Timberwolves Tamed by San Antonio

The Timberwolves knew that playing the Spurs on the road would be tough, and shooting 33.5 percent from the field made it impossible to keep up with the No. 1 team. In the end, Minnesota landed on the short end of the 104-86 final score.

Nikola Pekovic led the team with 22 points, followed by Kevin Love with 14. San Antonio boasted six players who scored in the double-digits, including three guys off the bench.

Minnesota appeared a step behind from the beginning, missing 12 shots in the first quarter and proving unable to capitalize off of five Spurs turnovers.

spurs

The Wolves had a big second quarter, though, and looked to turn it around. Minnesota outscored the Spurs 28-24 and entered halftime trailing by only three points. Pekovic scored 14 of his 22 points in the first half, and he came up huge with a slam dunk early in the game. [Read more…]

Minnesota Timberwolves 108 – San Antonio Spurs 95

Photo Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Photo Credit: Yahoo! Sports

The Pups had a chance to close the season on a winning note Wednesday night in San Antonio after losing their last home game at Target Center to Utah on Monday.  The Spurs came into Wednesday’s game a little banged up and it shouldn’t have been too surprising to see them give their regulars limited roles in the game.

Nikola Pekovic sat out Wednesday’s game again, finishing the season having missed 20 of the 82 games, allowing legitimate questions about his durability given his forthcoming free agency.  That said, taking out Love’s 18 game season, Big Pek led the team in scoring and rebounding, with 16.3 and 8.8 per game respectively.

The Timberwolves opened the game with Rubio, Ridnour, Kirilenko, Williams, and Stiemsma.  The Spurs countered with Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, and Matt Bonner.  Minnesota actually got off to a pretty strong start, jumping out to an 11-4 lead.  About halfway through the 1st quarter, the Wolves held a 20-11, with Tim Duncan looking like the only Spur to have brought a live body to the court on the evening.  Conversely, each Pup starter was on the board with at least one basket, led by Rubio and Williams.

In typical Spurs fashion, they continued to chip away into the lead over the next few minutes, tying the game at 24 with about one minute to go.  Rubio and Budinger hit a pair of three points in the final minute or so to give the Wolves a 30-24 lead going into the 2nd quarter. [Read more…]

Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves vs San Antonio Spurs, 3-12-13

No Parker, no sympathy from Pups fans.  Photo credit: ESPN.com

No Parker, no sympathy from Pups fans. Photo credit: ESPN.com

The 49-15 San Antonio Spurs visit the Target Center Tuesday night to take on the 21-39 Timberwolves.  Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic remain sidelined with injury, while Tony Parker will miss the game for the Spurs again.  The Spurs are coming off of a victory Monday night against the OKC Thunder.  The Wolves are coming off of a lost weekend where they were blown out in Denver on Saturday and destroyed by the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night.

To say this is a mismatch might be an understatement.  The Spurs now hold a two game lead over the Thunder for the top seed in the Western Conference, while the Wolves do a little bit more “tanking” before their regulars are all ready to go, that includes Kevin Love and Chase Budinger who may be able to return soon.

These two teams have met twice earlier in the season, with the Spurs taking both games by double digits.  Back on 1/13, the Spurs handled the Wolves in San Antonio by a final score of 106-88.  The Wolves got a little bit closer on 2/6 at the Target Center, but ultimately falling again 104-94.

Player to watch:

Tim Duncan – The Wolves are missing their starting front line of Pekovic, Love, and Kirilenko.  The old man should be able to pick apart the Wolves in his 24 minutes or so of action.  While it pains me to say this, appreciate what Duncan brings to the table and what he has meant to the Spurs franchise.  I imagine this is one of the last few times he will be stepping foot on the TC floor.

Match-up to watch:

Alexey Shved vs. Manu Ginobili.  A look at a past 6th man of the year award winner vs. a potential future winner (not this year).  Shved and Ginobili have similar builds.  While Shved has hit the rookie wall, Ginobili keeps plugging along.  Now in his 11th season in the NBA, Manu continues to be a double digit scorer and leading contributor off the bench for the Spurs.

Predictions:

The only reason this game is of interest is because the Wolves are playing for “The Champs Belt” tonight.  The Wolves held the belt for approximately 24 hours earlier this season and will be looking to shock the world.  If NBA League Pass drops Sean Elliott on my broadcast, I’m likely just checking in from afar from time to time.  (If you haven’t checked out “The Champs Belt”, please do take a look for a good look at basketball history.)

Final score prediction: Timberwolves 78, Spurs 94

Three stars of the game predictions:

  1. Tim Duncan
  2. Kawhi Leonard
  3. Ricky Rubio

Let’s go Wolves!

Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves host San Antonio Spurs, 2/6/13

Tony ParkerSetting the stage:

The Timberwolves will host the league-best San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night and hope to bring the same effort and energy that they displayed in the fourth-quarter in their latest loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Coming off his best performance of the season in which he recorded 15 points and 14 assists, Ricky Rubio will be matched up against perennial All-Star and future Hall of Fame point guard Tony Parker.

Tim Duncan is expected to play after an MRI on his injured right ankle showed no structural damage. Once again Minnesota will face one of the top power forwards in the NBA and will have their hands full in the paint. Derrick Williams, who has really struggled since the return of Wolves head coach Rick Adelman, will need to really step up on the defensive end if the Pups are to have a decent chance tonight. The undersized “tweener” forward will defend a taller, longer and stronger player in Duncan who is probably the best power forward to ever play the game. At the tender age of 36, Timmy D is not only enjoying an All-Star season, but also arguably his best season in the past five years. Give a lot of credit to San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich for knowing how to take care of his aging team.

Andrei Kirilenko will sit tonight due to a strained quad and rebounding will definitely be an issue for the shorthanded Pups. I do not like to be pessimistic, but unless Ricky and Dante have breakout games, tonight could be a tough 48 minutes for Minnesota.

Player to watch:

Kawhi Leonard – With no AK-47, the second year player out of San Diego State has an opportunity to exploit the Wolves on the perimeter and in the paint. A tremendous rebounder and defender, Leonard meshed well with the Spurs group of veterans since day 1 and made many teams pay for allowing him to slip to the 15th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Many have compared him to former Spurs defensive specialist Bruce Bowen, and at only 21 years of age the sky is the limit for the young forward.

Match-up to watch:

Ricky Rubio vs. Tony Parker – Parker is one of the top transition playmakers in the NBA, and at the age of 30 does not appear to have lost a step. However, he will not have an easy day with Rubio defending him, and Tricky Ricky hopes to ride the confidence from his good last week of play into a game that very few expect the T-Wolves to win. Although the Spaniard is still not 100% as he regains strength in his knee, his ability to pick apart slower defenses should provide him with a few opportunities tonight. Last season we saw Ricky enjoy success against older teams that included the Spurs, but that was back when he had fellow star Kevin Love at his side.

Predictions:

The Pups have steadily improved since Adelman returned to his head coaching duties, but face a very tough opponent in a nationally televised game. I expect Minnesota to put up a good fight and I predict that Rubio and Dante will both have solid performances, but I cannot see the Pups escaping this one.

Final score prediction: Timberwolves 82, Spurs 91

Three stars of the game predictions:

  1. Tim Duncan
  2. Kawhi Leonard
  3. Ricky Rubio

Minnesota Timberwolves 88 – San Antonio Spurs 106

rickyrubio_tonyparkerGet ready for one of the seediest recaps you will ever see on this site.  I’m a Seahawks fan and they lost a heartbreaker earlier today.  Now, I have to watch the Twolves at half strength play the Spurs, who are coming off a bad loss to the Grizzlies.  This should be fun.

The Pups opened up with Ridnour, Shved, Kirilenko, Cunningham, and Pekovic.  The Spurs countered with Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, and Tiago Splitter.  Let’s just agree on the fact that this game should be called on account of my misery.

As an added bonus, NBA LP puts on the Spurs broadcast and I now have to listen to Sean Elliott talk for the next three hours.  The Pups actually got off to a decent start with Pekovic down low and Cunningham getting open jump shots.  Luke Ridnour’s mid-range game also aided in the early minutes as the Wolves jumped out to a 16-7 lead going into the first timeout of the game.

The Spurs came back and outscored the Wolves 17-5 to end the quarter, with the Pups leaving a lot of points on the floor with too many missed tips and bad decisions on both ends of the floor.  After one quarter, the Spurs led 24-21 and Sean Elliott only annoyed me approximately four times.  He is, unquestionably, the worst analyst on broadcast TV.  You cannot convince me otherwise.

The second quarter started with more of the same from the Spurs, widening their lead to eleven points within the first few minutes of the quarter.  Outside of a strong move to the hoop from DWill, the Wolves second unit looked terrible.  Greg Stiemsma has looked awful the last few weeks and his first few minutes on the court did nothing to disprove or change that.

Nikola Pekovic and Luke Ridnour made up for the poor minutes thrown in from Rubio and Stiemsma in the second quarter to cut the Spurs lead to two points going into the final minutes of the quarter.  I know that this is sacrilege, but the Pups really need to decide what to do with Rubio.  He’s clearly not the same player right now and he is not looking for his shot at all.

At the end of the first half, the Spurs led 55-50, which was preceded with a Boris Diaw three pointer and Luke Ridnour missing an off balance jumper with plenty of time left in the quarter.  To say it has been a long day is an understatement.  Here are two quick halftime thoughts:

  • Sean Elliott is the worst NBA analyst on television.
  • It is going to be a struggle for the Wolves to stay competitive with the current roster.  I just can’t see this team, as is, staying in the hunt for the playoffs.

Less than a minute into the second half, Popovich calls a timeout to try to fix things.  As much as I loathe the Spurs, I really like Pop.  His no nonsense style goes a long way in my book.  His complete disdain for interviews with sideline reporters also makes me giddy.

After cutting the lead to one point, the Wolves went cold and couldn’t execute on offense.  As an added bonus, they started playing terrible defense leading to an 11-0 run by the Spurs.  Even with the lead, the Spurs managed to complain after every whistle.  Is there a more loathsome team in the league?

At the end of the third quarter, the Pups managed to keep the game close with decent play from their PG combo of Luke and JJ.  While it felt much worse, the Spurs were only up 78-71 going into the final twelve minutes.

A wild sequence of plays led to a couple of three pointers from the Spurs to give them an 88-75 lead and this game felt all but over.  Rubio was on the floor during this small stint from the Spurs and I took a quick look at the box score to see a game low -19 for Ricky thus far.  DWill was on the floor at the same time and looked just as bad.

I’m not sure what happened or what was said, but Popovich just got tossed after a JJ Barea layup and three point play.  Unfortunately, all momentum was killed when DWill missed two lay-ups and the Spurs ran down the floor for a dunk, followed by multiple misses from the Wolves and multiple Spurs buckets.  With the lead increased to 19 points, my concentration level began to wane.

The final score of tonight’s game was 106-88, with the Pups dropping their third straight.

Keys of the Game

  • Shooting Percentages – It really can be a simple game.  The Wolves were 33-89 from the field for 37% while the Spurs finished 45-80 for a remarkable 56%.  You aren’t going to win too many games with those numbers going against you.
  • Three Pointers – Another terrible night from beyond arc for the Wolves.  4-16 tonight, while the Spurs hit 8-21 and seemed to hit a three pointer every time the Wolves tried to make a run.

Three Stars of the Game

  1. Tony Parker – 20 points and 6 assists, blowing past any of the Twolves’ PG’s in the process
  2. Tim Duncan – Wait for it: 12 points, 9 rebounds, 7 blocks, 5 assists, and 3 steals.  How old is this guy again?
  3. Gary Neal – Perfect 3-3 beyond the arc, putting the dagger in the Wolves.  Finished with 15 points off the bench in just 21 minutes

The Wolves are back in action Monday night against the Mavs.