Archives For Zach Harper

LovePost

I’m not sure a game like this loss to the San Antonio Spurs is ever good, per se.

The Spurs established their dominance by playing exactly how they love to play. The Wolves never were able to take back control of the game or dictate their own style. While both teams like to move the ball up the floor and use brilliant decision-making and passing to put the defense on their heels, the Spurs do it in a much less chaotic style. The Wolves can play that structured tempo the Spurs love to throw at their opponents, but everything has to be clicking for the Wolves.

Things certainly weren’t clicking Sunday night, outside of Nikola Pekovic continuing his torrid affair with scoring the basketball and being a presence inside. Kevin Love couldn’t seem to find a way to hit a shot or get past the solid defender that is Boris Diaw (that’s not pejorative either; he’s become a defensive presence). Kevin Martin couldn’t finish inside and he couldn’t knock down a jumper. Corey Brewer looked lost on both ends of the floor as he was a non-factor on offense and he got destroyed by Kawhi Leonard on the other end. Ricky Rubio distributed well but just couldn’t have a big impact against Tony Parker.

So while this loss wasn’t good for the Wolves as I stated above, sometimes it’s a nice reminder of just how important each part of the system is, so you don’t lose sight of the value of each component.  Continue Reading…

PekHappy

The hardest thing for me when it comes to writing about basketball is figuring out what to write when the Wolves blow somebody out. Everything typically goes correctly, because that’s how blowouts happen. There’s something odd about writing, “hey, the game plan worked!” especially when it’s against a bad team that is missing key players.

I’ve had a hard time coming up with stuff to say about the game, which might be a good thing. The Wolves had a bad collapse at the end of the loss to the Suns that sent everybody into a craze. It was the Wolvespocalypse and nothing was ever going to be sane again. Kevin Love was demanding a trade. Ricky Rubio needed more D-League time than Shabazz Muhammad. And the game had passed Rick Adelman by and he needed to get fired. These were obviously some of the extreme reactions to what happened.

And then they bounce back by taking care of business the next day. This has been the pattern for the team, which shows resilience but it doesn’t show growth. The question ends up being is resilience enough?  Continue Reading…

Bud

The rotation may finally be whole. While the starting lineup of the Minnesota Timberwolves has been great for the team almost the entire season, the bench has been pretty tough to handle. As the season has gone on, Rick Adelman has found ways to stagger the substitutions and try to leave at least one of the main scorers (Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin) on the floor with a few members of the bench. But the Wolves’ starters are still averaging more minutes per game than any lineup in the league.

They may finally be getting a little more rest. Ronny Turiaf returned to the team Friday night against the Philadelphia 76ers and Chase Budinger will make his season debut for the Wolves Wednesday night when they face the Phoenix Suns. Continue Reading…

The Minnesota Timberwolves are trying to get Kevin Love to the All-Star Game as a starter, after being just a mere 22,000 votes behind Los Angeles Clippers’ power forward Blake Griffin from the last voting returns.

In terms of individual credentials, it’s hard to find someone more deserving in the Western Conference not named Kevin Durant. Love is currently second in the NBA in scoring (26.4 per game), second in rebounding (13.3 per game), first in assists for power forwards (4.3 per game), fifth in free throw attempts (7.7 per game), eighth in 3-pointers made, and first in awesome outlet passes (a lot). In comparing his stats to Griffin’s, Love blows him away in almost every category.

However, Griffin is doing what he’s doing for a much better team. The Clippers are 24-13, 5.5 games ahead of the Wolves right now. Griffin is also in a much bigger market and is more popular, giving him a decided advantage in garnering votes. Wolves are asking fans to tweet, “Kevin Love #NBABallot” in addition to posting in on Facebook, Instagram, iCarrierPigeon, texting, stalking the league office, and whatever avenues might get Love to the All-Star Game in New Orleans as a starter.

Regardless of whether or not he starts, he’ll definitely make the West roster and represent the Wolves.

EdMaLOLy

If you want to be cute about how you view the final play of this game, you immediately pull out the old rule book and read off the section in which the “hand is part of the ball.” It’s a valid rule. I cite it often when a player gets hit on the hand as he’s going up for a shot. The hand is literally part of the ball in the NBA rulebook and it’s a good rule. It’s not just an excuse for Sidney Deane to avoid getting a foul called on him when going to Sizzler is possibly on the line (I know that didn’t happen during the Sizzler bet but you try leaving that out and see how fun it is).

Here’s the problem with citing the “hand is part of the ball” rule: when you reach across someone’s body and have to make contact with the wrist and forearm in order to make contact with the hand, it kind of negates the citation of said rule. And by “kind of” I mean it completely negates it. That’s the problem I have with this conversation. You can view this play as a blown call and it doesn’t mean the league is running rampant with Tim Donaghy clones that are lying to avoid laws he doesn’t understand. Continue Reading…

WolvesBenchQuestionMark

For weeks, I’ve been banging the drum of waiting for the turn in the schedule. While inconsistencies have teased our basketball hearts and frustrations have mounted, I’ve preached patience and perspective in this 82-game campaign. Their early schedule was pretty brutal. Lots of back-to-backs on the road and against really good teams. Lots of one game home “stretches” that required a ton of weird travel. The strength of schedule has been tough as well. Heading into tonight’s game against the Washington Wizards, the Wolves are tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for the third toughest schedule this season.

Of the top 10 toughest schedules in the NBA, only the Golden State Warriors (17-13), Phoenix Suns (17-10), Oklahoma City Thunder (23-5), and San Antonio Spurs (23-7) have winning records despite their tough slate to begin the season. The Wolves had the next best record of the bunch at 13-15. They have been treading water and avoiding going under, even though their inconsistent play has been driving a lot of fans and people around the area crazy. The stink of 10 sad years of basketball has been unfairly placed on this current version of the Wolves, not properly resetting expectations and feelings of what this roster is in the process.

Tread water and get to the much easier stretch of games in January. Then we find out what this team is truly made of for the rest of this season. Continue Reading…

The Minnesota Timberwolves have been waiting for Chase Budinger to get healthy enough to see if the money committed and the vision of Flip Saunders this offseason would provide the necessary balance to make this more of a complete team. Continue Reading…

RickyRicky

This was an annoying loss. There are a couple of go-to scapegoats you could give for this loss. Wolves were on the second night of a road back-to-back and we saw a lot of missed shots that would normally be easy makes. The Wolves were also playing without their second leading scorer and the 16th leading scorer in the NBA Kevin Martin. Losing all of that firepower will certainly hurt your attack, even though he hasn’t been good the last three games because of a knee issue.

The Celtics are also a much more competitive team than most initially thought heading into the season. Brad Stevens is a fantastic coach and they all seem to know the role they’re supposed to play. Give them the home court advantage and this is a team that can be a handful to deal with on any given night in the NBA. Those are all perfectly good excuses for why the Wolves didn’t win Monday night in Boston. And they had a chance to win. They were down one with about 30 seconds left until a wildly errant 3-point attempt by JJ Barea allowed the Celtics to get into the “fouling game.” Minnesota played horrendous, in “tough” conditions, and still had a chance to win this game on the road. Plenty of excuses at our disposal for this one.

Those excuses are crap.  Continue Reading…

We went through what the Memphis Grizzlies fans are going through right now. You’re without your best player and other teams are picking on you in the process. This happens because nobody in the NBA cares if you’re injured, sick, or apathetic. Show a weakness and any good team will come through and destroy you because of it. As long as they’re taking you seriously on the court, they’re going to bully you and be mean in every way they can to take advantage of the wounded animal.

It’s survival of the fittest. Sure, you’ll see the occasional team backed into a corner and claw their way out but that fight is only available so many times throughout a season, as we saw with the injured Wolves in 2012-13. Eventually, talent wins out and the injuries become too much to overcome. The Grizzlies don’t have Marc Gasol right now because of an MCL sprain and Quincy Pondexter is out for the rest of the season. That eliminates the best player and probably the best role player the Grizzlies have coming off the bench. They’ve adjusted to put up a decent enough attack, but the Wolves at relative full strength to their core should be able to capitalize and come away with a win.

The problem with Sunday’s game was that the Wolves seemed to play the Grizzlies like the team we’re used to seeing and weren’t able to adjust to their change of style within the game. Whether that’s coaching or executing or both, there was some disconnect that allowed a scrappy team to stay in for pretty much the entire 48 minutes.  Continue Reading…

MiamiHeat

The game between the Miami Heat and the Minnesota Timberwolves last night turned out to be a disaster on the court. We know the drill. Kevin Love missed the game due to the death of his grandmother (our thoughts are with the Love family during this time) and the Wolves tried to piece together an attack against the back-to-back champions that just happen to employ the best player in the world. James did his usual absurdity on the court with 21 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists and 9-of-12 shooting from the field in just 31 minutes. He did have seven turnovers but he was probably just experimenting with certain passing plays during the game, knowing the outcome was already decided.

I didn’t have much to do after the game. The Heat locker room was packed. I watched them eat some kind of pasta dinner, saw Greg Oden try to squeeze through a small locker room, and found out that Chris Andersen allegedly has never paid a cent for his copious amounts of tattoos. I saw Lee Jenkins from Sports Illustrated talking to Shane Battier and got excited about whatever story he’s working on. I wasn’t going to go into the Wolves’ locker room. There’s no point after a game like that when they’re missing their best player.

At a certain point, I hightailed it to The Depot to grab a drink and a bite to eat with Myles Brown, our old friend. When I went home, The Crow was on TV and I started watching the final hour of the movie. In the big shootout scene towards the end, I noticed something ridiculous (you know… outside of the premise that a guitar player was murdered with his fiancé before a crow brings him back to life to avenge the wrong doings).

Check out the shootout scene and let me know if you notice anything strange:

Now, it’s a little hard to tell because of the cutaways but I’m fairly certain that The Crow fellow fires about 28 shots with those two guns. Your standard handgun will hold roughly 16 bullets. Some handguns can hold 20 shots but I’m guessing these lower level villains sitting at the table that don’t have credited character names are rolling with your run of the mill 9mm guns. Your standard six-shooter holds six bullets; that’s why they don’t call them eight-shooters or octo-guns.

When I watched that scene last night, I couldn’t believe how many shots this birdman fired with these two guns. Watching it happen, it just seemed to defy all logic and yet at the same time it made perfect sense. A murdered musician was back for blood and not even getting shot would stop him from getting his revenge. Neither would a seemingly finite amount of bullets in the two firearms he was unloading.

This movie is so weird to watch on a lot of levels. It’s a B-movie quality production in terms of the cast and execution of the acting. It’s really poorly done while the quality of the look and execution of the aesthetics is incredible. Knowing that Brandon Lee was accidentally killed in the process of filming this movie adds another eerie quality to the experience, even nearly 20 years after it came out. It’s odd thinking of the shoddiness of the movie knowing that in one of the flashback scenes filmed near the end of the production, Lee was accidentally killed on set by a gunshot wound.

Watching this movie after Saturday night’s loss, I kept thinking about how weird it is that movies like this just suspend certain levels of reality. I can buy into a guy being brought back to life by a crow. I’ve seen Dr. Doolittle before (that’s what happens, right?). I know it can happen. But watching/hearing the number of shots firing from those two pistols seemed both unnecessary and yet made sense at the exact same time. It made me feel a lot like what I had just seen in the Wolves’ loss to the Heat.

They shot 29.3% in that game. It’s unlikely you’ll beat a team when you shoot under 30% in a game. It’s happened four times since 1985-86, according to basketball-reference. Although one of those did come against the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in 2003. The Wolves just started firing up shots. A lot of shots. Shots that didn’t really make any sense. Shots that seemed like they should be out of ammo and yet they kept slinging them. And when you’re without your best player against the best team in the world (I don’t care what the records are right now), maybe that’s what you have to do. You settle for chaos and home to come out of the rubble with your hand raised high.

It’s not a good strategy. And it’s certainly not the strategy the Wolves tried to employ. However, they took shots and missed them. Just keep firing; eventually you’ll take out the creepy mob guy and avenge your own demise.