Archives For Game Analysis

JohnWallIsTheOneWhoKnocks

This game wasn’t as close as the score would imply. However, it was pretty close at various times throughout the night, which makes it a bit confusing as a whole. About six or so minutes into the game, it seemed like I was going to have to find a blowout recap topic for tonight’s game and I even crowd-sourced for a few ideas. John Wall was picking apart the Wolves and we had several instances of big men not getting back on defense.

There were multiple plays in the first couple of minutes in which Thaddeus Young and Gorgui Dieng were slow to either get back in transition, only to get beaten down the floor by Marcin Gortat and Kris Humphries, or to locate their defensive assignment once they did get back. You don’t give space to John Wall’s passing targets and win to talk about it. He’s too good at this stage in his career and as the Wolves found out a few times, you can’t just play 10 feet off of him and expect him to Kemba Walker that jump shot. His game doesn’t break like that anymore.

Since this was a blowout that wasn’t a blowout, let’s actually recap instead of me just rambling for 1,400 words about Pauly D from Jersey Shore or something along those lines.  Continue Reading…

KobeToWiggins

While Kobe Bryant can elicit some pretty polarized takes on how great he is or isn’t, how nice he is or isn’t, how good of a leader/teammate that he is or isn’t, and everything else involved with historic players, what you can’t deny is his psychotic, competitive nature that has fueled one of the greatest careers you could ever imagine. To be completely honest with everybody, I was beyond jealous that I wasn’t in the Target Center Sunday night when Kobe passed Michael Jordan for third on the all-time scoring list. Sure, it’s come in what will essentially be a lost/wasted season for Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers, but history is history, and the Target Center saw something no other building will ever see — Kobe passing Jordan on the all-time scoring list.

The game was another injury-riddled loss by the Wolves, desperate for the direction of a point guard with a little bit of a veteran touch at his disposal. But there were aspects to this game that were fascinating. Mostly, they resided around the burning desire of Kobe to kill the defender in front of him, despite the Hall of Famer being at the end of his rope athletically (relatively speaking, of course). 36-year old Kobe Bryant plays a megalomaniacal brand of basketball. It’s both an inspiration to those that have come after him and a cautionary tale of finding the right balance between hubris and a pathos of sorts. That’s not a knock on Bryant either. If anything, it’s a compliment about a player that by all historical measurements shouldn’t be able to do what he does anymore.

Kobe is the league’s third leading scorer after 1,269 games, 18-plus years, and over 46,000 minutes in the NBA. That just doesn’t happen. The retort is about how he’s shooting under 40.0% from the field while hoisting all of these shots that allow him to be the scoring leader. And it’s completely correct. He’s allowed to play a certain way that almost no other player has ever been afforded at this point in their careers. To me, that’s why it’s so impressive and it’s a blueprint for competitiveness that I pray someone on the Wolves picks up. I’ll explain:  Continue Reading…

“This ain’t reality TV!”

That’s one of the big lines from the movie The Departed, delivered by Jack Nicholson in a bizarre role that both fits, doesn’t fit, and falls everywhere in between. It comes during a scene in which (SPOILER ALERT) the tension surrounding a Boston crime boss, an undercover cop, and a bunch of lackeys has built to an uncomfortable level. The undercover cop (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is on the verge of being found out and murdered by the crime boss (played by Nicholson). DiCaprio’s character just watched a fellow henchman die when Leo was close to getting busted and soon after the death, DiCaprio, Nicholson, and several henchmen watch a news report revealing that the body had been found and the deceased had been identified as an undercover police officer.

The henchman responsible for burying the dead body is wondering how the police found the body so quickly, and Nicholson is furious at everything going on as his empire is starting to unravel. As Nicholson berates him for not doing his job properly, the henchman laughs at the colorful analogy Jack offers up for where the body was dumped. The laughter adds to the vitriol and frustration suffocating Nicholson and he screams:

“Don’t laugh! This ain’t reality TV!” Continue Reading…

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

This was a weird game. It was a fun game. It was a game that showed just exactly where the Minnesota Timberwolves need to be this season while seeing just how dire things are for the Los Angeles Lakers. In a 120-119 win over the Lakers, we saw just how horrendous the Lakers can be and how energizing and cathartic their defense can be for struggling opponents. And that’s what the Wolves have been since Ricky Rubio went down with his ankle injury — they’ve been struggling.

It’s probably why the Lakers felt like they’d get an easy victory at home against the Wolves. This is a Wolves team missing three starters and three important starters at that. We all know how important Rubio is and have seen that night in and night out since his injury. Nikola Pekovic is the type of post scorer that can make a frontcourt like the Lakers’ feel like quitting basketball with his punishing post play. And Kevin Martin can torch Kobe Bryant at this stage in their respective careers just as easily as Kobe can torch Martin. It’s all about putting pressure on an embarrassing defensive effort that looks to be historically poor.

You mostly hurt the Lakers’ offense in two ways: Continue Reading…

(via Getty)

(via Getty)

I don’t know how many of you watch the show “Sons of Anarchy” but I’ve been fascinated by the character Juice Ortiz [probably some spoilers in this but I haven’t written it so I’m not positive]. Other than Opie, who was my favorite character on this show, Juice has kept my attention throughout the duration of this series. I’ve been completely enthralled with overall story arcs on this show and I’ve been checked out on plenty of story arcs over the course of the seven seasons. Characters have lost me left and right.

I’ve never been all that in to Jax’s character, even though early on in the show he was like a young lion trying to figure out how to rule the jungle. Once he broke through to the leadership role and started his family with Tara, his struggle just didn’t grab me at all. The story arc of Gemma has always been boring. She’s an awful, power-hungry matriarch who will do anything to protect her family. The secret though is the family she’s protecting isn’t her actual family but the mythical family of controlling the club like she’s done for decades. It’s the same cycle every season with just new dastardly ways in which her subversive nature breaks through. Yawn.

And while I love Bobby, Tig, Happy, Chibs, Piney, and Clay [he would rank third in my character rankings], only Opie has been able to surpass my fascination with Juice. The Juice storyline has given his character the most depth on the show and we’ve seen the most range from this actor (Theo Rossi) in portraying that character. While I want to see the finality of the close of this series, I probably would have ejected shortly after Opie’s exit from the show had Juice not been so compelling.  Continue Reading…

LivingLaVineaLoca

In two weeks, the Minnesota Timberwolves will reevaluate Ricky Rubio’s ankle. He’ll be on crutches during that time and then we’ll see how the swelling and ligaments are progressing. Optimistically, I’d say the Wolves are looking at a four-week recovery overall for the significant/high ankle sprain, and six weeks may even be the more likely scenario. That’s simply a guess based on covering injuries like this and talking to a couple of people who are smarter about it than I am.

In the next 4-8 weeks, or however long Rubio is sidelined, Zach LaVine will likely be the starting point guard. Flip Saunders is wary about playing Mo Williams more than 25 minutes a game due to advanced age in the NBA and not wanting to wear him down. When the Wolves made the decision to keep Glenn Robinson III over J.J. Barea, they knew the risk of injury at the point guard could thrust them into a situation like this. And it’s a great chance at developing LaVine in a way they probably didn’t believe was a likely scenario. Saturday night against the Heat, we saw a lot of what the process should and likely will look like during Rubio’s down time.  Continue Reading…

GorguiAward

Somewhere in the story of this late-season road loss to the Sacramento Kings is the story line to the Minnesota Timberwolves’ season.

The story lines of this Wolves’ season have been fascinating. They’re constantly evolving and being forgotten as something new to focus on comes along. And yet, as the story lines change, they’re largely telling the same tale. This is a weirdly good team that finds ways to not have consistent success. And that in fact makes people think this team is bad, even though they’re really not. They’re neither bad nor good. They excel and fail at the same time. They’re basically a neutral team, which in the Western Conference is considered a bad team.

But mostly it’s just not good enough. The viewpoints on the Wolves are ultimately contradictory because they force the narrative to play this way. One day the team makes sense; the next day it doesn’t. Blame coaching. Blame a lack of leadership amongst the players in the locker room. Blame B. Wright for screaming at fans to kiss and then pretending they’ve gone too far as he’s plugging quarters to keep the screen up.

Regardless of what you want to believe about this team, there are days when you’re vindicated for your opinion and days in which this team will vilify you for thinking such things. The revisionist history with this team is every evolving and always fascinating. Continue Reading…

AggressiveRubio

The Minnesota Timberwolves lost a random game on a back-to-back against a team that is much better than them, even with big injuries to their core. This is not new, nor is it really shocking at all. A night after the Wolves inexplicably blew out the San Antonio Spurs the night before and William Bohl tried to murder the idea of the culinary arts, the Wolves just didn’t have it for a full 48 minutes against the Chicago Bulls. Joakim Noah and the defense was simply too much for the Wolves and they got handled in the second half.

C’est la vie.

But once again at the end of a dead season, Ricky Rubio was extremely aggressive with his shot selection, especially early. He’s taken a lot more shots since the season was ended for the Wolves and even though he’s been historically bad as a shot-maker, I think I’m on board with an aggressive Rubio because it seems to get him going in games and give the defense something else to worry about. Let’s discuss, shall we?  Continue Reading…

RonnyTime

You know that friend every group seems to have with the infectious existence?

It doesn’t matter what is going on with the group, if that person has an energy about them, it will emanate to everybody else and they’ll adapt to fit said energy. If that infectious friend smiles, everybody around them smiles. If that person belts out a big laugh, everybody starts laughing along. If that person wants to rob a bank, everybody gets their ski masks and starts looking for escape routes.

If Ronny Turiaf wanted to rob a bank last night, there would have been 12,009 people behind him looking up the schematics of the banks and determining how much time they had to raid the main vault. You always have to get out of there in under 90 seconds. That’s just standard operating procedure. After about six weeks off due to a scary knee injury that was diagnosed as a bone bruise, Turiaf made his return to the second unit Wednesday night and helped keep the spark alive with a team that had pride and effort questions floating around it lately.  Continue Reading…

LoveBallad

After the Wolves lost at home to the a struggling New York Knicks team (which apparently was about to start finally fighting for their playoff lives), I have to admit I mentally checked out for the season.

I’m not one to really overreact to a win or loss. I try to stay even-keeled for the most part because the process of the season has so many peaks and valleys that it will drive you crazy if you get too frustrated or too high from the losses and wins. Plus, I’m a big believer in you don’t really know the whole scope of what you’re looking at until you can reflect back on the season in its entirety and figure out what exactly happened. Until then, it’s a lot of guesswork, which can be fine but it leads to frustration with a team like this.

The alternative though is you can get sucked into shutting down mentally and emotionally with the team. You check out and that’s where I was when the loss to the Knicks happened. Since then, I’ve been mostly unaffected by the wins and losses, just focusing on the individual play of some to get me through the end of the season. I’ve hoped for a .500 record and for the Wolves to keep their pick, and they’re currently on pace for that.

And the rest, I’ve become pretty numb to, which brings us to Kevin Love.  Continue Reading…