Recap – Timberwolves 121, Pistons 94

Corey Brewer goes "up high and down hard" (Harlan, Kevin) (Photo credit: Timberwolves Facebook page)

Corey Brewer goes “up high and down hard” (Harlan, Kevin)
(Photo credit: Timberwolves Facebook page)

The 9-11 Timberwolves travelled to Detroit to take on the 10-11 Pistons.  The Wolves went into the game a disappointing 3-7 on the road, so nothing was to be taken for granted.  No changes in the Wolves’ starting lineup: Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love, and Pekovic.  The Pistons opened up with Brandon Jennings, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, and Andre Drummond.

Game Summary [Read more...]

Timberpups Weekly Preview | December 9th

This is the Timberpups weekly preview for the week of December 9th.

It’d be nice to have strong performances from the Minnesota Timberwolves this week. Looking ahead at the schedule, which is becoming fairly easier, there are some decent opportunities to get momentum moving in the right direction.

The Wolves have the opportunity to be, on paper, a better team than their opponent three of four times this week.

The Wolves have the opportunity to be, on paper, a better team than their opponent three of four times this week.

 

Tuesday December 10th. 

Wolves at Detroit Pistons. 

These two met at the Palace in Detroit during the preseason, this time the game counts. If you can remember the preseason meeting was a dramatic loss, Josh Smith hit a three at the buzzer and the Wolves lost a ‘heartbreaker’. The Pistons, like the Wolves, are hovering around .500 with a record of 10-11. Detroit had five players averaging double figures and enjoy a moderate paced game, picking-and-choosing when to run in transition — mobile big men; Smith, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe aren’t slouches moving up and down the floor. The Pistons rank 14th in pace per game (the number of possessions a team uses per game) while the Wolves rank second.

Chauncey Billups and Wil Bynum are out indefinitely, Rodney Stuckey missed Sunday’s game with left knee tendinitis and it’s unsure if he’ll be ready to go for Monday’s game.

Prediction (and I’m no good at these): Wolves punish Pistons — 117-98.

 

Josh Smith whining, about something -- who cares?

Josh Smith whining, about something — who cares?

 

Wednesday December 12th.

Wolves -happily- welcome Philadelphia 76ers. 

There couldn’t be a better time to play the, less than stellar, 76ers — especially at Target Center. Philadelphia is allowing more points per game than any other team in basketball and are considered one of the favorites in the race to “Tank for Wiggins”. Former ‘potential’ Timberwolf Lorenzo Brown will be in the building, the Sixers recently signed him to fulfill the void that was created at point guard due to multiple injuries. One of those injuries was suffered by Michael Carter-Williams, the Sixers rookie has been a glimmering bright spot so far this year averaging 18 points and 7 assists per game but his status for this game is uncertain. “MCW” has a bacterial infection in his right-knee. Evan Turner will need to do a LOT for the Sixers to have a chance in this one.

Prediction: Wolves scoff at the Sixers — 110-89.

Barea drives hoping to score during a meeting with Sixers in the preseason

Barea drives hoping to score during a meeting with Sixers in the preseason

Friday December 13th.

Wolves at San Antonio Spurs.

This would be a rematch between these two teams, but because of the inexplicable generator fire in the Arena at Mexico City last week it’s the first meeting between these two this season. It’s no surprise that the Spurs are one of the best team’s in the Western Conference, this is the Wolves toughest challenge for the week. San Antonio is 11th in the league in offensive rating and 3rd on the defensive side of things. I’ll take the Gregg Popovich approach on this one by not saying much more; The Wolves have work cut out for them against a premier NBA franchise on the road.

Prediction: Wolves slip-up against the Spurs, late — 96-101

Rubio finding a way to pass around Danny Green to someone open in the lane for a dunk, probably.

Rubio finding a way to pass around Danny Green to someone open in the lane for a dunk, probably.

Sunday December 15th. 

Wolves at Memphis Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies may have proved a more difficult challenge than the Spurs were, but this matchup is a bit more even. Marc Gasol and Quincy Pondexter are sidelined indefinitely because of their respective injuries — a huge bonus for the Wolves. Tony Allen is also uncertain as of now, but his condition may be updated during the course of the week. The Grizz are 10-11 on the season thus far, but have suffered 20+ losses in their last two games; falling by 20 to the Los Angeles Clippers and 27 at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.

Mike Conley, Jerryd Bayless and Nick Calathes are now the key components to success in Memphis, hopefully the Wolves are able to take care of business against a team wounded by injuries.

On a lighter note, it’s likely we’ll see Jon Lauer. He’s a Minnesota native (Orono) and a University of Wisconsin Graduate (Something Alex knows very well). It’s always fun seeing guys I’ve watched in high school play at the professional level, though it doesn’t do much for my self-esteem.

Prediction: Wolves go Walkin’ in Memphis and leave victorious — 100-86.

Mike Conley is good, that's pretty much what I got -- but can he carry an injured Grizz roster passed the Wolves at home?

Mike Conley is good, that’s pretty much what I got — but can he carry an injured Grizz roster passed the Wolves at home?

 

Wrap Up: Wolves begin the week in Detroit, head back home for a cake-walk (or what should be), venture down south to hostile territory and hit Beale Street for a team suffering the blues. The travel continues, though it’s dispersed and there will be NO -I REPEAT ZERO- back-to-backs this week. That means there’s no excuse, other than being out played for at LEAST a 3-1 week.

 

That’s all for now.

Zach

Recap – Thunder 113, Timberwolves 103

kevindurant_kevinlove_usabasketball-280x165

After Saturday night’s win in Dallas to bring the team back to .500, the Pups were right back at it on Sunday night to take on the Thunder.  Going into Sunday’s game the Thunder were an impressive 11-3 on the season and a perfect 8-0 at home.  No changes in the Wolves’ starting lineup: Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love, and Pekovic.  No surprises in the Thunder lineup either: Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, and Kendrick Perkins.  Perhaps the only surprise is that Perkins is still in the starting lineup over Steven Adams.  I digress.

Game Summary

Another highly entertaining match-up against the Thunder for fans that unfortunately ended in disappointment.  The Wolves didn’t trail in this game until an OKC 8-0 run to start the 4th quarter put them on top for the first time and for good.  The Pups never recovered from that stomach punch to start the quarter and looked gassed towards the end of the game.  [Read more...]

Recap: Wolves Mash Mavericks (Again); 112-106

The Minnesota Timberwolves entered Saturday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks hoping to put the stop to a recent six-game-road-skid, which they did; 112-106.

Vince Carter, unlike the team’s matchup earlier this month in Minnesota, was in-uniform for the Mavs, however, he would need to compensate for an inactive Jose Calderon — who was sidelined with a bruised right ankle. Calderon scored 21 points when these teams met back on November 8th.

First Half

At the end of the first quarter the Wolves led 29-24 behind the starting five’s balanced scoring effort. Nikola Pekovic led the way with 10 points, Corey Brewer, Kevin Martin and Kevin Love all scored five and Ricky Rubio scored two to go along with two assists. Things were rolling again, early, offensively. Also, trade acquisition Luc Mbah a Moute began capturing the hearts of fans almost immediatly after he entered the game. Mbah a Moute (who I may begin calling ‘MooTay’ [[MOO-tay]]) showed grit, determination and toughness throughout the evening.

The Mavs were able to sustain the Wolves, energetic, -up-and-down- pace of basketball throughout the second quarter. Gal Mekel started at point guard for the Mavs due to Calderon’s absence, but Monta Ellis was trying to “have it all” offensively. Mekel ended the half with two points and two assists while Ellis, who was doing most of the ball-handling, lukewarmly scored 11 points on four-of-seven shooting from the field. Dirk Nowitzki, while potent, remained relatively at bay throughout most of the first half — “Dirk” was held to nine points and also had four assists. At halftime the Wolves led the Mavs; 54-47.

Second Half

The balanced scoring attack continued but so did the efforts of Ellis and the third quarter was a wash, both teams scored 30 points. Love scored eight, Rubio scored six and Pek continued to pound against a -sturdy- Samuel Dalembert by tallying six more to his 13 points first-half points. Ellis, who is the Mavericks’ leader in assists this season, scored 11 and had three-dimes and the game entered the final quarter.

Both sides tightened the defense and it became a battle, possession by possession, trying to claw-ahead or keep-a-lead. Nowitzki couldn’t be contained any longer, he scored 10 on five of six shooting but it was the Mavs’ bench that contributed 15 of the home team’s 29 fourth-quarter points. At one point Dallas cut the lead to 90-92 but the Wolves went on a run of their own behind 9 of Martin’s 27 points. With four-minutes remaining in the game Martin hit a jumper that put the Wolves up 100-92. Somebody named Kevin scored the Wolves final 12 points and Rubio remained in-the-game down-the-stretch; the Wolves executed and finished strong — it was a good, road, win.

Three Stars

  1. Kevin Martin – Scored 27 points and hit 10 of 11 foul-shots and has proven to be the Wolves only player capable of inserting the ‘dagger’ late in games.
  2. Nikola Pekovic  - Pek is a monster, he had 21 points on 10 of 13 field-goal shooting and grabbed nine rebounds, he’s been huge so far this season. The only issue is he’s playing a lot of minutes — until Gorgui Dieng proves he’s ready, Pek misses Ronny Turiaf; a lot.
  3. Kevin Love — Because, why not? Love had 21 points and 11 boards and it’s almost a formality to make him one of the game’s three-stars.

Takeaways

  • Well, the Wolves play another back-to-back game tonight in Oklahoma City — winning in Dallas was a big one.
  • Rubio executed late in the game, in huge moments, and continues to prove that leaving him open for a three-pointer is always a good idea.
  • Pek is huge and the production is nice, but, how much of a beating will his body take and will this much playing affect his health later in the season and beyond.

 

 

 

Recap – Nuggets 117, Timberwolves 110

Ricky Rubio in the new Timberwolves Lights-Out Sleeve Jersey (Photo credit: Timberwolves Facebook)

Ricky Rubio in the new Timberwolves Lights-Out Sleeve Jersey
(Photo credit: Timberwolves Facebook)

 

Our Pups returned to the Target Center to take on the Nuggets Wednesday night, kicking off the Thanksgiving weekend!  As an added bonus, the Timberwolves showcased their new “sleeve jersey” for the first time.  They will wear these jerseys in 10 games over the course of the season, per the FSN broadcast.

Once again, no surprises or changes in the Wolves’ starting five – Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love, and Pekovic.  The Nuggets opened the game with Ty Lawson, Randy Foye, Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, and JJ Hickson.

Game Summary

Wednesday night at Target Center was full of exciting plays and mounting comebacks, only to see the Wolves fall short in their efforts.  The loss drops the team to 8-9 on the season and you can find the negativity all over Twitter.  While a few numbers are below to prove it, the Pups desperately need to get more out of their bench.  (You already know this)  [Read more...]

Timberpups Weekly Preview 2014 – Week 4

Only one of these Kevin's will be frequenting the Target Center this week (Photo credit: NBA.com)

Only one of these Kevin’s will be frequenting the Target Center this week
(Photo credit: NBA.com)

Setting the stage:

The Timberwolves enter the fourth week of the season with an impressive 7-4 record.  As of Sunday morning, that is good for a sixth place tie in the Western Conference and percentage points away from second in the Northwest Division.  As most expected, the team looks like an offensive juggernaut, averaging 108.5 points per game – 3rd in the NBA.  The team is also 5th in the league in both rebounds and assists per game.

After missing one game with the flu, Kevin Martin returned to form Saturday night and remains one of the most impressive stories early on this season.  Kevin Love continues to play at an All-Star level, averaging 26.8ppg and 13.6rpg, with a PER at 29.7!  While Ricky Rubio continues to struggle with his shot, he continues to do everything else with 9.6apg and just over 3 steals per.  Ricky put up a triple double last Sunday against the Lakers and if he continues to put in ~10+ppg, this team is very dangerous.

Week 4 for the Wolves is going to be tough, with two sets of back-to-back games and travel.  A few old faces will be clashing with the Wolves this week and it is a perfect time for the team to put on some throwback jerseys (#Twolves25)!!  Here are a few thoughts for each game this week.

Game 12: Tuesday, 11/19, 6pm – Timberwolves @ Washington Wizards (TV: FSN Plus)

The Wizards will enter this game at 2-7 and Randy Wittman is the early leader in the “coach most likely to get fired first” category (again).  It would be an understatement to say the Wizards are underachieving.  The Pups will come into Tuesday’s game with two full days of rest (so will Washington).  Hopefully, this game will be as easy as it looks on paper.

Opponent to watch:

Bradley Beal – Beal is off to a great start this season in Washington, playing right around 40 minutes per game and averaging a shade under 20 points.  The second year SG will look to make it tough on Kevin Martin on both ends of the floor.

Predictions:

Despite this game being on the road, do you really think I’m picking a team coached by Randy Wittman that is grossly underperforming to start the season?  Final score: Timberwolves 106, Wizards 99

Game 13: Wednesday, 11/20, 7pm – Los Angeles Clippers @ Timberwolves (TV: FS North)

The Pups will travel back home from Washington to face the Clippers on Wednesday night and will be looking to avenge the nail biting loss that they suffered back on 11/11.  Love and Nikola Pekovic will look to continue their strong play against the solid tandem of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.  Let’s see if Matt Barnes can talk himself out of the NBA before tip-off of this game too.  (Good grief.)  In an effort to get completely ahead of ourselves, this is actually a pretty big game for the Wolves, who will look to even the season series and keep the Clippers (and others) well within their grasps when thinking about playoff seeds.  (Yep, we went there before Thanksgiving!)

Opponent to watch:

Chris Paul – The queen/king of flopping outplayed Rubio in the first outing and will likely need to do so again for the Clippers in order for them to win.

Predictions:

Quite honestly, the Wolves are dealt a tough deck here.  The Clippers will be off the night prior, and coming into the game off of a four game home stretch.  The Wolves will be flying back from DC and won’t get home until late Tuesday / early Wednesday.  The only reason I’m taking the Wolves is because, well, I hate the Clippers.  Final score: Timberwolves 114, Clippers 112

Game 14: Friday, 11/22, 7pm – Brooklyn Nets @ Timberwolves (TV: FS North)

A few things about this game and how it relates to the national TV schedule.  First, since this game is on a Friday, how in the world is it not on ESPN?  The young, improving Wolves vs. the star-studded (albeit underachieving) Brooklyn Nets.  Second, this is possibly KG’s last game ever at Target Center – even though his contract goes for one more season.  What brainpower decided that this game wasn’t worthy of ESPN coverage?

Third, and changing the focus on national media, why couldn’t this match-up, in Target Center, be on TNT on a Thursday night with Kevin Harlan in the booth?  Fourth, pivoting again, please, PLEASE, PLEASE make this a throwback jersey night!  I really don’t ask for that much.

Opponent to watch:

Kevin Garnett – I don’t care that he is averaging under 25mpg and his averages are well below what we have all become accustomed to.  This is KG and it might be his last run on the Target Center floor.  If you have the ability to get to Target Center, you should be there.

Predictions:

I’m going to predict a “throwback night” from KG as well, who will come into the game firing on all cylinders.  Assuming Deron Williams plays (D2D with an ankle injury), I’m going to predict my first loss in this weekly column for the Pups.  Final score: Nets 102, Timberwolves 100

Game 15: Saturday, 11/23, 7pm – Timberwolves @ Houston Rockets (TV: FS North)

You can literally take just about everything that I said above in the first paragraph for the Nets game and place it here too.  With Kevin McHale on the opposing sideline, this is another opportunity for the Wolves to throw on a few old school jerseys (cough, ORIGINAL BLUE’S, cough).  Do it!  DO IT!!

Opponent to watch:

James Harden – Harden has picked up right where he left off last season, stuffing the box score night in and night out.  Harden lit up Thabo Sefolosha and Kevin Martin in the playoffs last year.  While Martin had one really bad game (game 5) in that series, he bounced back nicely in game 6 to knock the Rockets out of the playoffs.

Predictions:

The Wolves can’t afford to get that “game 5 Martin” in this one, as they will be on the back end of a back-to-back against a team that will not have played since Wednesday night in another part of Texas (Dallas).  Final score: Rockets 112, Timberwolves 106

Wrap-up:

The Pups don’t catch any breaks this coming week from the scheduling gods whatsoever.  If they can go 2-2 this week, I would be content.  3-1 would be impressive and 4-0 would be glorious.  Let’s go Wolves!

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.