The Wolves continue their homestand with their first matchup of the season, against the Los Angeles Lakers. This will be the first of three meetings between these two teams, one game will be played in L.A. & the other in Minnesota following tonight's matchup.
Both of these teams have struggled mightily this season. The Timberwolves have been decimated by injuries to a number of key players and although they started the season strong, have definitely struggled this past month. The Los Angeles Lakers are a team that started the season terribly, leading to the eventual dismissal of Mike Brown and the hiring of Mike D'Antoni. It hasn't been much better under Mike #2 as it's clear his run-and-gun offense doesn't mesh with this Lakers roster. This, despite having the best shooting guard (Kobe Bryant) and center (Dwight Howard) in the game and a top 10 point guard (Steve Nash) and power forward (Pau Gasol).
A lot of criticism has fallen on the Lakers' big man, Pau Gasol (as it has these past couple seasons). Pau has struggled staying healthy with some knee & foot problems, however there's no doubting that he's still one of the premier big men in this League. I REALLy hope he's traded before the Deadline this season and I hope it isn't to Minnesota. I would love to have him on the team, but if it means we have to part with Nikola Pekovic--forget about it! Wouldn't it be cool to see him reunite in Memphis for a deal that sends Zach Randolph to LA? A Gasol brothers frontcourt?!
Anyway, back to TWolves vs. Lakers. The Lakers come into tonight's game as losers of their last eight road games as well as 3-5 in their last eight games overall. The Wolves have lost their last five straight games and are 1-10 in their last eleven games. These are two teams that are currently on the outside looking in, when it comes to the 'playoff picture'. The Lakers currently sit 10th in the Western Conference and 4 games out of the eighth seed, the Wolves are 12th out West and are currently 5 games out of that eighth seed.
The Lakers have won 19 straight games vs. the TWolves, which is the longest active streak currently in the NBA, for one team over another.
With the Lakers' struggles there have been some changes in the lineups. Last season under Mike Brown, when the Lakers 'hit a rough patch' he placed Devin Ebanks into the starting lineup for Metta World Peace. This season, under D'Antoni and the Lakers struggling mightily he's pushed the struggling Gasol to the bench in favor of Earl Clark, who has performed quite well in his new role. Clark was a part of the deal that sent both him, Howard & Chris Duhon to the Lakers.
That's not the only thing that's changed. Apparently Kobe Bryant has suddenly learned how to pass the ball. Perhaps it's a bit of Steve Nash influence, but Kobe Bryant has 48 assists over his last four games (the most assists of his career over a four-game span). I was reading an article on Kobe's passing and they had some great statistics, that I wanted to bring to this preview...
With all this in mind, I definitely wouldn't be surprised to see him go off for 30+ tonight. It's clear he holds a VERY significant advantage over the Wolves' backcourt of Ricky Rubio & Luke Ridnour or J.J. Barea & Alexey Shved. If he gets going early in this one, it's going to be a very long night Wolves fans.
The Wolves could hold a big advantage in the paint, however. Dwight Howard left the Lakers' last game (a 86-92L @PHX) midway through the fourth quarter and did not return. He re-aggravated that shoulder injury (a torn labrum) and is currently listed as 'uncertain' for Friday's game in Minneapolis. He did say he didn't want to miss any games and would likely try and give it a go on Friday, but at the same time he didn't want to do anything that would further damage his shoulder. If he's unable to go, I'd expect Pau Gasol to start in his place. The Lakers will be without their backup center: Jordan Hill. Hill suffered a hip injury that required season-ending surgery.
The Minnesota Timberwolves got Pekovic & Shved back after they both missed five straight games. However, they're still playing without: Kevin Love (hand) & Chase Budinger (knee)--both of whom should return sometime in mid-March (Bud could be slightly ahead of that--perhaps late-Feb). Brandon Roy (knees) talked to the media yesterday and basically said he had another setback and really had no idea whether or not he'd play again. Malcolm Lee (knee/hip) underwent to separate surgeries during the month of January and is out for the season.
Let's take a look at tonight's probable starting lineups...
As I said, if Dwight Howard is unable to play, expect Pau Gasol (12.8P, 7.9R, 3.7A, 1.3B) to start in his place. Don't be surprised if DH plays limited minutes either.
The Wolves' biggest concern will be Kobe Bryant. I have strong faith in Ricky vs. Nash, AK vs. MWP, D-Will & Clark and of course Pekovic vs. Howard. However, I'm VERY worried about who or how the Wolves are going to guard Kobe. Sure, Luke can try his best to deny him the ball, but eventually he's going to get it and at that point there's very little he'll be able to do to stop him. I would say the Wolves could have AK on Kobe, but then it's Luke vs. the very physical Artest (it's easier to type and I hate the guy anyway).
That's all for now, this one will be featured on ESPN as part of a doubleheader tonight. The Wolves will be the second game and therefore it'll be a late tip--8:30pmCT. Enjoy the game, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
The Minnesota Timberwolves have now lost their last five games as they've now fallen eight games below .500, with each loss the prospect of playoff basketball in Minnesota becoming less and less likely.
The Wolves got Nikola Pekovic & Alexey Shved back in the lineup for the first time since the Wolves faced the Clippers back on Jan. 17th. Rick Adelman also returned the sidelines for the first time in 11 games! All three were difference-makers in tonight's game, but unfortunately the Wolves fell just short with this six-point loss to LAC.
The TWolves played the Clippers to a draw in the first quarter, thanks in large part to a big first quarter from Minnesota's Pekovic & L.A.'s Griffin. Pek scored 8 of his 17 in the first quarter, while Blake countered with 12 of his 26. Both Kirilenko and Williams added 5 as did L.A.'s Jordan. The Wolves shot 11-for-17 (64.7%), including 2-for-2 from deep. The Clippers went 10-for-18 (55.6%) and the quarter ended with the Wolves up 25-23.
The Wolves played a second unit centered around Alexey Shved & J.J. Barea for the majority of the second quarter. J.J. dumped in 6 and Shved added 5 to the Wolves' 23 first quarter points. The Clippers got 6 apiece from Crawford and Jordan, while both Butler & Griffin added 5 each. The Clips took a 4-point lead heading into halftime. The Wolves shot just 7-for-24 FG (29%) and 1-for-8 3PT (13%) in the second quarter, while getting out-rebounded 11-15 (including allowing the Clippers to 5 offensive rebounds).
Ricky Rubio got things going for the Wolves in the third quarter as he dumped in 7 of his 9 points, with Ridnour adding 5 of his 8. The Clippers countered with 8 of Butler's 19 and 6 of Blake's 26. At one point in the third the Wolves found themselves down by double-digits, but orchestrated a run that saw them tie the game back up. The third quarter ended with the Clippers up 71-76.
Despite a valiant effort and a some big shots from Shved & Barea early in the fourth, the Wolves couldn't buy a basket late and ended up falling 96-90. J.J. Barea had 6 of his 14, while Shved added 7 of his 12 in the final quarter. The Clips were carried by J-Crawford in the final quarter as he went off for 9 of his 17 points.
Some other notes...
The Minnesota Timberwolves got a big boost with their starting center back in the lineup. He finished with yet another double-double and played a team-high 37 minutes in this one (something that bothered me when Porter was coaching the team--he'd play Pek for 25-30 minutes, when clearly we needed him out there). J.J. Barea had a solid game off the bench and hit a number of key shots in the fourth quarter. Alexey Shved also returned after missing five games and turned in a 12-point night off the bench. It clearly wasn't the most efficient night, but Alexey hit some very key shots in the second half that fueled a comeback and inevitably gave the Wolves a chance at the end of this one.
Despite being without their best player, the Clippers got some good games from a number of players tonight. The Clipper frontcourt (Butler, Griffin & Jordan) were the stars in this one. They combined for 61pts, 30reb, 1ast, 4stls, 2blks, 24-37 FG (65%), 2-4 3PT (50%) and 11-18 FT (61%).
MISC. STATS: J.J. Barea recorded his first block of the season, it's also the first block of his Timberwolves career and the 15th overall (his one block also ties a career-high, for the 15th time in his career)......Dante Cunningham tied a season-high with his four offensive rebounds......Ricky Rubio tied season-highs with 4 field goals made and 9 field goals attempted......Greg Stiemsma tied a season-high with his four free throw attempts and set a new season-high in confrontations with two.......Mickael Gelabale set a new season-high with 3 steals, which is also a new career-high.......
KEY STATS: Had one team made more than 60-70% of their free throws, this would've been a completely different game. The Wolves left 8 points at the line, 8 points that obviously could've made a big difference in the outcome of this one. The Wolves started hot (2-for-2) from deep in the first quarter, but progressively got worse as the game wore on. The Wolves played a very good game, but in order to beat a team like the Clippers it'll take more than 44% FG, 26% 3PT and 70% FT.
MISC. STATS: The Timberwolves tied a season-high with 25 fouls tonight.....The Clippers set a new season-high for a Wolves opponent with 36 free throws attempted and also tied the second-best mark (for a MIN opponent) with their 23 made free throws.......The Clippers also set a season-low with 9 three-pointers attempted by a Wolves opponent as well as tied a the second-lowest mark for a MIN opponent of the season with their 3 made threes......
That's all for now, the Wolves are back in action on Friday night when the Lakers come to town. That game will be nationally televised on ESPN and will tip at 8:30pmCT, stay tuned for a preview late tomorrow night, until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
The Minnesota Timberwolves begin a season-high six-game homestand on Wednesday night when they face the Los Angeles Clippers at the Target Center.
The Wolves will be getting a MUCH NEEDED boost on Wednesday night, as well. They'll have a trio returning. Nikola Pekovic and Alexey Shved have missed the last five games and will be playing in their first game since going down with injuries in the Jan. 17th game vs. the...Clippers! The Wolves have also been without their head coach Rick Adelman for the past eleven games. During that time, under acting head coach Terry Porter, the Wolves went 2-9.
While the Wolves begin a season-long homestand, the Clippers are going on a season-high road trip, tonight's game at the Target Center is the first of eight total games. The Clippers have struggled on the road lately and hopefully that will continue tonight as they look to avoid a fourth straight road loss.
Without their star point guard (Chris Paul) the Clippers have had stretches of games both good and bad. Blake Griffin has stepped up in Paul's absence and luckily the Clippers are armed with one of the NBA's best 'benches'. In seven starts without CP3, Eric Bledsoe is averaging 11.9ppg, 5.6rpg and 4agp.
This will be the third meeting of these two teams this season, with the Clippers taking the first two, LAC has also won four of the last five games at the Target Center.
Not only do the Wolves get back Adelman, Shved & Pekovic; they also resigned Mickael Gelabale and Chris Johnson to their second 10-day contracts of the season on Tuesday afternoon. Adelman talked about how surprisingly great they've been and he's particularly excited about getting Chris Johnson and Nikola Pekovic on the floor at the same time! I'm VERY excited to see that, myself!
The Wolves will continue to be without their quartet of injured players: Kevin Love (hand), Chase Budinger (knee), Brandon Roy (knees) and Malcolm Lee (knee/hip).
The Clippers will likely be without three of their players: Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups and Trey Thompkins. Thompkins is 'out indefinitely' with a bone bruise in his knee; Billups has been out for the majority of the season with a foot problem, though he did start participating in some contact drills, in practice yesterday; Chris Paul is listed as day-to-day with a knee injury and while he could potentially play, it sounds more than likely he'll miss this one.
The Clippers' last game was against the Portland Trailblazers on Sunday, January 27th. Coming into the game, the Clippers were riding a four-game losing streak. It was a fairly close game until the third quarter, when the Blazers were held to just 12 points, which doomed POR as the Clippers rolled to a 96-83W. Blake Griffin finished with 23pts, 5reb, 9ast, 2stls and Eric Bledsoe added 10pts, 5reb, 5ast, 1blk. The Clippers are now 1-4 in their last five games.
Let's take a look at tonight's probable starting lineups in this one...
Rick Adelman talked after yesterday's practice about whether or not he would start Ridnour or Alexey Shved in the backcourt with Rubio. Ultimately it sounded as though he'd keep Luke in the starting lineup for the time being.
I can't tell you how excited I am to have Nikola Pekovic back in the starting lineup, moving Greg Stiemsma to the bench and HOPEFULLY behind Chris Johnson on the depth chart.
With Shved & Pek back, it bolsters a pretty impressive second unit: J.J. Barea, Alexey Shved, Mickael Gelabale, Dante Cunningham and Chris Johnson.
If the Wolves want a win in this one their going to have to contain to of the Clippers' key players in this one: Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford. I have a feeling that we'll see a lot of Dante Cunningham tonight, using Dante's defense to try and limit his effectiveness on O.
For the first time since Pek & Shved went down with injuries, I'm optimistic about the Minnesota Timberwolves. Tipoff is set for 7pmCT, enjoy the game, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
I'm not going to give you our usual full gameday recap today. I don't think I have the energy following yet another pathetic TWolves performance.
The Minnesota Timberwolves were up by double-digits for the majority of the first two-and-a-half quarters. We've all learned WAY to many times this season, that the TWolves are one of the worst teams in the NBA at maintaining a big lead. Tonight was yet another prime example as the Bobcats came roaring back in the second half.
The Minnesota Timberwolves got off to a great start, they scored 34 in the first quarter and led by 12 points. Greg Stiemsma scored 10 of his 11 points in the first quarter (to go along with 6 of his 7 rebounds) while Luke Ridnour added 11 of his 22. Stiemsma found himself open three separate times for an easy dunk. He played great, but the entire time, I was wishing Pekovic was on the court (he probably could've gone for 40 tonight).
The Cats kept it a little closer in the second quarter as they outscored the Wolves 25-24. Dante scored 8 of his 10 in the second quarter, while Rubio & Barea added 5 apiece. In the preview we talked about Kemba, Gordon & Sessions being the key to a Cats W tonight and they certainly got things going in the second quarter. Gordon had 8 of his 18, Kemba went for 7 of his 25 and Sessions added 6 of his 23.
At halftime the Wolves led 58-47. The Wolves shot 51.2% from the field and 60% (6-of-10) from deep in that first half, while also out-rebounded the Bobcats 18-14. By halftime Ridnour had 11pts, 4reb, 6ast, 1blk and Ricky added 7pts, 1reb, 5ast, 2stls.
Things started downhill in the third quarter as the Bobcats opened up the quarter with a run that saw them instantly erase that slim Wolves lead. Walker (7 of his 25) and Henderson (8 of his 15) led Charlotte in the third, outscoring Minnesota 19-26. Charlotte found themselves down just four points after three, 77-73.
Just one quarter to go and unfortunately it would end just as the last matchup did between these two teams. In the last matchup the game was tied at 87, when Kemba Walker hit a step-back jumper over Alexey Shved to seal a two-point Bobcat victory. Tonight, the Wolves took a two-point 101-99 lead after Ricky Rubio hit a reverse layup out of a timeout. With roughly 35 seconds to play it was Bobcat ball, the Wolves would just need one stop and they could seal the W at the free throw line. In that final Bobcat possession the Wolves force Charlotte to lose the ball three different times. The ball was tipped into the backcourt by Rubio and it looked as though a dive by AK could've got the Wolves the ball, but MKG snagged it and quickly tossed it to Gerald Henderson. Henderson took a pump fake that AK bit hard on and threw up a three-pointer as the shot clock expired to give the Cats a one-point lead 101-102 with just 4.6 seconds to play. The Wolves took a timeout. Out of the timeout they got J.J. the ball, he drove the lane and was blocked by Kemba Walker as he flopped to the floor, time expired and the Wolves have now lost four straight games.
Ricky Rubio had his best all-around game of the season (hopefully a sign of things to come) as he finished with 14pts, 1reb, 8ast and 5stls, including 4-of-9 from the field and went 1-of-2 from deep (which was his first made three of the season, after going 0-for-11). Ridnour led the Wolves with 22pts on 9-for-14 shooting, including 3-for-5 from deep while also adding 7reb, 7ast, 1stl and 1blk. Despite that last second play, J.J. did have a solid game (statistically), he finished with 19pts, 5reb, 4ast and he went 7-of-18 from the field, including 4-of-7 from three.
The Bobcats were led by their trio of guards (just as I knew they would be). Walker finished with 25pts, 8reb, 8ast, 3stls, 2blks; Sessions added 23pts, 3reb, 4ast off the bench and Ben Gordon also came off the bench to dump in 18pts and add 2reb, 2ast, 1stl & 2blks.
MISC. TEAM STATS: Minnesota's 21 fast break points are tied for a season-high.....The Wolves' 30 total rebounds ties a season-low.......The Bobcats shot just 11 threes, which is a season-low in attempts for a TWolves opponent.......
MISC. PLAYER STATS: J.J. Barea tied season-highs with his 7 made field goals, 4 made threes and 7 attempted threes, he also set a new season-high with his 18 field goal attempts......Luke Ridnour set a new season-high with 22 points, while also tying season-highs in field goals made (9), three-pointers made (3), blocks (1) and minutes played (41).......Ricky Rubio had his best game of the season, scoring a season-high 14 points and making a season-high 4 field goals. He also tied a season-high with 9 field goal attempts and was just one shy of his career high (6, reached twice) in steals with a season-high 5.......Greg Stiemsma tied season-highs in free throws made (3) & attempted (4) as well as offensive (2) and total rebounds (7).......
The Wolves are now 7 games behind .500 and have truly reached rock bottom. The Wolves faced the two worst teams in the NBA (record-wise) these past two nights and given each their 11th win of the season. The Bobcats had lost 16-straight games at home coming into the game....that obviously ended tonight. Things don't get any easier as their next two opponents are the two L.A. teams: the Clippers and the Lakers. Here's hoping Nikola Pekovic and Alexey Shved will be back.
Minnesota won't play again until Wednesday (vs. LAC), stay tuned these next few days for updates on Pek & Shved. The Wolves also have a decision to make when Gelabale & Johnson's 10-Day contracts expire on Tuesday (it's sounding as though they want to keep them both and will likely either trade or waive Lou Amundson to do so). Until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
The Minnesota Timberwolves are coming off a loss to what was the worst team in the NBA. With the win, the Charlotte Bobcats are now the NBA's worst team and that's who they'll face on Saturday evening in Charlotte.
The Timberwolves have lost 10 of their last 11 games on the road, including six in a row. The Wolves are also losers of 8 of their last 9 games overall.
The Charlotte Bobcats have a lengthy losing streak of their own. Charlotte has lost 16 consecutive games at home. Their last win at the Time Warner Cable Arena came on November 21st. With that win the Bobcats moved to 5-2 on the year....they're now 10-32. If the Bobcats were to lose another three straight games at home, they'll tie the NBA record, currently held by the 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks.
The Wolves come into this one six games under .500 at 17-23. Minnesota is currently 10th in the West and only three-and-a-half games out of that final seed. However, as the losses continue to accumulate the playoffs are looking more and more like a fantasy. The Wolves are also 6-16 on the road, 2-8 in their last ten games and losers of three straight.
The Bobcats are currently 10-32 on the year and hold the NBA's worst record. They're 5-18 at home, 2-8 in their last 10 and losers of three straight. The Bobcats are most certainly headed for another high lottery pick come summer.
I'll be completely honest, if the Wolves lose tonight's game, I may have to take a few weeks off from watching the Wolves. If we can't beat the Bobcats, we won't beat anyone for a very long time.
The Wolves continue to play without Nikola Pekovic (thigh) and Alexey Shved (ankle). Those two should be back next week sometime, of course they're two of the six players the Wolves are without the others being Kevin Love (hand), Brandon Roy (knees), Chase Budinger (knee) and Malcolm Lee (knee/hip).
The Bobcats are currently without their starting power forward: Byron Mullens who is dealing with an ankle injury and is listed as 'out indefinitely'.
Let's take a look at the starting lineups...
For once, the Wolves are facing a team that doesn't have a BIG advantage offensively in the paint. Without Nikola Pekovic, the Wolves have been dominated by some opposing centers: Brook Lopez, Al Horford & Nene to name a few. Crazy to say, but with Derrick, Dante & Chris; the Wolves may actually hold an advantage over the Bobcats...that is until Haywood is brought in the game.
The Wolves' biggest concerns will be four guys: Kemba Walker, Ramon Sessions, Ben Gordon and Gerald Henderson. The Wolves allowed Jordan Crawford, John Wall & Bradley Beal to dominate last night, getting and hitting nearly every shot they threw up. These four Bobcat players are just as capable, especially Walker & Gordon who are two extremely talented shooters.
The name of the game has to be defense. The Wolves have been allowing 100.8ppg & 50.3% FG in their last nine games, while also allowing six of those opponents to score 104 points or more. If Minnesota wants to get back on track, a matchup with the Bobcats could be what it takes, but the Wolves HAVE to play D, allowing opponents to make half their shots and score 100+ every night will see this losing streak continue.
Tipoff is set for 6:30pmCT, enjoy the game and GO WOLVES!
The Minnesota Timberwolves' woes continue as they just lost to the NBA's worst team (record-wise). Not only did they lose, but they were absolutely blown out in a game where the Wizards led by 20+ in the second half, en route to a 13-point win.
The Wolves found themselves down four points after the first quarter. Derrick Williams found his shot falling early as he ended the first quarter with 8pts & 5reb. The Wizards began the game looking to exploit their advantage in the paint (outscoring MIN in the paint 14-4) as Nene scored 6 of his points in the first and Okafor added 4pts, 4reb, 2ast, 2stls. The entire Wizards team got off to a hot start as they scorched the Wolves for 61.9% FG (13-21).
The second quarter saw the Wizards continue their hot shooting as they ended the first half shooting 59.5% and scoring 31 in the second quarter to take a 14-point 60-46 lead at the half. The Wolves were shooting just 40.9% at the half as well as 0-for-7 from deep. The "10-Day Duo" combined for 12 of the Wolves' 21 second quarter points, each (Mickael & Chris) scoring 6 apiece.
Things didn't get much better in the third quarter. The Wizards scored another 31 points in the third and actually took a 20+ lead during that quarter. The Wolves found themselves down 18 after three quarters. By that time the Wizards had 5 of their 6 players in double-figures and were well on their way to their 10th win of the season.
It was clear that the Wolves likely didn't have a fourth quarter rally in them. They did outscore Washington 28-23 in that final quarter, but were playing against the Wizards second (maybe even third) unit. Gelabale scored 8 of his 15 in that final quarter, while Crawford added 9 of his 19.
The Wolves are now 17-23 on the season, six games under .500 with the season slipping away VERY quickly. If we lose to the Bobcats tomorrow, I might just die.
The Wolves got some good production from their forwards. Williams led the team with 18 as well as his third double-double of the season, but didn't score very efficiently. Kirilenko played only 29 minutes (why?), but still contributed to the scoreboard. I was hoping to see a bit more from him defensively tonight....I would've liked to see more from everyone defensively tonight. Gelabale was the most impressive of the bunch, scoring 6 of his 15 in the second quarter and another 8 in the fourth. He shot 70% from the field and scored from a variety of angles--mid-range jumpers in the paint as well as some easy layup/dunks.
The Wizards had six players in double figures as no seemed to be able to miss a shot. That has too often been the case these past few weeks. Wouldn't it be nice to have a true shooting guard like Jordan Crawford or Bradley Beal on the roster? Someone who can knock down open shots consistently. The past few opponents have taken advantage in the post, but tonight it was the Wizards backcourt taking it to the likes of Ricky, Luke & J.J.
MISC. STATS: Dante tied a season-high with 4 free throw attempts.....Luke Ridnour set a new season-high with his three offensive rebounds (all of which came in the 1st Half).....Ricky Rubio tied season-highs in offensive rebounds (3) and total rebounds (5) while also playing a season-high 31 minutes......Greg Stiemsma tied a season-high with 2 steals and set a new season/career-high with 6 assists (the previous career-high being 3).....Derrick Williams set a new season-high with 17 field goal attempts, his 8 free throw attempts are a season-high that also ties a career-high, his 11 rebounds tie both a season & career-high.....Gelabale set a lot of new season-highs, I'm not going to list them here, check them out under the 'Stats' page.....Chris Johnson tied a season-high with 3 offensive rebounds and set a new season-high with his 1 steal.....
KEY STATS: The Wolves didn't shoot a terrible percentage from the field and were still able to score 101 on the night. The Wolves were without their two best rebounders and still held a +13 on the boards against a team that starts two very capable centers. The Wolves also left thirteen points at the line.......they lost by thirteen points. 61% from the line will never 'cut it'. The Wolves did do a good job of limiting fast break opportunities, however that's the only positive on D tonight. Because altogether they were dreadful, allowed a team to shoot nearly 60% for the game as no one seemed to interested in making stops. Yes, the Wizards had some shooters that were very 'hot' in this one.....but there were a lot of wide open looks.
MISC. STATS: The Wolves are without their two best rebounders and yet they still set a new season-high with their 22 offensive rebounds.....Minnesota's 3 three-pointers made and 2 blocks both tie the second-lowest marks of the season......The Wizards set a new season-high for a Wolves opponent with their 48 made field goals and 114 points, they also set the second-best field goal percentage mark of the season at 57.8%......The Wizards' 6 offensive rebounds are tie the second-worst mark of the year for a Minnesota opponent......
That's all for now, the Wolves are back in action tomorrow night vs. the Bobcats in Charlotte, we'll have a full gameday preview of that one up later tonight, until then thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
The Minnesota Timberwolves head out on the road for the next two games on the East Coast. The Wolves will play Friday and Saturday vs. the Washington Wizards and the Charlotte Bobcats. Record-wise these are the two worst teams in the NBA.
The Minnesota Timberwolves had a great start to the season, but have been decimated by injuries and are definitely slumping as of late. The Washington Wizards are a team that had an absolutely awful start to the season, but have improved lately thanks in large part to the return of John Wall.
The Wolves are 1-7 in their last eight games. For the last three games they've played without two of their big contributors: Nikola Pekovic and Alexey Shved. They did grab a win over the Houston Rockets last weekend, but since dropped games vs. the Hawks and the Nets--two teams that exploited a glaring mismatch in the paint. Greg Stiemsma is no Nikola Pekovic and he was manhandled by Al Horford and Brook Lopez these past two games. With two very talented big men in the Washington starting lineup: Nene & Emeka Okafor, that's going to be a big concern in this matchup.
The Wizards are 5-3 in their last eight games. John Wall returned following knee surgery just seven games ago and has definitely provided a big boost to a Washington squad that seemed to be headed to a Top 4 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. The Wizards have played 40 games this season and have 42 to go. If the Wiz can play .500 basketball for the remainder of the season, they could finish 30-52. That's still out of the playoffs, but it's clear that a team that features John Wall, Nene, Emeka Okafor and two young and talented shooting guards: Jordan Crawford & Bradley Beal; is a much better team than their 9-31 record says.
The Wolves enter this game 17-22, two-and-a-half games out of the 8th seed in the West and 6-15 on the road. The Wizards are 9-31, 6-13 at home, but 5-5 in their last ten games, yet they are currently the worst team in the NBA (record-wise).
The Wolves are will be without Kevin Love (hand), Brandon Roy (knees), Chase Budinger (knee) and Malcolm Lee (knee/hip). As I said before, Nikola Pekovic (thigh) and Alexey Shved (ankle) are both out, as well. Pek & Alexey didn't make the trip and thus won't play on Saturday vs. the Bobcats, either.
The Wizards are without Cartier Martin (knee) as he'll likely be out for another week or more. Bradley Beal has been dealing with a wrist injury since a hard fall vs. the Nuggets. It's likely he'll continue to play through it though.
Let's take a look at the probable starting lineups for this one...
John Wall has played only seven games this season and has come off the bench in all those games. I assume he'll continue to come off the bench in this one, averaging 25.1 minutes a game.
As you can see former Wolf Martell is playing for Washington now. He took over the starting small forward role for Trevor Ariza this season and is having a decent season, with most of his averages up across the board.
The biggest concern in this one will be matching up vs. John Wall when he comes into the game and containing Derrick Williams & Emeka Okafor down low. The Wolves need to chase the Wizards' three-point shooters off the line and also limit turnovers. Wall is one of (if not the) fastest player(s) in the NBA. They'll get out and run off Minnesota's miscues to get easy transition baskets.
Tipoff is set for 6pmCT, enjoy the game thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
The Minnesota Timberwolves continue their downward spiral as they dropped yet another one, Wednesday night at the Target Center vs. the Brooklyn Nets.
The Wolves had their chances down the stretch, but every time the Wolves would get within a bucket or two the Nets would answer quickly with a mini run that would push the lead back to a multiple possession game.
The first quarter ended with Minnesota trailing 24-17. The game began with a 14-2 run from the Nets, but the Wolves eventually found their shot thanks to a Rubio layup and a couple of Dante's 15-footers. The Nets got off to a hot start, hitting 57.9% of their shots in that first quarter, while also holding a +5 advantage on the boards (11-6) and a 14-6 advantage in points in the paint, thanks to some early dominance from Brook Lopez. Brook ended the first quarter with 10 of his 22 points and Joe Johnson added 8 of his 18. The Wolves were led by 6 points from Dante in that first quarter.
The Wolves continued to battle in the second quarter and they actually got to within a single possession three times during the quarter, they failed to take the lead as the Nets always put together a run to regain the momentum. Chris Johnson got rolling in the second quarter as he dumped in 10 of his 12 points on the night. Deron Williams scored 9 of his 18 in the second and no one seemed to be able to lock down Andray Blatche as he went off for all 9 of his points in the second quarter. The Wolves brought their shooting percentage up from 38.9% in the first quarter to 48.7% by halftime. The Nets continued their dominance on the glass, holding a 26-14 advantage at the half.
The Wolves inched closer as they uncharacteristically had a better offensive third quarter than their counterparts. Minnesota outscored Brooklyn 20-15 in the third quarter. Derrick Williams scored all 9 of his points in the third and Ridnour added 8 of his 13 to cut the lead to just 6 points (62-68) after three. By that time the Wolves had shot all the free throws they would in the game: 6. Despite playing without their best low-post scorer the Wolves continued to knock down shots in the painted area, going toe-to-toe with the Brooklyn bigs, both teams finishing with 36 points in the paint after three.
The Wolves pulled within single possessions multiple times in the fourth quarter, but failed to take the lead, resulting in a 8-point MIN loss. J.J. scored 7 of his 11 in the fourth and Dante added 8 of his 14, but it just wasn't enough. On Monday, it was Jannero Pargo that went off for that 14-point fourth quarter that boosted the Hawks to a win, tonight it was C.J. Watson. C.J. scored 9 of his 14 in the fourth and helped shut the door on a Wolves team that had already upset them once this season.
I hate to point to the refs in any game, but the fact that their were only 22 free throws shot between these two teams tonight and I saw multiple plays on both ends that were clear fouls. We saw awful calls on who touched the ball last as it sailed out of bounds as well as jump ball calls & no-calls. J.J. Barea actually picked up all five of his personal fouls in the fourth quarter during a span of 2 minutes and 44 seconds! Like I said, I grow tired of constantly criticizing refs, but tonight's game was just another prime example of the NBA protecting their big markets--not allowing D-Will, JJ & Lopez to lose to the lowly, short-handed Wolves.
It was a very balanced scoring effort tonight as the team had five players finish in double figures along with a sixth, Williams who finished with 9. Andrei Kirilenko continues to produce solid all-around games, but the bigger story tonight was the play of two of the Wolves' reserve big men. Dante & Chris. Dante is finally finding that mid-range shot once again as he knocked down 7 of his 12 attempts, many of them those 14-17 foot jumpshots. Johnson exploded with a big second quarter. He had a number of big athletic dunks, but also showed a bit of range on a putback in the second quarter and a turnaround jumper in the fourth. He also hit the boards and protected the rim, while limiting those silly fouls that got him in trouble vs. the Hawks on Monday. Johnson also showed off some impressive passing skills as he found AK & J.J. with some nifty bounce passes for easy buckets (both of which should've been and-ones!).
The Nets had a clear advantage at center and in the backcourt and as you can see by the players listed above, they did a very good job exploiting those mismatches tonight. Lopez played just 26 minutes but finished with 22 points on some efficient shooting. Matched up against Rubio, Ridnour, Barea & Gelabale, it didn't seem to matter Williams & Johnson had no trouble draining mid-range shots over the top of the defenders, slicing to the rim for an easy 2 or stepping out for a long-range bomb. They certainly had a gameplan to attack those areas and executed that quite well.
MISC. STATS: Dante Cunningham tied a season-high with 14 points (4th time this season), 7 made field goals (2nd time this season) and his 1 three point attempt (2nd time this season).....Luke Ridnour tied a season-high with 1 block (7th time this season).....Ricky Rubio tied a season-high with his two made field goals (5x).....Mickael Gelabale's 2 three-pointers attempted and 1 assist both tie season-highs, while his 25 minutes are a new season-high.....Chris Johnson had another career night: a new season-high/career-high with his 6 made field goals and 10 field goal attempts, his 5 defensive rebounds is a new season-high and ties a career-high, he tied a season-high with his 6 rebounds, he finished with two assists which is a new season-high and career-high, his 3 blocks are a new season-best and tie a career-high (for the 3rd time in his career), he also played a season-high 24 minutes.....
KEY STATS: Both teams shot similar percentages in all areas, but the Wolves going to the free throw line just six times is a big key for this Brooklyn win. Neither team went to the line much in this one, but Brooklyn's +7 made free throws nearly makes up the difference in this game. Without Pek, the Wolves continue to struggle on the boards, however these last few games they've upped their fast break numbers and tonight, despite playing just four players off the bench: Gelabale, Johnson, Barea & Cunningham they all had good games and combined for 39 points off the pine. The big problem for the Wolves in this one was the free throw disparity. The Wolves are a team that usually gets to the line A LOT more and it's a different ball game if that was the case tonight.
MISC. STATS: The Wolves set new season-lows with their 4 made free throws and 6 free throw attempts, they also tied the second-worst marks of the season with their 3 made threes and 6 offensive rebounds.....Brooklyn's 16 fouls ties a season-low for a Wolves opponent.....
The Wolves are back in action Friday in Washington vs. the Wizards. That one will tip at 6pmCT and we'll have a full gameday preview late tomorrow night. Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
The last time these two teams met, the Minnesota Timberwolves found themselves down by 23 points early in the third quarter and the Wolves seemed to be on their way to a humiliating loss. Then the Wolves sparked a won that saw that lead diminish and inevitably resulted in an 11-point Minnesota win.
The Wolves were playing without Kevin Love & Ricky Rubio then and still found a win over one of the Eastern Conference's better teams. Now, the Wolves have Ricky back and in addition to Love (hand) have lost Chase Budinger (knee), Brandon Roy (knees) and Malcolm Lee (knee/hip). Nikola Pekovic (thigh) and Alexey Shved (ankle) have missed the last two games. Both will miss tonight's game, but it sounds like they could return this weekend.
The Nets don't have any significant injuries, but they recently sent a duo to the D-League: rookie point guard Tyshawn Taylor and rookie forward Tornike Shengalia. Both were recently sent down for a D-League assignment. Brooklyn also had Damion James signed to a 10-day contract that recently expired, they declined to give him another and he returned to the D-League.
The Nets have one of the NBA's 'better rosters', unfortunately the majority of their 'stars' are underachieving. Beyond Brook Lopez, who has been playing quite well, Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries have all struggled to perform at a high level with any kind of consistency leading the Nets to a 25-16 record on the year and the dismissal of Avery Johnson as their head coach just one month after he was named the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month.
The Nets are currently a .500 team on the road (9-9), while Minnesota has gone 11-6 at the Target Center this year. Unfortunately the Wolves are meeting the Nets during a hot streak as they've won 11 of their last 13 games, including 9-1 in their last ten. The Wolves are on the 'other end of the spectrum' as losers of six of their last seven games as well as 5-12 in their last seventeen.
Historically the Nets have struggled at the Target Center, going 4-17 all-time in Minnesota. The Nets have lost two in a row to the Wolves including 6 of 7 overall.
The Nets' last game came against their rivals: the New York Knicks. Joe Johnson nailed a go-ahead jumper with 22 seconds to play to seal a Nets win. JJ finished the night w/25pts, 3reb, 5ast, 1stl; Williams added 14pts, 5reb, 12ast and Brook Lopez contributed 14pts, 11reb, 1ast & 4blks.
Let's take a look at tonight's likely starters...
Luke Ridnour was completely overmatched in Monday's game vs. the Hawks, matched up against Kyle Korver as Luke was consistently pinned on picks that found KK wide open for a deep three. His matchup with Joe Johnson is QUITE concerning, especially considering how much of Joe's game revolves around breaking down his man on the isolation. The only chance Luke will have is denying JJ the ball as much as possible. Hopefully, if Luke struggles early on D, Porter won't hesitate to play Gelabale big minutes in this one.
My other main concern is rebounding. The Wolves are without their two best rebounders (Love & Pek) and they've struggled these past two games w/o Nikola. Kirilenko, Williams, Cunningham and Stiemsma all need to make a MUCH more concerted effort on the boards.
I wouldn't count out a big night from an unlikely player tonight. It may sound silly, but I'm thinking a guy like Gelabale having a great offensive night or Rubio finally finding his shot and his confidence.
That's all for now, tipoff is set for 7pmCT, enjoy the game and GO WOLVES!
The Minnesota Timberwolves absolutely dominated the first two quarters of action. They built a solid 18-point lead and were up 14 at halftime.
Unfortunately we had YET ANOTHER second half letdown as the Wolves were outscored 38-60 in the final two quarters for an 8-point loss and their 10th straight loss IN Atlanta.
Minnesota got off to a strong start thanks to an unlikely trio of players. Williams had 9pts, 2reb, 1blk; Stiemsma added 8pts, 3reb, 1ast, 1blk and Luke Ridnour contributed 7pts, 1reb, 2ast, 1stl.
Both teams were 'shorthanded' in this one. However, it's unfair to compare the two teams when it comes to injuries. They're without Lou Williams, Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow and DeShawn Stevenson, but still have their two best players are still on the court: Smith & Horford. Whereas the Wolves are without their two best players: Love & Pekovic, while also missing Roy, Lee, Budinger and Shved.
The Wolves took advantage of a number of early turnovers by Atlanta and also got Ivan Johnson (3) and Josh Smith (2) into early foul trouble. Minnesota hit a high percentage of their shots, while also limiting the effectiveness of the Atlanta bigs (a HUGE advantage for ATL in this one).
In the second quarter the Wolves got steady contributions from a number of players, headlined by Mickael Gelable who scored all 7 of his points in that second quarter. The Hawks played this one closer as they looked to take advantage of their muscle in the post, he scored 10 of his 28 in that second quarter...and unfortunately he wasn't done there.
Minnesota took a 14-point lead into halftime and did so with efficient shooting from the field and capitalizing on a lot of Atlanta turnovers. The Wolves shot 55% from the field and forced the Hawks into 12 turnovers that they turned into 15 points.
If you recall the lone matchup between these two teams last season, it was an eerily similar situation. The Wolves were playing in Atlanta and built an early lead, just to blow it in the final quarter. That game was a bit closer, with the Wolves losing it in the final five seconds on a pair of Ivan Johnson free throws, followed by a missed Love three that would've sealed a W.
The Hawks came out of halftime and promptly scored 8 straight points, cutting the lead to 6 and forcing Porter to burn a timeout. It didn't help much as the Hawks continue to pour it in as they finished the third quarter outscoring Minnesota 26-19. Horford continued his dominance in the paint with 7 more points and Kyle Korver got things going in that third quarter where he drained a number of threes and scored 11 of his 14 points.
With a 7-point lead heading into the final quarter, it looked as though the Wolves may be able to sneak out of ATL with the win. Unfortunately Jannero Pargo, Al Horford and Ivan Johnson had other plans. The Hawks signed Pargo to a 10-day contract earlier today and apparently some of Minnesota's Saturday night magic rubbed off on him, giving the Hawks a "10-day Hero" of their own. Pargo scored 14 of his 16 points in that final quarter, that included 4 made threes as he helped the Hawks run away with this one. They also didn't stop going to Horford as he added another 7 points off that advantage in the post and Ivan Johnson got in on the fun with 6 of his 8 in the fourth.
There were a number of problems tonight. However, none more glaring than Terry Porter's rotations and the plays the Wolves are running. Minnesota's offense is based a lot on the pick-and-roll and it always seems to work VERY well, but tonight it seemed as though every play was J.J. Barea or Luke Ridnour waiting for a high screen, by the time they'd get the pick set the clock would be down under 5 seconds and they'd have to fling up yet another bad shot and still they kept going back to it, despite it working about 1 in every 3 tries. I suppose with Pekovic out, the Wolves really don't have too many other sets to run as Nikola is clearly a HUGE part of the offense.
As far as Porter's rotations...I struggle to understand them. For the first five minutes of the third quarter Kyle Korver consistently burnt Luke Ridnour and found himself with wide open threes. Instead of maybe bringing in Gelabale to 'stop the bleeding' Porter let them play on. Then, in the final quarter no one could stop Jannero Pargo and yet Porter kept Luke out there guarding him, he finally brought Ricky back into the game with just a few minutes to play, but by then it should've been Barea he brought back because Ricky can't hit a shot. I know I'm not the only one that hopes Rick is back on the sidelines VERY soon!
The Wolves have now lost six of their last seven games. They'll face the Nets who they beat earlier this season (as they came back from 23 down) which will be a tough game. Then they'll face two of the East's worst teams in Charlotte & Washington, before ending the month with another matchup vs. the Clippers. If they can win 3 of 4, they'll carry some momentum into February.
Let's take a look at today's top performers...
Williams got off to a hot start in that first quarter, but was very ineffective in the final two quarters, tallying 2 points apiece in the third and fourth quarters. He had a good night on O, however scoring 17 on 14 tries and shooting 50% from the field in a season-high (tying) 37 minutes.
J.J. had a number of good plays and to be honest I was surprised when I looked at the box score and saw he finished with 7 assists, because watching the game, he looked kind of selfish with the ball out there. Nonetheless he was effective and had a number of very difficult layups he converted.
Dante was sick on Saturday and was still looking a little 'lousy' prior to tonight's tip (according to reporters) and yet he had another great all-around game. He found that mid-range shot again as he hit 60% of his tries, while also making things happen on the defensive end, finishing with 2stls and 2blks, but only 1 foul.
Horford must've been thrilled to hear Pekovic wouldn't be playing tonight after Pek dominated the Hawks in the paint in their last meeting. Tonight, with Greg Stiemsma guarding him Al went to work and contributed big numbers in every quarter, including 14 in the second half to carry his team on a night when Josh Smith finished with just 10pts.
Smith doesn't need to score much, when reserves Korver & Pargo ignite in the second half like they did. Between the two of them, they made 7 of Atlanta's 10 made threes and took 11 of the 16 total attempts. Former Wolf Tolliver also nailed 2 of his own (2-for-2).
MISC. STATS: Amundson tied a season-high with his 1 assist.....Barea tied season-highs with 2 offensive rebounds (5th time this season) and 2 steals (3rd time this season).....Ridnour's 2 offensive rebounds also ties a season-high (for the 3rd time this season).....Stiemsma played a season-high 28 minutes (one minute away from tying his career-high) and also tied a season-high (for the 3rd time) with his 7 field goal attempts.....Derrick Williams tied a season-high with his 37 minutes played.....
KEY STATS: Both teams shot high percentages in this one, but when the opposition hits 58% from the field and 63% from deep and you struggle in the final quarter to hit shots. Surprisingly neither team had too many rebounds with just 62 between the two teams. The Wolves had just 7 turnovers for 6 Atlanta points, which of course means Minnesota turned the ball over 13 times for 20 Atlanta points in the second half. A big key in that second half collapse.
MISC. STATS: The Wolves set new season-lows in defensive rebounds (20) and total rebounds (30).....The Hawks' 22 turnovers are a new season-high for a MIN opponent. Their 57.7% FG, 62.5% 3PT and 32 assists are all the 'second-highest' totals for a Wolves opponent this season.....The Hawks' 71 field goal attempts are a new season-low for a TWolves opponent.....
That's all for now, the Wolves are back in action on Wednesday night vs. the Brooklyn Nets back at the Target Center. Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!