Who knows if this is a Cedric Ceballos type of blindfold attempt or if he actually can’t see, but either way knocking down 3-pointers with cloth covering your eyes is still impressive.

Kevin Love promoting the All-Star Game in this way is pretty awesome. Let’s get him back into the 3-point contest so he can reclaim his crown.

Pek Goes Too

Steve McPherson —  January 30, 2014 — 2 Comments

I don’t want to alarm you, but the video they played at the Target Center last night as part of the campaign to get Nikola Pekovic to the All-Star Game is now up on YouTube:

It’s sweet, really, and totally impossible, but kudos to their media team for putting it together. Maybe they should have been drafting all those years instead of the President of Basketball Operations?

And also props to them for doing the right thing and giving Maddison Bond credit for the awesome artwork of Nikola Pekovic after it was brought to their attention during the game last night.

Narcissus

The myth of Narcissus concerns an impossibly beautiful young hunter who comes upon a pool of water in the forest and falls in love with his own reflection. Depending on the particular version of the story, Narcissus then commits suicide because he cannot possess his beloved, or maybe starves to death looking at his own image, or misses the playoffs. Basically, if Rick Adelman stumbled upon this youth in the woods entranced by his own image, he’d probably inform him that he hasn’t done anything yet.
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LoveMath

There was a point early on in the Wolves’ win over the Chicago Bulls in which Kevin Love was struggling. He wasn’t playing poorly but he was having trouble finding his way to the free throw line against Taj Gibson and Nazr Mohammed. The struggles against Taj Gibson aren’t anything new for Love, or anybody around the league really. Gibson is one of the top defensive players in the NBA and rarely gets his national due because he’s a role player off the bench.

Taj is familiar with Love’s game too. They’ve played against each other on every level of play — high school, college, and in the NBA. Along with his defensive prowess, his familiarity with Love may be a big reason he’s had such great success defending the Wolves’ big man throughout their respective careers. Before Monday night, Love was 0-5 against Gibson at the NBA level. Love’s had three pretty awful games against the Bulls in this time, one decent game, and one Kevin Love game.

Overall, he was shooting 40% in these match-ups and attempted just 19 free throws in five losses. The Bulls have been a great defensive team during this run (analysis!) and part of the reason they’re so good is they know the angles to take, when to take them, and use their incredible frontcourt to slow guys down. Even Carlos Boozer is a plus-defender in Tom Thibodeau’s system, or at least enough of a plus-defender to hold the fort as Joakim Noah and Gibson protect his back.

So what changed for Love during Monday’s game to finally give him a big advantage against Gibson, Boozer, and Thibodeau’s system?  Continue Reading…

Nikola-Pekovic-doesnt-have-crawling-down-just-yet-but-hell-get-there.-Jordan-Johnson-NBAE-Getty-Images

As you may have heard, an MRI on Nikola Pekovic’s right ankle revealed bursitis, which will sideline him for at least 7-10 days. In case you’re curious, bursitis is swelling in the bursa (fluid-filled sac), in this case the bursa in Pek’s ankle that helps ease friction and rubbing between things like bones and tendons. WebMD says overuse can increase the risk of bursitis, and that includes high-risk activities like gardening, carpentry and — presumably — jumping and banging into 250 to 300 lb men on a semi-nightly basis. Continue Reading…

Before you do anything, take a moment to enjoy Ricky Rubio’s 60 foot alley-oop to Corey Brewer. Go ahead. Admire it.

RickyRubio60FtAlleyOopBrewer

 

C.J. Fogler, who spends his time doing the Lord’s work on Twitter (he’s a must-follow for any Timberwolves fan), also gave us a slow-mo version for our viewing pleasure, via YouTube:

Why open with this? Because it was beautiful, and because Ricky Rubio was the best thing about this Timberwolves’ loss. This spectacular first half play aside, what was really encouraging was the way he attacked throughout the game. There was also a seven minute stretch to open the second half – during which time the Wolves erased an eight point halftime deficit – where Ricky repeatedly ran pick and rolls to perfection, deftly dropping passes through defenders to Nikola Pekovic for easy dunks. Continue Reading…

It was easy to say that the Wolves’ horrifying struggles in close games were a statistical anomaly. In the abstract, we always knew that a few lucky bounces were all that separated the Wolves from a record more befitting their point differential. (Seriously, how strange is it that for all of this team’s problems, they could easily be sitting in the fifth or sixth seed right now?) But after seeing how this team has performed in close games it became much harder to imagine how they would actually manage to win one. This wasn’t just bad luck; there are actual reasons that the Wolves have been so bad in late-game situations. They are short on shooters, which allows teams to trap ballhandlers and collapse into the paint. Their offense relies on getting to the free-throw line and refs tend to swallow their whistles late in games. They are given to moments of insane decision-making.  They are simply inconsistent in their execution on both ends of the floor.

It’s not as if any of these things changed on Friday evening in Oakland. In the final three minutes of this impossibly close game, the Wolves did the following: committed a turnover on an entry pass; nearly committed a shot-clock violation; missed a wide-open three; fouled a three-point shooter; committed a foul in the backcourt, up one with 30 seconds to go while in the penalty.

But, somehow, they made just enough plays to win the game, and a road game against a playoff team at that. Ricky Rubio made a midrange jumper after Love fought through a triple team to shovel him the ball. Brewer hit an incredibly cold-blooded, contested corner three. They were able to get the ball out of Stephen Curry’s hands on the final key possessions. Finally, Kevin Martin hit a clutch, last-second jumper, the first such shot for the Wolves, really, since the season’s first game. Make no mistake: this was a huge win for the Wolves and, at the risk of undue optimism, one that could set them on a new path.

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Kevin Martin

Despite scoring 105.1 points per 100 possessions, the 10th-best mark in the NBA, and despite the dominance of Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic (especially recently) on that end of the floor, it’s easy to spot flaws in Minnesota’s offensive attack. Rick Adelman’s bunch currently ranks 25th in effective field goal percentage (47.9%) and 23rd in three-point shooting (34.7%). Their reliance on getting to the free throw line (only Houston and the Clippers get there more often) is an adequate staple to the Wolves’ offensive diet, but the paradox is still unnerving. The Timberwolves have a moderately successful offense, but are bad at making shots. How can that be? Continue Reading…

Passing-drills.-Screencap-via-ROOT-Sports

Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” So it goes with basketball as well. The search this season for some kind of overarching sense to the Minnesota Timberwolves has so far been fruitless. They have destroyed teams, have eaten them whole, bones and all. Ten times so far this season they have led the other team by 30 or more points (and led the Jazz by 26 in last night’s game). The next closest team to that is San Antonio, who have done it six times, or just over half as many times.

And then, of course, there’s the flipside of that, where they are (say it with me) 0-11 in games decided by four points or less. Trying to reconcile these two things leads to a lot of furious narrative building: they don’t beat the teams they’re supposed to beat; they only beat bad teams; they need to execute down the stretch; they’re fundamentally flawed; it’s all on Ricky Rubio’s shooting; it’s all on Kevin Love’s defense; it’s all on Rick Adelman’s age; it’s all on the bench. Continue Reading…

Love and Martin

Sports, like life, are full of trite turns of phrase and overused cliches. It’s possible to conduct entire interviews (while covering a player or team) as well as have entire conversations (in real life situations) without saying much of anything at all, other than tired, recycled jargon. If you’ve spent any time watching postgame press conferences, or if you’ve ever been stuck talking to someone you have no interest in conversing with, you know the drill. The great baseball flick Bull Durham devotes an entire scene to how important cliches are to professional athletes: Continue Reading…