Probably not, but he’s shown improvement, looked solid (against summer ballers), and has enough on tape to look create a summer to fall workout program.

Jones’ Passing Promise and D to Learn
Tyus Jones will be fun to watch on offense. His game shows the passing
flashes that will only develop as he gets to know his teammates. He
does chase on D and I know that the Wolves and Jones will be working
on that all summer into the fall. Jones will learn how to defend in
the NBA. It’s not easy to make the jump up a level. Summer League is
up one level and the NBA is another level.

Brown Belongs
Lorenzo Brown showed he’s the #1 guard on the Summer team. He looked
comfortable bringing the ball up the court and was a solid assist-man.
Simply said Brown belongs.

Okafor vs Towns
I’ve spent a lot of time on NBA TV and overheard an interesting
conversation about KAT. During the Bulls versus Phoenix broadcast,
ex-Detroit Piston Isiah Thomas was announcing and talking about his
thoughts on whom he’d choose #1 overall. He admitted knowing Jahlil
Okafor‘s family, then said he understood the Wolves’ choice because of
how their pick would need to fit with LaVine and Wiggins. He liked
Towns, but said that Okafor’s talents make him an 8- to 10-year-All-
Star barring injury. That’s high praise. Only time will tell, but I
can’t imagine not having Towns in a Wolves jersey.

Next, Summer League Game 4.

Wolves’ Shot is Off vs Bulls in #SummerLeague Game 2 (71-84)


Reggie is enthralled with John

Reggie is enthralled with John

Tonight the Bulls simply shot better & boarded better (32% shooting by
MN). The ball movement wasn’t the same for the Wolves. The shot
wasn’t dropping, especially for Zach LaVine until a couple threes in the
mid-4th (even his last shot after the buzzer hit rim & bounced out).
But, this isn’t about wins or losses, so let’s talk about the individual performances.

Watch Out!
It’s clear to me after two Summer League games that if you’re a
Timberwolves player, you’d better keep your head on the swivel and
drive to the hoop. Again tonight Karl-Anthony Towns (KAT) was passing the ball well including an over the head, no-look style pass. I saw it yesterday and wondered if this was a trend or not. It is! So between Ricky Rubio and Towns, watch out! #BallsComing!

KAT Hustle
Karl-Anthony Towns will hustle. He was chasing down ball last night
and tonight he did it again. During the 1st quarter he chased a ball
that the didn’t have to chase. My worry was that he’d crash into the
seats. He did not. He is working hard and really does hustle. Be ready
for that effort to translate into blocks. He is fun to watch.#KATlikeMoves

One Hand is Plenty
Watch KAT closely. On one play, he got his arm in there to tap up a
rebound. Now, it did not go in, but I was surprised he even got to it.
I love to see that and I predict that you will see it again and one of
those plays will be an #SCTop10. He finds the ball.

Jones Most Improved
In the NCAAs, Tyus Jones earned the Most Outstanding Player. He got his first taste of the NBA last night. Tonight, he started and he played
much better. He took charges, stole the ball, and had great assists.
Most of the time, he seemed to bring the ball up to LaVine. He also
had a couple #And1 drives. He seems to love the ‘oop and I know Target
Center will love him for that. He looked most improved from game 1 to
game 2. Be ready for skyball starting in the Fall. #EyesOnTheRise

More Payne
#33 Adreian Payne brought it again. Especially early, he was looking solid again and he’s also on the receiving end of the great passes by KAT and Jones. He almost seems energized by what’s going on with this club. Announcer Reggie Miller liked him and harkened back to his days at Michigan State. He’s hitting threes in Vegas which is going to make him tough to manage if he keeps it going on.

Loving John Malkovich
The upside of watching the Summer League on NBATV tonight was the
amazing conversation between Reggie Miller and John Malkovich. Reggie was enthralled. Surprise, surprise! John is a huge hoops fan. He
explained he was at last night’s games to watch Willie Cauley-Stein
(of the Sacramento Kings). Watching Reggie and John talk hoops was
amazing. John spoke well and with dramatic pauses. Reggie didn’t mind
for a moment. In fact, John asked Reggie a question. He wanted to know
what he thought of Jonathan Simmons (Spurs). Reggie was impressed.

That’s my take. What did you see?

Season’s Over – Thunder Rock Timberwolves 138-113

Admit it, this made you laugh too. (Photo credit: William Bennett Barry on WelcomeToLoudCity.com)

Admit it, this made you laugh too. (Photo credit: William Bennett Barry on WelcomeToLoudCity.com)


The end of the 2014/15 NBA regular season is now official for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who finish the year with a (largely pathetic) 16-66 record.  As you likely know, the Oklahoma City Thunder entered the game with a chance to make the playoffs as the 8th seed with a victory and a little help down in New Orleans.

There wasn’t much doubt going into the evening with the plethora of injuries the Timberwolves have amounted over the past few weeks and months, along with a strong desire to have the most ping pong balls in the NBA lottery.  The 16 wins on the season equates to the third worst record in the team’s history.  You’ll find a bullet point list of things to consider for the Wolves’ offseason below.

The Thunder … well, they have Russell Westbrook.  Without Kevin Durant, the Thunder have struggled to hold onto a playoff spot and will retool in the offseason.  The Pelicans took care of the Spurs Wednesday night and will take the 8 seed in the Western Conference.

The Pups starting lineup consisted of Zach LaVine, Kevin Martin, Andrew Wiggins, Adreian Payne, and Arinze Onuaku.  Interesting stat/number from this season – Wiggins is only one of ten players to start all 82 games this season.  That number is extraordinarily low and concerning.  “Hello reduced NBA game schedule!”

OKC opened up with Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Dion Waiters, Enes Kanter, and Steven Adams.

The Thunder got off to an 8-0 start and the game was essentially decided at that point, despite several attempts by the Wolves to make it a closer contest.  At the end of the 1st quarter, the Thunder held a 47-29 advantage.  You read that correctly.  Westbrook had 23 points at the end of the first 12 minutes.  Did I mention this game was over when the score was 8-0?

Let’s just run through the score at the end of each quarter:

  • Halftime: Thunder 76 – Wolves 54
  • End of 3rd: Thunder 106 – Wolves 85
  • End of game: Thunder 138 – Wolves 113

Rather than say anything else about the season ending loss, here are a number of thoughts on this franchise as it heads into another playoff-less offseason.  We’ll look to cover some of this in a lot more detail at the appropriate time.

  • I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I truly believe that Andrew Wiggins isn’t getting enough credit for his rookie season.  His month to month averages improved as the season progressed, he played in all 82 games, and he never hit the rookie wall.  That’s un-freaking-believable!
  • Flip Saunders must get off of the sideline as Head Coach.  Sorry Flip, but you have to get out of the way of your own self.
  • I hope to see Ricky Rubio and Kevin Garnett on the court, fully healthy, next season for this team.  I don’t expect early 2000’s KG by any stretch, but their combined passion for basketball would be glorious.
  • Speaking of Rubio, we are on the border of hitting the dreaded “injury plagued” rumor with him.  If he can’t stay healthy next season, this franchise is in a lot of trouble.  A lot.
  • While Karl-Anthony Towns (or Jahlil Okafor) is heavily preferred, even without either player on next year’s roster, the Wolves need to find a new home for Nikola Pekovic.  That isn’t going to be easy.
  • The Wolves would also be better served to find a new home for Kevin Martin.

That’s it for this season’s game recaps folks.  What are your thoughts on the forthcoming offseason?  Where are, or should, the focus be put on the court, on the sideline, and/or in the front office?  Let us know in the comments below.


Weekly Preview 24 – The End is Nigh


Grab a cold one and witness the somber end of another merciful Timberwolves season (Courtesy of The Eric Andre Show)

Guys, we’ve almost made it. After 23 weeks and 80 games, the finish line is finally in sight. Even though the end to a season is usually cause for a somber moment, few will shed a tear once the Wolves season is completed.

A season that started with cause for optimism slowly devolved into a chase for a high lottery pick. Whether it was Flip’s questionable lineup decisions, a barrage of injuries, or signing a guy simply because he was in close proximity to New York, the Wolves season ludicrous free fall has left them tied with New York in the cellar of the NBA, with 2 games remaining.

Injury Report:

Anthony Bennett – Indigestion, too many BLT’s (Unlikely to return this season)

Nikola Pekovic – Retired to pursue career in ice fishing (Will not return this season)

Kevin Garnett – Banged his head into the stanchion one too many times (Doubtful for Monday)

Gorgui Dieng – Couldn’t risk playing him, we really need to lose these last few games (Questionable for Monday)

Shabazz Muhammad – Inconsolable about the fact he has two z’s in his first name, yet none in his last name. (Will not return this season)

Ricky Rubio – Looks mighty fine in a sport coat (Will not return)

Gary Neal – Who? Oh yeah, that guy! The one who made those threes in the Finals for the Spurs that one time! Why did we trade for him again? (Unlikely to return)

Robbie Hummel – Still thinking long and hard about coming out with that rap album (Questionable for Monday)

Andrew Wiggins – Don’t worry about him, he’s just fine, thank you very much. Not like he’s been run into the ground or anything. (Perfectly fine, will play Monday)

Last Week:  Opponents 448, Wolves 401

An 0-4 week has brought the Wolves current losing streak to an even 10 games, the longest current streak in the league. There were a few occurrences of note, including Martin’s 37 against Sacramento, Wiggins pair of 29 point games, and LaVine’s Twolves rookie record 37 at Oracle Arena, but otherwise it was just business as usual for the worst team in the West.

This play by Wiggins, however, was awesome.

So yeah, this Wiggins kid is pretty fun to watch. Combined with LaVine, Rubio, and a top-5 pick in the draft, The Wolves have a bright future ahead of them. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make the product currently on the floor any more competitive.

The Final 2 Games:

Game 81: Monday, 4/13, 7pm – New Orleans Pelicans vs. Timberpups (TV: None) 

Finally, a winnable game! Ha, you thought I was serious. Well, the Pelicans are tied for the final playoff spot in the West and are going to need a win Monday to stay on top of the Thunder, so you can bet they are going to come out in full force.

Opponent to Watch – Anthony Davis (Alien Overlord)

I, for one, welcome our new supreme leader, and am already sporting a unibrow to mark the occasion. We come in peace, Mr. Davis, please do not hurt us. We will pay heed to of your commands, and will let you score all of the points you wish.

Game 82: Wednesday, 4/15, 7pm – Oklahoma City Westbrook’s vs. Timberpups (TV: FSNorth)

Thankfully, for the Wolves season finale, they face a team with nothing to play for. Wait a second, they’re playing the Thunder? The same Thunder that are tied with the Pelicans and more than likely need a win on Wednesday? Well…

Player to Watch – Russell Westbrook (Superhuman)

Fresh off a matchup with alien overlord Anthony Davis, the Wolves will face the equally terrifying superhuman Russell Westbrook. In the absence of Kevin Durant, Westbrook has had to carry the load for the Thunder, and he does it with a variety of different techniques. He could hit you with his superior strength, speed, athleticism, or all three, if he so chooses. You must not anger Mr. Westbrook, for if you do, he will tear you apart into thousands of tiny little pieces, and you will never hear from him again.


It’s been a long, agonizing season, but there have been a fair share of moments filled with excitement, hope, and optimism. The Wolves final games may be devoid of all of that, as they face 2 teams that are desperately grasping at the chance to attain that final playoff spot out West. The future is bright, but this week, a stampede is approaching Target Center, and the Wolves might be best to just get out of the way.


Timberpups Weekly Preview – Week 23

The last road trip of the season is ahead for Flip Saunders and his/our Pups.  (Credit: Richard Sennott, Associated Press)

The last road trip of the season is ahead for Flip Saunders and his/our Pups. (Credit: Richard Sennott, Associated Press)


Setting the stage:

The Minnesota Timberwolves are down to the last week and a half of the season.  Unfortunately for the club, the forthcoming week includes a west coast swing and several very hard match-ups.  Will the Wolves surpass 17 wins on the year to not tie the third worst record in franchise history for the season?

It doesn’t look very promising based on the week ahead.  Here is a brief preview for the trip out West:

Game 77: Tuesday, 4/7, 9pm – Timberpups @ Sacramento Kings (TV: FS North)

The Kings have handled the Wolves in both of the prior meetings this season and there is one guy that may have a field day if the Wolves don’t get a healthy body out on the court to start this west coast trip …

Opponent to watch:

DeMarcus Cousins – Remember when the Wolves drafted Wesley Johnson over Cousins?  That wound up being a pretty good decision, no?  Cousins leads the Kings in every major statistical category excluding assists and has a PER over 25 this season.  Headcase or not, he’s “slightly” better at playing the game of basketball vs. Wes Johnson.

Game 78: Wednesday, 4/8, 9pm – Timberpups @ Portland Trailblazers (TV: FS North)

The Blazers will be looking to close out the, somewhat underwhelming, Northwest Division as soon as possible and that could happen against the Wolves (if not sooner).

Opponent to watch:

Damian Lillard – Lillard has been a Wolves’ killer since entering the NBA and I fear for what he may do to Zach LaVine on Wednesday night.

Game 79: Friday, 4/10, 9:30pm – Timberpups @ Los Angeles Lakers (TV: FS North & NBA TV)

The bottom of the barrel of the Western Conference faces off on Friday night in Los Angeles.  The Lakers have won two of three against the Pups this season, with the home team having dropped all three games thus far.

Opponent to watch:

Jordan Clarkson – While it likely won’t have such high implications, this could be a nice test for who deserves a spot on the All-Rookie Second Team between Clarkson and LaVine.  While neither have caught the headlines (minus LaVine’s dunk competition), Clarkson has been rock solid for the Lakers in recent weeks.

Game 80: Saturday, 4/11, 9:30pm – Timberpups @ Golden State Warriors (TV: FS North)

The Wolves close out their four game road trip on a back-to-back against the best team in the NBA.  Let’s leave this one alone and enjoy watching the most entertaining team in the league for the evening.

Opponent to watch:

Stephen Curry – He’s good and I’m going to resist the Jonny Flynn jokes (or am I?).  Curry is throwing up almost 24 points and 8 assists a night for the best team in the NBA.  Let’s wrap this up before I get angry.


The last road trip, particularly for a team whose season is over, must be hard enough for any team.  However, the Wolves have dresses approximately 45 players in a uniform this season and are looking towards the future with their #EyesOnTheRise.


Magic Dust Over Timberwolves, 97-84

Andrew Wiggins and Elfrid Payton (Getty Images)

Andrew Wiggins and Elfrid Payton (Getty Images)

Ahead of the final west coast road trip of their season, the Minnesota Timberwolves hosted the Orlando Magic in Minneapolis Friday night.  As has been the case over the past few weeks, Flip Saunders was forced to throw out another starting lineup, going with Zach LaVine, Kevin Martin, Andrew Wiggins, Adreian Payne, and Justin Hamilton.  This may not be the exact number, but I count 54,328 different starting lineups this season for the Pups.

An almost equally struggling Magic squad (22-53 coming into Friday night) started with Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Nikola Vucevic, and Dewayne Dedmon.  The Magic have underachieved this year and fired Jacque Vaughn last month.  This is their new head coach (James Borrego) …

Put your hands up if you are excited to coach the Orlando Magic!!  (Associated Press)

Put your hands up if you are excited to coach the Orlando Magic!! (Associated Press)

You may notice that I’m stalling in actually writing about Friday night’s game …

The Magic opened the game strong, quickly opening up a double digit lead.  They shot 60% in the opening quarter, compared to the Wolves’ 35%.  The Wolves’ starting backcourt shot a combined 1-7 from the field for 3 points.  Not ideal.  At the end of the 1st quarter, the Magic held a 29-23 lead.

Tobias Harris scored the first 8 points for the Magic in the second quarter, as they reopened a double digit lead in the early minutes of the quarter.  After cutting the Magic lead down to six with just a few minutes to play in the half, the Wolves started getting sloppy (again) with the basketball and managed to give back any traction they made.  At the half, the Magic held a 52-42 advantage.

Halftime highlights:

  • Wolves held a huge advantage at the free throw line, going 14-16 from the line, while the Magic were only 6-10.
  • However, the Wolves were 0-8 from 3PT range.
  • Chase Budinger had a nice half with 9 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block and 1 steal in 17 minutes.

The Magic and Wolves went back and forth throughout the 3rd quarter.  Every time the Wolves made a small run to cut the lead down to six points, the Magic found a way to increase their lead back to 10+ points.  The Wolves cut the lead to four points but the Magic came back yet again and took a 72-65 lead into the final quarter.

After more back and forth, Tobias Harris drilled two three point FG’s from basically the same spot on the floor, pushing the Magic lead to 86-74.  In the end, the Magic walk out of the Target Center with a 97-84 victory over the Timberwolves.

A few notes from the game:

  • The Magic out-rebound the Wolves 53-30 on the night, including a 20-3 advantage on the offensive boards.
  • The teams combined for 39 turnovers.
  • Wiggins led the Wolves with a somewhat quiet 22 points.
  • LaVine finished the game with a box score of 10/5/5, but his performance was significantly worse than those numbers.  Sorry, they were.


Rockets Blast Past Timberwolves, 120-110

Wolves fans only have to keep their eyes on Andrew Wiggins to enjoy what should be a great future. (Credit: Scott Halleran, Getty Images)

Wolves fans only have to keep their eyes on Andrew Wiggins to enjoy what should be a great future. (Credit: Scott Halleran, Getty Images)


Our Minnesota Timberwolves traveled to Houston to take on the Rockets Friday night.  Both teams are dealing with a slew of injuries, but only one of them was clinching a playoff spot with a victory on Friday.  Dwight Howard returned to action in the Rockets’ last game, but Houston also lost Patrick Beverley.  With that, Kevin McHale’s starting lineup included Jason Terry, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Josh Smith, and Howard.  Flip Saunders countered his coaching buddy with Lorenzo Brown, Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, Adreian Payne, and Gorgui Dieng.

As you may have been able to predict given those starting lineups, the Wolves were overmatched largely throughout.  The Rockets came out flying all over the court, opening up a quick 11-2 run and leading to an early timeout from Flip.  Minnesota scored the next six points, but the Rockets answered with a few three pointers.  It turned into a playground game for the final eight minutes of the first quarter – a good number of turnovers, steals, loose balls, etc.

Looking for a bright spot on the Wolves (outside of Wiggins) and look no further than Chase Budinger, who was 2-2 from the field for five points in five minutes on the court.  Entering Friday night’s action, Chase had scored in double digits in each of the past seven games.

At the end of the first quarter, the Rockets held a 31-22 advantage.  At the end of the first half, the Rockets held a 10 point lead, 60-50.

Halftime highlights:

  • Rockets’ announcer on Wiggins, “He’s the future of the league”.  (True story)  Wiggins got to the line 12 times (9 makes) in the first half.  That’s unreal!
  • Ugly basketball, as the Rockets had 13 turnovers and the Pups had 8 of their own
  • Wolves were killed on the boards, as Houston held a 22-10 advantage

After struggling from the field in the first half, James Harden exploded in the third quarter, hitting his first four three point attempts coming out of the locker room.  When it looked like the Wolves might pack it up, a spark from LaVine and Payne led an 11-3 run to cut the lead to single digits, forcing Kevin McHale to get out of his seat while on the sideline … the horror.

At the end of the third quarter, the Rockets maintained a ten point lead, 90-80.  Both teams put up 30 points in the quarter, led by James Harden who had already gone over 30 points in the game before the final quarter even began.

Every single, small run that the Wolves went on was met with a barrage of three pointers from the Rockets.  In the end, the Timberwolves simply didn’t have enough firepower to stay with one of the better teams in the NBA.  With the victory, the Rockets are now officially in the playoffs.

The final score, Rockets 120 – Timberwolves 110

A few notes from the game:

  • A somewhat quiet double-double for Gorgui Dieng, who finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds
  • Wiggins finished with 31 points, while Budinger finished with a season high 23 points
  • The Rockets attempted 44 three point field goals (ridiculous) and they made 20 of them (also ridiculous)