infiltrate, verb: enter or gain access to (an organization, place, etc.) surreptitiously and gradually, especially in order to acquire secret information.
Wednesday night’s victory over the Atlanta Hawks brought the Timberwolves back to .500, at 35-35, with 12 games to go. I’ve recapped approximately a third of those games, and so far, I’ve resisted the urge to do any meta-writing, or writing about writing, and also I’ve refrained from submitting a game recap that’s about ancillary things (like the curiosities of venturing into an NBA locker room, or missing out on halftime refreshments because some local media members are no-account gluttons). Instead, I like to focus on the games, themselves, diving into their intricacies, (hopefully) illuminating something about it you might have missed, attempting to put the events into their proper context.
Tonight, I’m going to do something a little different. This late in the season, it’s time to try new things. It might go well, like a late-season audition that garners a pay bump, or it might go poorly, like Mark Madsen jacking up three-pointers. NBA seasons are incredibly long; strange things begin to happen as they wind down. People start doing things they aren’t supposed to do; they infiltrate areas of the arena or the court no one expected them to. Continue reading Timberwolves 107, Hawks 83: Infiltration
[Video courtesy of CJ Fogler]
That right there is a man at the end of his rope.
When that video of Kevin Love’s postgame comments after the Timberwolves’ 109-92 to the Memphis Grizzlies was posted last night, reactions were both swift and morose, with many jumping to the conclusion that this means Love is done in Minnesota, but let’s pump those brakes, OK? Continue reading Timberwolves 92, Grizzlies 109: The Long Bright Dark
We’ve been here before, hoping for competitive losses.
I should clarify. I’ve certainly been here before. I can’t assume you guys are necessarily there with me and based on the frustration flowing through my Twitter feed and some of the local media on Sunday, I might be mostly alone on this one for now. That’s probably the case because this is the latest in a season the Wolves have been competitive in about a decade. It’s also probably because the expectations heading into this season were competing for the playoffs. With roughly three weeks left, it would take two monumental collapses and the Wolves not collapsing to make that a reality.
Because of the draft pick implications heading into the game against the Phoenix Suns, my hopes for the game were for it to be extremely competitive and for the Wolves to protect their draft pick lives. Losing to the Suns was going to all but guarantee they keep the pick, assuming the Suns don’t come through on the 1.8% chance of landing a top 3 pick on the night of the lottery (that’s also assuming they don’t make the playoffs). The Suns making the playoffs altogether would actually be ideal because the Wolves would almost certainly keep the pick.
What I wanted out of Sunday’s game happened. Continue reading Suns 127, Timberwolves 120: The best of both worlds?
When Houston came out of the halftime break and put on the offensive clinic that sealed Minnesota’s fate, many words ran through my head, and surprisingly, all of them are fit to print. I root for the Timberwolves – of course – but sometimes basketball is so beautiful that even when bad things happen to my favorite team, I can’t help but appreciate it. In the first 3:29 of the second half, Harden & friends pushed their lead to 19 points with a 16-to-7 run, which sounds relatively unremarkable. It was the way it happened, though – the Rockets became a well-oiled machine, a freight train, a hurricane, a buzzsaw, something created in the nebulous netherworld of a gaming console to destroy everything in its path. Continue reading Timberwolves 106, Rockets 129: Joystick Killjoy
Since the 2014 playoffs are looking about as likely as David Kahn becoming NBA commissioner, it’s time to start hoping the Wolves keep their draft pick owed to the Phoenix Suns and scout for some draft talent. With the NCAA tournament starting up on Thursday and giving us weeks of enjoyment and bracket busting frustration, there will be lots of draft prospects to keep an eye on.
We’ll have a guide for the first two days of who to watch and then possibly keep up with those players who advance if they catch our fancy even more. The hope of the playoffs may be dwindling but that doesn’t mean hope for the future has to be lost** for us!
** — Assuming Phoenix doesn’t steal our pick we agreed to give them to take Wes Johnson. Continue reading Do you feel a Draft: Who to watch for on Thursday
I’m not going to be unrealistic here. That was a bit flukey.
Ricky Rubio became the new Ricky Buckets, if only for a night, and it was largely due to a pretty mediocre at best Dallas Mavericks’ defense. I don’t know why Jose Calderon was pressuring Rubio when he had the ball 30 feet from the basket. I don’t know why Calderon lets guys turn the corner on him with such little resistance. I don’t know why Samuel Dalembert wears cement shoes. I don’t know why Monta Ellis plays horrendous defense and then pretends it’s the refs’ fault. Whatever the answers to those issues are, Rubio did arguably the best job attacking a defense I’ve ever seen.
And while I’m going to be realistic about a game like this and note its flukey nature like I did above, it’s not going to stop be from enjoying the hell out of this performance. 22 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds, and four steals with 8/12 shooting from the field and 7/9 in the restricted area. Continue reading Timberwolves 123, Mavericks 122: Ricky Buckets 2.0
I’m fascinated with how we judge/view trades. As soon as a trade is completed, we judge the winners and losers of a trade. This is weird because we don’t wait to see how it works; we simply project our own values and expertise onto the transaction and start deciding how good or bad a deal is.
I don’t necessarily have a problem with this. I certainly do it as well and usually am the one volunteering on CBSSports.com to write the Grade the Trade posts. It’s really fun to figure out which teams are benefitting from a deal and which teams are Kahn’ing their fan base into thinking it’s a good idea. But it’s also important to keep constant perspective on what’s happening with both teams as previous trades are constantly evolving.
After Derrick Williams lit up the Wolves in a losing effort Sunday night, re-grading the trade seemed to be all anybody wanted to talk about, now that the season is all but done in terms of making the playoffs. If we’re going to do that, it’s important to look at all aspects of what is being discussed and where both teams are with their respective players. Continue reading Timberwolves 104, Kings 102: What's in a trade?
Over the past week and a half, the Wolves have had three opportunities to get to two games over .500 – a place they haven’t been since before Thanksgiving – and all three times, they’ve laid eggs. Minnesota lost to New York and Toronto at home, and last night, they fell to Charlotte on the road. The Bobcats are a plucky team, now 13-7 over their past 20 games, with a red-hot center (Al Jefferson), a good coach (Steve Clifford) and a roster full of hungry players, but detailing the opponent’s merits following disappointing losses is beginning to get tired.
Rick Adelman, employing both diplomacy and rationalization, is fond of speaking well of the opposition in his post-game pressers, which is somewhat expected, yet tiresome all the same. No salvos are fired inward, no matter how warranted they may be. Kevin Love had some sharp words for J.J. Barea and Dante Cunningham awhile back, but that was the closest thing we’ve had to a fiery, public confrontation. When it comes to addressing his own team, it’s impossible to know what happens behind closed doors, but Adelman’s content to offer simple platitudes, rather than strongly worded criticism, through the media. Last night was no exception:
“They’ve got to play. The season’s still there, playoffs or no playoffs. You’ve got to play. You’ve got to finish the year out and you’ve got to compete. Next game, we’ve got to come out and try to win.”
Fortunately, I am bound by no such diplomatic fanfare. There are plenty of reasons why the Timberwolves have lost as many as they’ve won, and last night had a little bit of everything. Continue reading Timberwolves 93, Bobcats 105: Fire and Nice
The Minnesota Timberwolves need to hit more shots.
Okay, that’s not totally the end. That would be an extremely short post of basketball analysis, but at this point in the season I am of the belief that this is the crux of the Wolves’ issue with the 2013-14 season. It’s hard to judge the disappointment of everything going on because the expectations and preseason guessing are what creates the disappointment. If we all went into this season with the expectation the Wolves would miss the playoffs and had no real chance at getting some postseason experience, would we be disappointed at all? Continue reading Shooting yourself in the foot and probably missing that too
“I have seen the dark universe yawning
Where the black planets roll without aim,
Where they roll in their horror unheeded,
Without knowledge, lustre or name.”
– H.P. Lovecraft
If the lowly Bucks, owners of the worst record in basketball (now 13-51), didn’t have the Timberwolves’ full attention prior to tip-off, they certainly did when their 12th consecutive shot found the bottom of the net to start the game. By the midway point of the first quarter, each of Milwaukee’s five starters had recorded a field goal and the team held a nine-point advantage. Guards Nate Wolters and Brandon Knight led the charge – between the two of them, they were responsible for the Bucks’ first seven buckets. Center Zaza Pachulia had 4 1st quarter assists, en route to 10 for the night (a career high).
Fortunes turned, volleys ceased, the tide abated – after all, the team with the league’s 4th-worst Offensive Rating and 6th-worst True Shooting percentage wasn’t going to shoot at a 71% clip (as the Bucks did in the opening quarter) all night long. But for awhile, things were very strange inside 600 1st Avenue, North, and even stranger things spurred the Wolves’ comeback victory. Continue reading Timberwolves 112, Bucks 101: I Have Seen the Dark Universe Yawning