Wolves 101, Heat 96: Gorgui’s Louisville Homecoming


Buried beneath our love for all things KAT, collective daydreaming about Wiggins’ ceiling, staring with mouths agape at LaVine’s high-flying antics, deep appreciation for everything Ricky does, excitement for the new Thibs era, way down there, somewhere, there’d better be some Gorgui Dieng gratitude. Gorgratitude, if I may. Shabazz Muhammad alone would be a pretty good return for the Trey Burke trade; that it was Bazz AND Gorgui means it was highway robbery. Since slipping all the way to the 21st pick in the 2013 draft, he’s done a ton of work to improve. Gorgui has become good enough to be a starter on a decent team, or a third big on a pretty good team, as Andy and Patrick discussed Saturday morning. He’s quiet, and won’t get the average fan fired up, exactly, but every team needs a guy like ‘G” who does the dirty work.

This weekend was a homecoming of sorts for Dieng, who was part of Louisville’s 2013 National Championship team. The whole Wolves squad was in attendance Friday night to watch the 7th-ranked Cardinals football team take on Duke. Gorgui was a guest of honor:

Before we go any further, there’s something we need to discuss: Gorgui’s sweatshirt is tied around his waist like a damn nerd.

Gorgui, Gorgui, Gorgui. My friend, you are Gorgui Dieng. You are not a nerd. You are a professional athlete who can wear the hell out of a damn suit. You’re a fashionable guy. Your pocket square game is impeccable. Your casual game is usually pretty strong. So how in God’s name do you end up with your sweatshirt tied around your waist, looking like meemaw when she gets overheated ambling from one garage sale to the next? You’re about to be a very wealthy man. That sweatshirt look isn’t even rookie-scale.

But in all seriousness, the reception he got on Friday night was pretty cool:

Despite, you know, his obvious wardrobe gaffe.

Anyhoo, the game.

It wasn’t televised, so all we have to work from is the official box score, which is why I’m trying to jazz up this recap by playfully poking fun at Gorgui’s old-person sweatshirt-tied-around-the-waist thing:


Here’s what we know: Saturday night, the Wolves faced the Heat at the KFC Yum! Center, which is the real name of their arena, and no, I am not kidding, because there it is, right at the top of the page, it says “KFC Yum! Center,” on an NBA stat sheet, which is a legally binding document:


Miami, who played Friday night in San Antonio, decided to rest Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, Hassan Whiteside and Udonis Haslem on Saturday, and who can blame them? Of all the dumb things in the dumb world, preseason back-to-backs may be the dumbest. Justise Winslow started, but played only seven minutes. The rest of the starting lineup was Beno Udrih, Dion Waiters, Derrick Williams and Willie Reed. Something called Rodney McGruber played 39 minutes and led them in scoring.

In that respect, it’s surprising the game was as close as it was. The Wolves only went ten deep, with what appears to be Thibs’ clear first and second units soaking up all the playing time. Andrew Wiggins was in for 30 minutes and Towns played 28. Both put up excellent numbers (23 points on 9-of-16 for Wigg, 16 points and 14 boards for KAT), but considering the competition, maybe that should’ve been the baseline expectation.

The Wolves allowed the Heat to shoot 41% on 32 attempts from beyond the arc, so they didn’t defend the perimeter particularly well, and they also turned the ball over 21 times. Minnesota registered just 16 assists on their 38 made baskets. The second quarter, in which they were outscored 37-24, was characterized as an “abomination” by Thibs after the game. Minnesota recovered in the third, led by Wiggins, who scored 11 in that frame alone. The homecoming king, Gorgui, finished with 12 points and 2 blocks in 25 minutes of action.

Maybe it’s being nitpicky – and it’s impossible to really tell, because we didn’t get to watch, but a 6-point victory against Miami’s B-team feels a smidge underwhelming, to say the least, especially when the Wolves were sticking to a short rotation.

Minensota gets back at it tomorrow night in OKC against the Thunder – the silver lining of the preseason back-to-back is that some of the Wolves’ bench (namely Tyus Jones) should see some action, which would be a welcome sight. Here’s to hoping we all actually get to see it.

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2 Responsesso far.

  1. pyrrol says:

    I don’t put much stock into preseason, so this margin against the B squad doesn’t bother me. That said, I do think it will take a while into the regular season to see our defense come together totally. It will be a process. But you can rest assured that it will be a relentless, smart focus until it gets where it needs to be under Thibs.

    Interesting to hear talk about another Rubio D gear we didn’t know about. Hard to believe! I’d say my biggest surprise is how in all but one preseason game we played basically our regular season bench and starters only–like a tight 10-some guy rotation. I find it odd that Thibs wouldn’t use these junk games to experiment a little with marginal bench guys to see if they could crack the rotation, and simply to play the deep bench guys to give them in-game experience with our new systems. The lack of Tyus time is extra confusing to me as Dunn has generally played poorly to an alarming degree. I mean alarming in the sense that, we have expectations this season, and a better bench and some of our bench prowess could be mitigated by having only Dunn leading them from point. Turnovers will be an issue with this unit, led by Dunn. Tyus has his own set of problems, but it would make sense to play enough both to prepare them and then in the regular season they are both ready to play as many bench minutes as needed. A theory why this isn’t happening as much as normal is that we are a young team with a revamped bench going from a not good coach and almost no system to a new, picky, good coach with complex systems. Perhaps Thibs feels he needs every moment with the projected guys who will get minutes (which he’s decided on already) to just get them ready for regular season play with all the changes and learning curve issues.

    I think either Dunn will adjust fast, hit a new gear and do really impressive things soon into the season, or he’ll play so bad that Thibs will have to start giving Tyus some minutes. We’re not bad enough that we can just dump all bench PG minutes in Dunn’s lap for LaVine-like on the job learning if he doesn’t play better in the regular season. We need wins, confidence, to scare people that we might make the post season. If he’s not playing well, that could mean cutting Dunn’s minutes or moving some of them over to bench SG (this might be hard with Rush and how well Shabazz has been playing) while Tyus plays some bench PG in games. It should be interesting. Either way we are going to find a way to win games and be fun to watch.

    • biggity2bit says:

      Haven’t heard about Rubio’s D being better. That’s awesome.

      TBH, I think we’re overdue for some games like this – high turnovers, poor three point defense, lots of guys’ stat lines looking just a little off. Looks like a team practicing new systems and not exactly getting it. We need to go through this so guys can see it on film and be coached up.

      As for the rotations, I think Thibs has a pretty good idea of all these guys by now. Seems like they’ve been working together for 4 weeks already. Tyus especially seems like players he’s had previously, so Thibs’ learning curve might be more with the ‘new’ bench seen last night. He might be trying to keep some consistency there because he’s focused on finding out exactly what he has in Bazz and Dunn – where they are at in their development.

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