Kings 106, Wolves 103: Things Which Are Alike

Minnesota Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins guards Sacramento Kings' Rudy Gay (8) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 23, 2016, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Hannah Foslien)

Credit: (AP Photo/Hannah Foslien)

Things which are alike, in nature, grow to look alike. – Nobody, “Dead Man”

The last time the Kings made the playoffs was 2006, which was a long time ago. The last time the Wolves made the playoffs was 2004, which was an even longer time ago. Since their last postseason game, the Kings have won just 34.4% of the time. Since their last postseason game, the Wolves have won 34.0% of the time, which is even worse than the Kings’ record. Both head coaches had less-than-pleasant exits from their first NBA jobs and hope to fare better on the second go-around. The Kings employ two players who used to be Timberwolves, Kosta Koufos and Anthony Tolliver. The Wolves have one former King, Cole Aldrich, and someone who is destined to be a King, Adreian Payne. Kings assistant Bryan Gates used to be #OneOfUs. Wolves assistant Ed Pinckney used to be #OneOfThem(And so was Wolves announcer Jim Petersen, way back when he still had hair.)

Each team has a one-and-done Kentucky Wildcat at center- last night, Boogie had a monster 29, 7 and 4, and KAT had a quiet (by his standards) 15, 6 and 4. Each team has an ideally sized, uber-athletic wing who just doesn’t seem to consistently affect the game the way you think he would; Sacramento’s version, Rudy Gay, had 28 points on 20 shots. Minnesota’s version, Andrew Wiggins, had 29 points on 19 shots. And down the stretch of the game, both teams made some poor plays, messed around, fell behind, came back, bumbled, stumled, wilted, lost their composure, and then the Kings won by 3 because hell, someone had to win. It’s in the rules.

We all know that Minnesota is in better long-term shape, and have the better core, but last night the two teams looked an awful lot alike: as if they’re not quite sure how to win games together yet.

And that’s okay, Wolves fans, because it was the second game of the season. Rome wasn’t built in a day. I mean, yeah, some of the more cynical and negative among us may gloat a bit about being “right,” and may feel justified for casting a leery side eye at the avalanche of glowing season preview pieces that were written and all that silly, silly “playoff” talk, but really, for the rest of you glass-half-full types, it’s two games. The Wolves didn’t make their free throws. As the acronym says, Y(ou) G(ot) T(o) M(ake) Y(our) F(ree) T(hrows). Got to. Wolves haven’t. 0-2.

I guess the only lesson I take from it is that patience is good, but watching the team struggle to close out games despite jumping out to big leads is still a bit disappointing.

Anyway, we all know the only reason to *really* freak out would be if the Wolves’ most important player, Ricky Rubio, got injured…

… Well, shit:

After the game, Thibs told the assembled media it’s a sprain, and that Rubio would be evaluated further on Sunday. I’m sure we’ll have more once a timetable is given for his return.

Not to actually freak out, but if Ricky’s out for any extended period of time, the Wolves are going to struggle mightily to win games. Kris Dunn looked a bit better in Game 2 versus Game 1, but he still has a long way to go. A Dunn/Tyus Jones point guard rotation would have all kinds of issues, the former with running the offense, and the latter with playing adequate defense. Hopefully (fingers crossed) the injury is nothing serious. Ricky’s madman defensive chops and leadership on the offensive end cannot be overstated; at this juncture, he’s the glue holding all of it together.

A few other tidbits from the game…

1. Boogie is fun

2. Boogie is lots of fun

3. Even when he gets a technical, he is still fun

4. KAT is also fun

5. Bazz can be, too

6. Wiggins as well

7. I mean jeeeeeeez

The Wolves get back at it Tuesday night when they play host to the Memphis Grizzlies in the home opener.

Chins up. 80-2 is still in play.*

(*So long as Ricky isn’t out too long. Be okay, Ricky.*)

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5 Responsesso far.

  1. pyrrol says:

    “Quick” hits:

    The broadcast (including Thibs’ words after the game) talked a lot about getting ‘out physicaled’ and that we are a light team. This is true, but I think we have to learn to play better to our strengths, which isn’t beef. If we grow into our frames it’s going to take a while. I say if, because a lot of our guys may never been super strong. Looking at Wiggins’ narrow shoulders makes one wonder if he’ll ever be in the vicinity of Rudy Gay type strength. Towns will get stronger but he’s not ever going to be a beef guy. LaVine will always be on the skinny side, Dieng has put on about as much muscle as he’s going to get and he’s still not a trad center, body-wise.

    How hard is it to win an NBA game!? These aren’t exactly the Goliaths we’ve been dealing with so far. 2 games in is nothing, but I didn’t expect us to look this uncooked to start the season, and only fun to watch for spurts. This should be a league pass team even if not quite a playoff team…

    I liked Willey Cauley Stein coming out of the draft, but he just doesn’t look smart out there. He’s not the same type of athlete at this level either and he’s not added any skills yet. Might be a tough career for him.

    I think it is imperative that we get LaVine more shots, esp in crunch time.

    Man, sports are random. Who would have guessed we’d see Towns come out of the gates like this!? I’m not sure what his problem is, but he’s way off. The numbers don’t tell the full story. This doesn’t look like the same player we saw out of the gates as a rookie. Perhaps he’s not found his place in Thib’s schemes, but how hard can that be given all of his skill? He’s mostly a non-factor on D, and only seems to feel flow on O for short stints. Completely unlike the player we’ve grown to know so far. In that sense it is kind of a worry… I’m sure he’ll come around, but what is the source of this trouble and can it be eliminated?

    Wiggins looks like his old self, but the work he put in during the offseason is showing. Every game he hits a three in is a cause for celebration. Oddly though, so far Thibs is doing the hacky go to laser eyes thing with Wiggins and it is giving me Sam Mitchell deja vu. Simply put, Wiggins isn’t good enough to be used as a hands down closer end of game go to. We have Zach and Towns too, and we should keep teams guessing. SAC knew for sure that we were going to Wiggins at the end, and force it too him at times generally.

    SAC may be out of laughingstock land this season and we may still have one foot in it when all is said and done. They have some players now, and Dave is a good coach.

    The rotations were more usual, and less disconcerting for the players but I feel like Shabazz needs more minutes. The bench guys have zero chemistry developed so far, and that’s going to take a while if it is this far behind now. That means some pretty tough games for Bjelica and Dunn and Rush. I feel like these guys can do much better. Everyone looks a bit off now, perhaps save LaVine and Wiggins.

    No one seems to be mentioning that Rubio was injured on an extremely dirty play that didn’t even draw a foul call. It should have never happened, there’s no place in the league for that type of play. But if the NBA is at all interested in protecting their talent they need to call that stuff out and punish folks who do things like that. No idea how serious the injury is, but I expect Rubio to miss time and that could get ugly. I will say that Dunn has looked better than I expected so far given his preseason struggles. So, that’s a plus I guess…

    Back to my opening point, Boogie played well, sure. Yeah he beat up on us. What to you expect? He outweighs Towns by 60 lbs. But who cares? We made him work and got into his head. He can’t score enough to beat us alone. We lost because of Gay and Barnes etc. Don’t worry about Boogie getting ‘his’. Worry about playing to the strengths we have and trying to force them on the other team. So far this team plays on its heels and feels coached on its heels. It hides our talent. For instance, we shot 51% and could have played better–that used to be a huge problem for us, just making shots. But we still play out of sync, inconsistent and almost like we are expecting to loose. The 3rd quarter was head scratching.

    • Ryan says:

      Yep KAT has been disappointing so far. He isn’t scoring or rebounding how he should. In fairness to him, I don’t think the coaches/team are putting him in good spots to score. I don’t recall many plays ran for him and why isn’t he the one setting screens up top for rubio/wiggins etc? I mean Gorgi’s is a fine shooter at the top of the key but he isn’t KAT. I would much rather have KAT running the pick n roll/pop especially because he is much more likely to make the defense pay if they decide to switch.

      Also one other thing to vent about. I know the wolves don’t have great three point shooters, but how does an NBA team throw up 5 air balls (most of which were uncontested)? I mean rubio was wide open and had time to step into the shot and still left a foot short.

      • biggity2bit says:

        Meh. I think it’s a young team learning a new offense and a new defense. They just played two relatively veteran teams, who both have the experience and coaching to play a physical style that can ruffle inexperience, and we lost due to execution down the stretch. That strongly suggests to me that guys are thinking too much instead of reacting.

        Consider this observation: not including Pek, the cumulative total minutes of our top 9 most experienced players is less than KG’s career minutes.

        Rush is our most experienced player, at 9559 minutes, or less than a third of Prince’s career minutes.
        Rubio – 8810
        Hill – 7645
        Wiggins – 5885 (yes, Wigs is our fourth most experienced player by minutes played)
        Gorgui – 5300
        LaVine – 4266 (yes, Wigs, G, and Zach are our 4-6 most experienced players on the team, and not by a little)
        Lucas III – 2916
        Bazz – 2863
        Aldrich – 2831

        This team is YOUNG! 60% of our starters could still be in college, as well as three of our reserves. The talent is clearly there – it’s a question now of leadership (what player is going to step up and set the expectations for everyone), and simply getting to work and learning. My prediction is that we’ll see a different level of performance games 21-40 than we do in games 1-20.

        As for the physical stuff – Tayshaun has been a great defender without being big. Dray is a great defender despite often being undersized. Curry too. The best defenders are great not because they physically dominate you, but because they know how to play angles and spots in a way where their physical gifts are an added icing on the cake.

        • biggity2bit says:

          Seriously. Boogie has 13,199 career minutes to Towns’ 2701. Boogie is now where Towns will be in another 3+ seasons. Then who wins?

          Gay has 25,901 career minutes to Wigs’ 5885.

          I’m not even going to get into Mempis’ experience.

          Consider that Kawhi Leonard would lead the Wolves in total career minutes at 9775. Steph Curry is already at 17,327.

          The point is that it’s going to be a process, and what we need to look for is growth through the season.

  2. pyrrol says:

    I think it is important to have reasonable expectations for such a young team. Above I said my main expectation is that we will be fun to watch and follow (a league pass team) but it does seem like a long shot playoff team given the strength in the West. Being fun to watch generally requires some winning, so I expect us to win games frequently. Even given our youth, I think this is pretty reasonable. However, I’m not a huge excuses guy. If we say ‘It’s OK that we lost and didn’t look that good tonight, we played a more vet team,’ we could say that about anyone but the 76ers. We will lose some games because of inexperience, but it can’t be an excuse to underachieve all season. I’m looking forward to our first win, as I think it will help our confidence as a team and we will start looking less tight.

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