Timberwolves 82, Bulls 75: We Play at Paste

Steve McPherson —  October 13, 2012 — 8 Comments

Emily-Dickinson_BBALLHoly cow there were a lot of fouls in this game. 69 of them, and I don’t even mean that in some kind of eyebrow-raised, sexy way. I’m not a mathematician, but I’m pretty sure that means a foul every 45 seconds or so, which is just unreal. Couple that with terrible free throw shooting by both teams (63% for the Bulls and 67% for the Wolves) and you’ve got the recipe for the above score.

I actually have something to say about the preseason in general, and why it’s shortchanging it to say it’s “meaningless,” but let’s get to some of the more fun parts of tonight’s tilt.

  • The matchup between J.J. Barea and Nate Robinson had to be the most adorable in the NBA since Muggy Bogues guarded Spudd Webb in a preseason game in October of 1988 (I made that up—please do not look it up). But seriously, any notion that Barea is 6’0″ tall and thus three inches taller than Robinson was resoundingly debunked by seeing them more or less eye to eye. I kept waiting for the guy in charge of in-arena music to start bumping the theme to “Muppet Babies” every time they squared up against each other.
  • All night, the Bulls played Joakim Noah on Dante Cunningham and Carlos Boozer on Nikola Pekovic, which was a weird crossmatch—as Britt Robson observed—and even more strangely, the Wolves didn’t try to take advantage of it by dumping it down to Pek. Pek, by the way, looks every inch as ripped in person as was reported. Under his biceps are just more biceps. And possibly other people’s biceps.
  • Shved really hit his stride in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 points in a variety of ways, including a couple threes and a nice lefty scoop on a drive to the basket. I kept watching him on defense to see how bad he might be on that end, but he acquitted himself reasonably well, I thought. Not spectacular, but it seems like if he can just not be a negative of defense he’ll be fine. More on him in a moment.
  • Luke Ridnour and Kirk Hinrich are basically Street Fighter II palette swaps of each other, like Ryu and Ken. I think maybe this makes Steve Nash Akuma.
  • Roy looked good again, although it wasn’t exactly encouraging to see him wincing every time he got up from diving for a loose ball, which, while we’re at it: WHY ARE YOU DIVING FOR LOOSE BALLS IN THE PRESEASON WHEN YOU HAVE NO KNEES? He ended up with 13 points and led the team with 4 assists. Your points and rebounds leader was Pekovic, who scored 16 and pulled down 17 boards. SEVENTEEN. Thanks to Joan Niesen, I learned that that is the most by a Timberwolves player in the preseason since Al Jefferson had 17 in 2007. Which means nothing.

Which brings us neatly to the whole meaning nothing thing. Just because something doesn’t show up in the final product doesn’t mean it’s without weight or meaning. I teach writing, and I hammer home the benefits of the rough draft. Until you get your ideas out, until you get your voice on the page, it’s almost impossible to know what you have. Trying to shape what you’re saying as it’s coming out is a sure path to writer’s block, or at the very least tripping yourself up. You can write sentences, paragraphs, entire pages and chapters that never make it into the final work, but they’re still there. The work you did to make them is still there.

Preseason isn’t all that different. The coaches, the players—they need to see what’s possible with what they have. So maybe the overall texture of a preseason game is uneven, rough, nothing you’d want to save. But there will be little elements you begin to understand better. Maybe Shved’s little explosion in the fourth shows Adelman he can be trusted, shows his teammates that he might be able to step up when it’s needed. Roy and Cunningham executing clean pick and rolls is something you can cut free of this game and carry forward into the next draft. And just as it is with writing, you might carry something forward and discover it doesn’t work at all in the final draft. And that’s fine—that’s part of the process, too.

The title of this post comes from a poem by Emily Dickinson. The pieces of this largely new team aren’t going to come together without many levels of work, from drills to practices to preseason games to the real thing. This team is going to learn gem-tactics by practicing sands.

Steve McPherson

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8 responses to Timberwolves 82, Bulls 75: We Play at Paste

  1. Very enjoyable write-up. You guys better be careful – you’re ripe for stealing a bunch of the CH regulars, what with all this great stuff.

    I’m looking forward to seeing Adelman continue to create and edit with these guys.

  2. Nicely done, sir. I was also cringing every time Roy hit the floor, but as Joan Niesen noted in her post-game write-up, that’s how he plays and he probably can’t change. Hopefully we can just appreciate it for as long as he can stay out there.

    As for Pek, I’m not sure what I’m going to enjoy more: Watching him overpower opposing bigs or watching them get into foul trouble before the middle of the first quarter. I can’t say I’m enjoying him at the FT line too much right now, so I hope he can figure something out there.

  3. Pek will be fine. He is a great FT shooter for a 5-man. Stayed out of foul trouble just fine last season. It looks like Shved is gonna be a huge asset for this squad. He is a sniper/playmaker that makes up for Wes Johnson producing one of the worst NBA starter seasons of ALL TIME.

  4. Nice blog…. I like the preseason / rough draft analogy. I don’t know that many basketball reporters read poetry. Dont’t think Tim Legler does. Or Dick Vitale. A little culture can’t hurt us.

  5. I was at the game and left in the 4th quarter. The game was painfully slow and it was a Saturday night. I didn’t realize it was that bad though. SIXTY-NINE FOULS!? That is absurd. It also needs to be pointed out that Roy went 6-10 from the free throw line, but it seemed even worse. He went 1-2 almost every time, it was annoying.

    Clearly I’ve taken the role of the pessimist this time, so I will continue… Buddinger 2-11 and Amundson’s 2-8 were bad. Luckily they will never have games where they are allowed to take this many shots, but we need Buddinger to be going 2-4 not 2-11. I’m sure his stroke will come but only one shot looked good, the corner 3.

    Pek was unfair down low. He owned Boozer and Noah under the rim and should have been used more. He was clearly pissed at one point after missing a free throw, when he ran down the court and at the defensive free throw line jumped up and slammed both feet down. It was reminiscent of the animals in Rampage slamming down buildings.

    I decided to go to the game 45 minutes before tip-off because I saw a tweet saying Adelman was going to play Love and Roy more to see their chemistry together. Then I get to the game and after buy 2 beers and a chicken sandwich for $23 (true story) I sit down to see Love is not playing. Doh. Thankfully I have season tickets so I will have more chances to see him play…

  6. Oh, and by the way Steve, that 17 rebounds by Pek is NOT the most rebounds in a game by a wolf since 2007, it’s the most rebounds by a wolf in a PRESEASON GAME since 2007. How do you not remember Love’s 31-31 game?

  7. Wow how did I forget to mention Derrick Williams 0-8 performance after his big game the night before!?

  8. Steve McPherson October 15, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    I had meant to stipulate that the 17 rebounds was a preseason record. That’s why I said it means nothing. I should have been clearer, but thanks for pointing it out, Mickey.

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