Recap – Timberwolves 109, Knicks 100

 

Timberwolves take out the Knicks to remain undefeated! (Photo credit: Star Tribune)

Timberwolves take out the Knicks to remain undefeated!
(Photo credit: Star Tribune)

So … we are back on the game recaps and we’re coming off of two very nice wins at the Target Center for the Twolves (and a personally bias Seahawks win, so a lot of excitement!).  The Pups first road game took them to the world’s most famous arena.  No surprises in the starting lineup tonight for either team.  For the Wolves; Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love, and Pekovic.  For the Knicks; Felton, Shumpert, Bargnani, Anthony, and Chandler.

Game Summary

The Pups came out of the gate firing on all cylinders for the third consecutive time, jumping out to a 20+ point advantage in the first quarter.  The Knicks didn’t roll over however and slowly made it into an exciting game that wasn’t decided until the final minutes of the fourth quarter.  However, good teams win on the road and handle adversity, and that is what we saw signs of last night at MSG from the Wolves.

First Half 

The Wolves dominated the 1st quarter and it looked like they were going to run the Knicks, and their fans, out of the building early.  Carmelo Anthony picked up two quick fouls and had to sit early.  This was very similar to the OKC game, as the Knicks had nothing on the offensive end of the floor without Melo, just like OKC showed without Kevin Durant.

One other note that I jotted down from the 1st quarter is that Ricky Rubio must make open jump shots more frequently, particularly of the mid-range variety.  That said, almost immediately after he missed a 16 footer, Rubio picked off a pass and drove in for an open layup.  You can’t stay mad at Ricky Rubio, he makes it impossible.  At the end of the 1st, the Twolves held a 40-19 advantage!

The Knicks outscored the Wolves in the 2nd quarter, 30-24.  This was largely due to sloppy play from the Wolves and not playing within Adelman’s offensive system.  Derrick Williams had a decent stretch of minutes in the quarter on both ends of the floor.  If he can keep this up, the Wolves are going to be very dangerous.  At the half, the Wolves still held a respectable, double-digit lead – 64-49.

Half-time notes:

  • When the Wolves stay in the system, they have all of the pieces to make beautiful basketball
  • Kevin Love will be “the best PF in the game” to the pundits by Christmas – 18, 7, and 3 at the half and a few spectacular outlet passes
  • Wing play has been phenomenal early on in the season … Thank you Kevin Martin & Corey Brewer!

Second Half 

Once again, the Wolves started the 3rd quarter hot, building their lead back up to 20 points and taking a 71-51 lead.  However, the Knicks weren’t finished, as Melo, Metta World Peace, and Raymond Felton helped the home team scratch back into it.  Felton sliced through the middle of the paint about half way through the 3rd quarter and it started a small run for the team, bringing the crowd back into the game.

One thing that the Wolves moved away from in the 3rd quarter was feeding Kevin Martin the ball – who was making jump shots and getting to the line earlier in the game.  It was almost like the team read my notes in the timeout as Martin scored two buckets towards the end of the quarter to reestablish a 15 point advantage, 93-78.

The Timberwolves couldn’t buy a basket for a few minutes in the 4th quarter, but the Knicks kept firing away from long range vs. doing anything related to running an offense.  Eventually, the Knicks made one last, big run to cut it to a five point advantage for the Wolves, when Adelman finally called a timeout.  Coming out of the timeout, the Wolves ran a play to get Love a three point shot.  While the shot went in, I really want to see Love play more inside than he has been the last two games.  I’m not sure how much of this is by design vs. not, but I’d like to see a little bit more of a post-up game from the team.  (I’m nitpicking a 3-0 start by the way.)

Despite cutting the lead to two points, 100-98 with about 5 minutes left in the game, the Wolves took the body blows from the Knicks and withstood them.  They closed the game out strong defensively, outscoring the Knicks 9-2 the rest of the way, pulling out the 109-100 victory!

Three Stars of the Game

  1. Kevin Love – 34, 15, and 5 for Love – welcome back to “Best PF in the NBA” status, we missed you!  Added bonus for the Spike Lee trash talk and high-five.
  2. Kevin Martin – 30 points on 9-12 shooting, 5-5 from 3PT range, and 7-9 from the FT line.  Wing play … YES!
  3. Metta World Peace – I’m actually giving this to MWP despite Melo’s gaudy box score (22 & 17) because his two fouls early were a stomach punch for the team.  MWP finished a team high +17 on the floor, finishing with 17 points, 4 rebounds, and solid defense in his 21 minutes of action. 

Key Takeaways

  • The Wolves remain undefeated and for only the second time in franchise history, start a season 3-0
  • Tough test tonight, as they turn right around and will play in Cleveland Monday night
  • I have no idea how the Wolves are getting off to such great starts, but please stay on the same routine for pregame

Game Notes:

The rookies didn’t receive any playing time Sunday night, but look for them to play at least a few minutes in Cleveland, given it is the team’s first back to back of the season.  I would imagine the largest piece would be Gorgui Dieng’s role on Monday, as Ronnie Turiaf is going to be out for a while.

Timberpups Weekly Preview 2014 – Week 2

 

Early smiles for the Timberwolves this season! (Photo credit: Kentucky.com)

Early smiles for the Timberwolves this season!
(Photo credit: Kentucky.com)

Setting the stage:

I have never been as excited for the second week of the NBA season as I am for this coming week!  Why?  For the first time, I will be frequenting the Target Center for some Timberwolves action!  Yes!!  I will be in town for the Wednesday and Friday games this week, so if anyone is interested in grabbing a Teddy Bruschi or Charles Brewkowski before or after either game, please do shoot me a note here or on Twitter.

Aside from that shameless promotion, the Timberwolves are coming into the week off of a promising week – going 3-0 with a dramatic home opener, a blowout against OKC, and a solid road win at MSG – despite giving up a big lead – on Sunday.  As it always seems to be with the Wolves, with the good comes a little bad, with the team announcing that Ronnie Turiaf has a fractured elbow and is out indefinitely.  That will put Gorgui Dieng in the spotlight early on in his rookie season and he’ll need to step up and contribute behind Nikola Pekovic.

The Wolves enter the week looking like an offensive juggernaut, averaging 110 points per game through the first three.  The team is also top 10 in the league in rebounds and assists per game, at 43 and 23 respectively.  Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio are leading the way in the box score, but it has been solid contributions from the entire rotation that have helped the team to its 3-0 start.

Let’s see if this can continue into week two.  Here are a few thoughts for each game this week.

Game 4: Monday, 11/4, 6pm – Timberwolves @ Cleveland Cavs (TV: FS North)

The Wolves will travel to Cleveland off of Sunday night’s game at MSG, with the opponent having an off day to recover from Saturday’s game against the Pacers.  The Cavs are off to a slow start this season, entering the game 1-2 thus far.  They are near the bottom of the league in scoring at only 85.3 ppg.  Kyrie Irving is leading the team in scoring and assists but his shot is a bit off right now.  Somewhat surprisingly, the Cavs have gotten minutes from Anderson Varejao and Andrew Bynum, who may make things a little tough in the paint.

Opponent to watch:

Kyrie Irving – While there are a few intriguing storylines with the Cavs (Michael Bennett and Bynum particularly), I’m giving the nod to Irving for this go-round given the overall excitement he can create and the speed in which he can play at.  Hopefully Rubio can contain Irving and/or Kyrie’s shot remains off for one more night.

Predictions:

I’m not predicting a loss until the Wolves drop a game.  I wouldn’t be surprised though if the team falls here, given the back to back schedule.  How is that for hedging bets?  A big game from Kevin Love puts the Wolves over.  Final score: Timberwolves 98, Cavs 92

Game 5: Wednesday, 11/6, 7pm – Golden State Warriors @ Timberwolves (TV: FS North)

I visit the Twin Cities with the Warriors in tow from Philly.  Not really, they should already be in town.  Wednesday’s game at Target Center is the middle game for Golden State’s three game road swing.  This is one of the most exciting teams to watch in the NBA and we can expect a high scoring affair.  Klay Thompson dropped a cool 38 points on opening night and the Wolves will need to find a way to contain him and Stephen Curry.  The Wolves frontcourt is also going to have to find a way to slow down David Lee, who put up gaudy stats in week one.

Opponent to watch:

Andre Iguodala – Many Wolves fans have clamored for AI2 for years (I’m not one of them) and Wednesday is another opportunity to see him play at the Target Center.  Through the team’s first three games, AI2 has not been scoring much, but that isn’t necessarily what GS needs from him.  He is however, filling out the box score, contributing in all aspects of the game – passing, rebounding, steals, and blocks.

Predictions:

The highest scoring regular season game in NBA history (without overtime) was on 11/2/90 between the Warriors and Nuggets.  The teams combined for 320 points.  The bar is set for this game, make it happen!  Final score: Timberwolves 130, Warriors 122

(I have never, ever predicted 130 points for an NBA team.  This will be a special night all-around.)

Game 6: Friday, 11/8, 7pm – Dallas Mavericks @ Timberwolves (TV: FS North)

The Mavericks will visit the Target Center on Friday night, coming off of a nationally televised game Wednesday night in OKC.  The team made several, significant moves in the offseason and to this point, it has paid off.  They finished the first week of the season 2-1, with wins at home against Atlanta and Memphis, and the loss coming on the road in Houston.  Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis are off to hot starts, each averaging more than 20 ppg.

Opponent to watch:

Dirk Nowitzki – My eyes are going to be on Dirk, as I have never seen him play in person.  He may have lost a step, but I’m intrigued to see just how sweet his offense looks in person.

Predictions:

I’m confident that the Twolves will win this game.  That’s never a good thing.  It will likely be the polar opposite of Wednesday’s game against GS though.  Rubio shines in this one and I get to gloat about it all the way back to NJ.  Final score: Timberwolves 96, Mavericks 88

Game 7: Sunday, 11/10, 8:30pm – Timberwolves @ LA Lakers (TV: FS North)

The Wolves head west to take on the Lakers Sunday night to start a back to back against both LA teams.  The Lakers will come into the game off of a three game road trip that took them through two-thirds of Texas and New Orleans.

This will be Wolves’ fans first opportunity to see the almighty Wes Johnson in purple and gold.  Have I mentioned him in the past?  I think I have.  While we won’t see Kobe Bryant, I still think this team can tread water for a while.  This past Friday night, the team stayed with Duncan-less Spurs and almost pulled it out.

Opponent to watch:

Wes Johnson – Just kidding, unless you want to induce a coma.

Pau Gasol – This will be a tough match for Pekovic, given Pau has returned to the middle of the floor.  Pau is putting up solid numbers early on in the season.  With Kaman as the backup, we might see a little more of Kevin Love at the Center spot, as Pekovic and Dieng will have their hands full.

Predictions:

I expect a big night from Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer going against the Lakers’ wings.  Final score: Timberwolves 103, Lakers 94

Wrap-up:

A pretty busy week for the Wolves lies ahead, with four games in seven nights.  The countdown has already begun for my trip to the Twin Cities.  Looking forward to meeting as many of you as I can over anything but a Martina Navratibrewski (because you can’t have more than ‘ski’ at the end of the root word).

Here’s to hoping the Pups continue their winning ways!  Please don’t let me be there for the first loss.  Please!  Let’s go Wolves!

Timberwolves Summer League Rewind

Shabazz Muhammad at Timberwolves Summer League

“Here’s what we need you to do Shabazz…”
(Photo credit: Chase Stevens / Las Vegas Review Journal)

While the Summer League rolls on tonight and tomorrow, the Timberwolves’ participation in the tournament ended this past Friday.  After falling to the D-League Select team for the second time on Thursday, the Wolves were bounced out of the tournament, wrapping up with a consolation game on Friday – their fifth game in as many nights.

The Pups finished the tournament with a 3-3 record.  Their wins came against the Heat, Kings, and Blazers, while they lost to the D-League team twice and lost at the buzzer to the Suns.  What did we learn from the Timberwolves Summer League session?  I think there are a few takeaways from the week.

  1. Shabazz Muhammad is going to work his tail off to get meaningful minutes.
  2. As Flip alluded to during one of the broadcasts, Gorgui Dieng is ready to play in the NBA from a defensive standpoint, but has a good amount of work to do on the other end of the floor.
  3. Beyond Muhammad and Dieng, there is likely only to be one open roster spot and a few guys from this team made a decent case for that spot.

[Read more...]

Timberwolves Sign Ronnie Turiaf

Flip Saunders remains heavily involved in free agency, as agent Mark Bartelstein announced that his client, Ronnie Turiaf, has agreed to a two year deal with the Timberwolves.  The deal is reportedly worth $3.2 million over the two years.

Ronnie Turiaf is an eight year veteran who most recently played with the Clippers last season.  The Timberwolves will be his seventh team in those eight seasons.  While his stats may be unimpressive, Turiaf is a player that knows and accepts his role on a team and is willing to do what is needed of him.  Most specifically, that role is play strong defense in the middle and grab a few rebounds, allowing the starting frontcourt to get a breather.

What does this mean for the Timberwolves?  Quite honestly, I can’t remember an offseason when they have been so active.  Assuming Nikola Pekovic is back and the team can stay relatively healthy over the course of the season, the Wolves are a virtual lock to make the playoffs.  The roster has never been this deep before.  While the ‘03/’04 team was more talented at the top, this coming season’s roster is stronger from top to bottom in my opinion. [Read more...]