2017-18 Season

Clippers 118, Timberwolves 126 … And Counting

Good evening, I will get started on this recap as soon as we know the final score. See, in the waning seconds of the game, Doc Rivers got a technical and was tossed. Mike Woodson, too. So the Wolves have to shoot these free throws, and… well, there goes Sam Cassell, who got his second “T” and is also gone. Lawrence Frank, busy filing those reports, must’ve poked his head up to say something untoward, because I see he’s headed up the tunnel as well. If the Wolves could just finish shooting these free throws, we could all go home… wait… hell’s bells, they just tossed Clippers consultant and NBA legend Jerry West. The Logo. Kicked his ass out of the arena, he’s screaming at official #12, CJ Washington, telling him “Dick Barnett used to wear #12 for the 1971 Knickerbockers, and that motherf—er couldn’t take me one on one, and neither can you!” Jerry, you’re 79 years old, this completely unbecoming of you…

Ugh, man, while they’re sorting all of this out, let me tell you a bit about the rest of the ballgame.

The Wolves were without Jimmy Butler again, but managed to do what they were unable to do earlier in the season: win without their main catalyst, and for the second consecutive game. Andrew Wiggins was simply marvelous, and save for a few quibbles with his shot selection late, had one of his best games of the season. As of now, he’s dropped 40 points on 16-of-28 shooting, and he also made a terrific hustle play on a broken play late that helped force the backbreaking Blake Griffin turnover with 14 seconds to go.

He also had a very sweet dunk:

Jeff Teague was also terrific: 30 points and 6 dimes. KAT had just one field goal but still managed to log 11 points to go along with his 17 rebounds. Nemanja Bjelica had 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists while playing very aggressive basketball (he attempted 9 threes, a career-high). Taj, who put up 16-4-2, was his usual steady self.

Offensively, the Wolves were great, but defensively, it was a bad night. The Clippers registered 72 points in the paint, 27 points from outside the arc, and 15 from the free throw line. That leaves just 4 from outside the paint / long-two. They shot 56%, shared the ball beautifully on their way to 31 assists, saw their bench outscore Minnesota’s 47-to-13, and outscored the Wolves 25-to-13 in fastbreak points. And still… the Wolves won.

Minnesota’s bench struggled big time. Tyus Jones was largely ineffecive in 13 minutes; Bazz had a couple nice moments, but still wound up a minus-8; and Gorgui was a non-factor save for one emphatic swat of a Blake Griffin drive. Marcus Georges-Hunt fouled out after 21 minutes of action, having scored 4 points, but I remain impressed with his game. As he stands on the perimeter on offense, he is always talking and pointing out where to go with the ball; this, to me, shows a guy who understands the offense and plays to team concepts. He is also a surprisingly good and willing passer, a somewhat unexpected (but very welcome!) trait for a young player trying to make his mark.

On the other side, Blake Griffin was outstanding, registering a 32-12-12 triple-double, before falling apart in the final minute by committing two bad turnovers. He was also very grouchy. Something is going on with him/the team (more on that later). Montrezl Harrell (23 points, 6 rebounds) and Lou Williams (20 points, 7 assists) were dynamite off the bench for the Clippers. Harrell was rim-running and ducking in for easy baskets, never giving the Wolves’ interior a possession off; Williams was slinking through the perimeter for floaters or to create for his teammates. Both played terrific basketball. And Milos Teodosic deserves a mention, too. That chainsmoking madman registered 15 points and 6 dimes in 28 minutes.

Checking back in on the ejections… Golly. The Head Video Coordinator (Chris Holguin) and one of the Assistant Video Coordinators (it’s either Pete Dominguez or Daniel Fitzpatrick, it’s hard for me to tell those two apart) have been ejected. Champ Baginski, director of youth basketball for the team, just took off his shirt and threatened to fight; not a good look, in my opinion. Assistant team chef Patrick Schustz has also been assessed a technical; he didn’t do anything in particular, as far as I can tell, I believe it’s because his pregame lemon soufflé was mighty underwhelming. Gosh, if the Clippers aren’t careful, here, the only people leaving the arena without a technical foul to their name will be Kevin Hart and Milos Teodosic’s cigarette caddy.

Anyway, it was a seesaw battle; there were 12 ties and 22 lead changes, and the second half looked like it could’ve gone either way. But the Wolves just made more plays when it mattered most. Looking back, this Bjelica three was probably the dagger:

A few more odds and ends before we go…

So, there’s this:

Is something afoot? Are the Clips trading DeAndre? Is that why they seem so pissy, and are currently racking up end-of-game technicals at an astounding rate?

Here’s that Gorgui block I told you about earlier:

While this was a nice play, he kept getting behind the play on defense, allowing the Clippers to get some very easy baskets. Not a great night overall for Gorgui.

That KAT turnover with 27 seconds to go, and the Wolves up by 3…

I thought Thibs was going to have a heart attack.

The Wolves get back to it tomorrow night in Portland…

Provided, of course, the Clippers stop racking up techs so the Wolves can catch their flight out of town…

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9 thoughts on “Clippers 118, Timberwolves 126 … And Counting

  1. Jeez, and I said the LAST game was weird…

    In this one I was watching toward the end, but not yet at the Clippers meltdown and my brain was like, ‘Man, Griffin and the Clippers whine a lot!’ A few minutes later Benz said Teague had or would soon score 30 points. And my brain was like, ‘Whhhhat? That’s not possible. He only made 6 or 7 shots!’ Sometimes I blank out free throws or use that time to get a snack refill. Toward the end, I had to admit the officiating in this game was a little off. Actually, I feel like the officiating has been really good this year, but it’s been getting worse, especially lately. But it sometimes is easy to overlook because we aren’t always on the wrong side of it. In this one the Clippers did get the shorter end of the stick, although it was chewed up on both ends. Then I looked at the box after the game. TEAGUE HAD 17 FREE THROW ATTEMPTS! As a team we had 39! That suddenly explained everything–how Teague actually got 30 points and why the Clippers had a reactor core meltdown.

    Wiggins was good in this one. Conditions were favorable for him in this one: No defense by either team, no pesky Butler to steal his attempts, constantly being fed the ball, 28 field goal attempts(!). To put this in perspective, giant ball hog of earth James Harden had 26 in his win tonight. On the plus side, Wiggins played well on offense two games in a row, and this one had no apparent ‘reason’ such as he finds in Cleveland and Toronto games. Nice! He had a pretty small bag of tricks… a few threes, lots of spin move drives or post-ups, some mid range shots. But LA hadn’t a clue how to stop it so we just kept feeding him. In other words, these are nice moves, but against a normal team without so many injuries and with their heads screwed on right this Wiggins potpourri would not be nearly as effective. Also, he’s going to have to figure out how to play better with Jimmy there, and without being spoon fed 28 looks. The immaturity kind of wafts off of the guy… But TALENT. Also what was that fuchsia Gatorade (R) that he was drinking?

    Teague…. redemption! I get that Teague can draw fouls at times (although not consistently, and never like this!) and that is an important skill in being a good player. Ask James Harden. But lets say he doesn’t get to the line in this one. His 30 points is suddenly 14. Uhhh, I guess the Clippers weren’t just whining for the heck of it… Teague looked to score and like Wiggins did so.

    Even Jim Pete has been driven to wonder out loud why KAT isn’t being given the ball and set up more by this team and offensive system. In a game where Willie Reed was starting at C and Harrell was playing C a ton (he’s a tough paint player, but he’s like 6’8″) it makes it even more nuts that KAT had 7 looks. He’s not playing his most aggressive, but the problem here is the system and a memo either to not get him the ball or at least a strong implication that it’s not important at all. Just so nuts. If we play like this, I think we waltz out of the playoffs in the first round. But it’s starting to become an issue keeping our biggest talent and franchise future happy. He’s going to want out if things keep going like this. And you know what? I wouldn’t blame him. The way he’s being used is nuts. It’s so wasteful and weird. And the way Wiggins is always favored over him as far as the lengths the organization goes to develop and make young players happy… It’s just strange. It’s like KAT is the kid the parents didn’t mean to have and Wiggins is the kid they had on purpose so they had someone to give the family business to. What is this based on? Clearly KAT is the better player, the higher potential, and the more invested personality. It’s getting on my nerves a lot. To the point where I can’t enjoy wins as much as I should. On the other hand, this wasn’t exactly top notch basketball and I feel a little dirty after this one, so there were some other reasons this wasn’t the most fun win.

    I mean, hey, it got the job done, but I keep staring at this like one of those magic eye things from the 90’s: Field goal attempts–Bjelly 13, Gibson, 13, Towns 7(!) Wiggins 28, Teague 14 (but what if you factor in the 17 free throws!). My retinas hurt.

    Surprise, the bench was bad and didn’t play that much! Gorgui was terrible. Shabazz isn’t a team destroyer it turns out. I guess all that sitting was punitive. Huh. Hunt plays tough but fouled out with a lot of time left in the game in 21 minutes of action off the bench. Yikes. Not a good game for Tyus. But as usual, what do you expect with only 13 minutes and playing totally with a zero chemistry bench. Tyus matches with the starters way better, but gets almost no time with them.

    DeAndre might be moving. Where? I’m nervous. He doesn’t really whine enough for this team, true…

    I call Milos ‘A-hole Rubio’ for some reason. He’s very different from Rubio, but if you squint he looks like Rubio’s Euro street punk older brother. Seriously, though, he’s more of a scorer, combo guy, but he’s got good size, and has that same set of Euro PG fundamentals as Rubio (without the crazy knack). It’s just this familiar haze… I miss that approach on this team. Milos might be a pretty fun player after he gets more acclimated to the NBA.

    1. I totally agreed with u on Towns and how he is being used, 2 games with no butler and 5 or 6 player are taking more shots in both games that’s just ridículous and no one can’t say is a thing of him not being aggressive,it’s about the way he is being used.. the man is only taking 13 shots per game which is 5 less that last year and that’s not how many touches a legit star in this league gets, they are winning and most people not paying attention but when extension comes in the off season and he doesn’t want to sign I won’t be surprise at all

    2. Wow I’ve never seen quite the back handed compliment for a guy who dragged us to a victory. You really dislike Wiggins, every time I read the comments there you are generally bagging on him.

      1. Wiggins deserves it. He only shows this type of effort when he’s getting shots or against Cleveland and Canada teams. He’s the 3rd scoring option on this team. When he understands that, he’ll be the best 3rd option scorer in the league and a very good overall player.

  2. It is obvious why KAT got so little play tonight. Teague was holding the ball and getting fouled. Jeff is not a good passer to bigs down low. He needs a screen to get into the lane and KAT is the better perimeter shooter over Taj, so he sets the screen. None of our bigs got much at the rim tonight, unless they backed down their guy like Taj did. What I don’t know is whether or not, this was Thibs game plan for tonight, or not? If it was his game plan, then it is a mistake. No Jordan down low and you aren’t pounding the Clips inside with KAT? That is silly. Expecting the Clips to foul Teague 15-16 times in the act of shooting is also ridiculous. You had a player in Wiggins who was seeing the basket pretty well and gets 40 points and a PG that gets 30 at the FT line and you barely win this game. I know that Jimmy and Crawford were out tonight, but the Clippers were the walking wounded.and they scored 118 against you.

    KAT played no defense, and the rest of team wasn’t much better. I’m a little worried that when KAT doesn’t score, he doesn’t get interested in defense either. I think of what the greats like Hakeem, Shaq and the Admiral would have done defensively against last night’s Clipper team. KAT needs to be a leader on both ends of the floor, and if one end isn’t going his way because Teague wants to shoot or Wiggins is hot, then he has to be using his talents to be a dominant defensive player on the other end.

    This is a classic example of a close game not being a good game. Thibs teams have a lot of those. It was a win they needed because they go to Portland and G State next and even if they get Jimmy and Crawford back, they will not be able to win if they play defense like they did last night.

    1. The one thing I would add to this is that while KAT certainly still has a long way to go on D, which this game exposed, the whole team was to blame. KAT played OK D at times, and had a really nice block. There certainly is a ‘I don’t get involved on O, then I’m not playing D’ aspect to KAT. I think that’s common among young, privileged players. It’s frustrating, but you do have to meet them halfway on getting involved. There was zero effort to get KAT involved in this one, and generally isn’t enough. He does pretty darn well at getting HIMSELF involved in most games, but there’s no special effort on the coach’s part. Wiggins is the exact same way but worse. If he isn’t involved in the O his inclined to do nothing and not even bring a professional level of effort. Yet he’s never called out for it by team leadership and there is generally a much larger effort to get him involved than KAT for some reason. He might need it more, but KAT is a better player with more unique skills for this roster (Butler does what Wiggins does better, no one does what KAT does better). These extra takes with no Butler made him a live wire the last two (will it last). But he’s not good enough to get rid of Butler and get all those takes himself. Yet it seems like the only way he fully functions as a player. That’s a red flag to me. Meanwhile, KAT does pretty good with what the team gives him, so to speak. But he’s got some developing to do. It seems to be coming along, though.

  3. Hopefully, now that KAT has made the All-Star team for what should be first of many, He may step up his work ethic when he sees how hard a lot of the All-Stars work and how competitive they are. Of course the All-Star game is a glorified scrimmage, but I have heard that even games like pool and cards get pretty alpha male when the best get together. KAT should feel he belongs, but he should also take notes on everything these guys are about. He also should listen to the legends that love telling him about the past and how they worked on their low post games.

    I agree that as the second best offensive weapon on the team, KAT is overlooked a lot in the offense and because of his shooting ability is pulled away from the basket to help lesser talents (Teague and Wiggins) get theirs. Now that can be a good thing when teams are double teaming KAT because he is a dangerous scorer to balance the attack, but as I mentioned earlier, when guys five inches shorter need to guard KAT, you are helping them by pulling him away from the basket. Big guys need to be rewarded for rebounding and running up and down the floor. Rubio knew that. Tyus gets it. Teague should know better, but at least last night, he was all about his own stats. The refs and Clips bailed him out when he drove to the basket and he kept going back for more.

    It is always interesting to watch the rest of the team, when guys like Kyrie or Westbrook get greedy. They typically stand around and watch. The plays start farther and farther away from the basket. It just gets boring to watch.

    One last thing, Can Thibs come up with a play at the end of a quarter, besides standing and dribbling until their is five seconds and then try to hit a three from some difficult position? It is cool when it works, it just doesn’t work that often.

  4. I think a basic point that must be made here, and I hope it penetrates Thibs’ stubborn cranium: Butler and KAT were voted as all stars and Wiggins was not.

    I’m kinda nutty, but I think KAT is our best offensive player. Butler is our go to guy, our best vet scorer, our alpha, and good in the clutch and… proven. But he can’t score in the post like KAT. KAT is also a better three point shooter. He’s probably a better mid range shooter as well. Jimmy makes his money driving and getting fouled, and he’s better at this than KAT, but for a big KAT is excellent at driving to the rim and ball handling.

    I’m not a big Westbrook or Kyrie fan for that reason. They are ball hogs that freeze up team offense very often. They are extremely gifted, so while this happens they are usually putting on a dazzling individual performance. But I get numb to that at some point, and it gets it done in the regular season but puts a natural cap on your team in the playoffs. This is a reason I loved Rubio so much. He was all about creating dynamic TEAM offense. In the NBA, this has often been ignored for the sake and ease (with the kind of talent sometimes available) of hero ball and individual performances. I think it is more fun to watch a dynamic team offense, with or without starts, than a Westbrook team. And more effective, if harder than just leaning on a star to do his thing.

    Good point about Thibs. I know I make a hobby of being hard on him and yet we have a really decent record, but I’ve not seen ONE x’s and o’s thing that impressed me from him. It’s actually amazing. In this respect, even very mediocre coaches have there moments in the sun with X’s and O’s. Not Thibs. For this among other reasons I am nervous about this team being super successful and fun to watch for the rest of the season. With the talent we have and the wins already accrued we should get into the playoffs with a good seeding. But we will probably crap out in the first round. It’s possible, on seeding and the badness of the bottom, that we will get out of the first round by just overwhelming with talent. Either way after not making the playoffs this will be seen as a huge franchise success and a validation of Thibs. Both of these are mistaken perspectives. Our budget is blown and our window is small going forward, and our POBO is Thibs. Our coach is also Thibs, and his lack of flexibility, modern strategy and X and O prowess is actually a big handicap. If none of this is acknowledged then trouble is ahead despite the obvious progress.

  5. KAT is the best offensive player on this team. He should be getting more touches than anyone. He is not a ball hog either. He’s a great passer from the post and is good at setting his teammates up. Him and Rubio were dynamite together. I don’t get Thibs strategy with Towns. It seems to me at times that Thibs has it out for Towns for no reason.

    Tonight is a night where having Jeff Teague is actually a good thing. He becomes that scoring punch we need when one of our main 3 is injured. It still doesn’t excuse his inability to get it to Towns though.

    Can we trade Jeff Teague for Kawhai Leonard? I’d be willing to give up Wiggins if not Teague. Could you imagine a Kawhai and Butler wing tandem? The other team would average 85 points a game.

    I am impressed with the Wolves winning these games without our leader. This is a game we lose last year.

    But it still frustrates me that we aren’t taking advantage of the roster and maximize our strengths. Getting out in transition. Feeding Towns. Playing Jones. Less Teague. Too much Crawford. Not playing the bench enough. Driving and kicking. Actual out of bounds plays. Actual end of quarter/game plays. This team has shown flashes of absolute brilliance when a lot of those things happen and I wish Thibs would see that and make changes, but he doesn’t.

    Thibs deserves hardly any credit as a coach for our success this year. All the credit should go to Butler and Gibson and what they’ve brought to the team. There isn’t one thing I can think of Thibs has done as a coach that attributes to our success.

    If someone can name something, I’m seriously curious to know what that is. Discuss.

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