Archives For Andrei Kirilenko

First of all, his name is Alonzo Gee and he likes to dunk.

Little known fact: The Timberwolves were in Gee’s first NBA team. After going undrafted in the 2009 NBA Draft, Gee was signed by Minnesota on September 24, 2009, then his contract was put on waivers on October 6. It was a brief run that, sadly, did not contain any dunks.

But back to the matter at hand. No one would call this a pretty win, but it was a game in which the Wolves never trailed, and that’s encouraging. After games in which they’ve wilted against teams both superior and inferior, sometimes coming back and other times never climbing out of that hole, the Wolves hung tough even when Cleveland tied the game at 35-35 with 2:12 left in the second quarter. They went on a run to end the first half and kept the lead stable until about halfway through the fourth quarter when they started to push it out and Cleveland seemed to pack it in. It was a slow game, but that’s the way the Wolves have preferred to play this year; they came in under their season average of 93.2 points per game, which is 25th in the league. Continue Reading…

The NBA 3-point line has been around since the 1979-80 NBA season. Even the rule change was supposed to help usher in a new era of basketball from the 1970s to the 1980s, it wasn’t exactly an accepted practice to start chucking 3-pointers like we see teams doing today. Instead, it was a seldom-used arrow in the quiver for most NBA teams.

Because it wasn’t a widely practiced action in the NBA and used more for shooting games after practice than anything else, we saw some hilariously low 3-point production from NBA teams during the first 13 seasons of the 3-point arc. The 1982-83 Los Angeles Lakers have the lowest 3-point percentage in NBA history. They shot just 10.4% from the 3-point line that season. Sounds absurdly low, right? Well, they only took 96 attempts that season and made 10 of them. They also went on to win the Western Conference Finals because they had Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

From the 79-80 season through the 2011-12 season, there have been 171 teams in NBA history who have shot less than 29% from 3-point range in a season. But the problem with this statistic is the 3-pointer wasn’t really a thing until the 1992-93 season. In the first 13 years of the NBA 3-point line, only three teams (88-89 New York Knicks, 90-91 Denver Nuggets, 91-92 Milwaukee Bucks) took more than 1,000 3-point attempts in an NBA season. That total doubled after the Suns, Hawks, and Rockets all attempted over 1,000 3-pointers in the 92-93 season.

In the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, only seven teams DIDN’T attempt at least 1,000 3-pointers.

Why this little bit of 3-point history?  Continue Reading…

As my wife often reminds me, there are a lot of games in an NBA season and truly, this was one of them. I mean, listen: they can’t all be State of the Union-level referendums on the soul of the team. So here’s the game wrap, shorter edition: The Wolves outrebounded the Clippers 52-35 and took 9 more free throws, but shot 27% from the arc, had 10 fewer assists, and let the Clippers score 22 fast break points. Even with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in foul trouble down the stretch and players like Matt Barnes and Ronny Turiaf getting technical fouls, Minnesota couldn’t take control. I guess you could say at least this wasn’t like the games of the 5-game losing streak where they would jump out to a lead only to see it disappear in the third quarter. Although they almost established a double-digit lead in the second, they felt shaky the whole game and that it was even close towards the end is more an indication of the Clippers’ own difficulties than anything else. Continue Reading…

The five-game losing streak is no more. And yes, it was snapped against a team now in sole possession of the worst record in the West and just as prone to meltdowns as the Wolves. But as is often said, you have to win the ones you’re supposed to win, and Minnesota won this game with a combination of activity on offense, Kevin Love getting more integrated into the team, and a healthy dose of the kind of good fortune every team requires. Oh and there was that singularity created by the double foul on DeMarcus Cousins and Love, but more on that later. Continue Reading…

Screen Shot 2012-11-24 at 12.18.54 PM

All of the talk and panic about this team last night seemed to be two-fold:

1) The team is 0-2 since Kevin Love surprised us with an early comeback. Is he hurting their chances of winning?

2) Derrick Williams has had two straight DNP-CDs. HIS CAREER IS OVER.

I feel like this is easily explained, or at least it should be pretty easy. In regards to Love, I really think fantasy basketball and basketball video games have skewed how we judge performance on the court. Numbers and stats mean the world and they exist in a vacuum. Kevin Love had 34 and 14 in his first game back. He had 24 and 13 in the loss to the Blazers last night. Those are good stat lines for any player, so he must have had an enormous impact on the game. And if he didn’t, why can’t he make this team much better when he comes back.  Continue Reading…

Loveback

Good to have you back, sir.

I’m still trying to parse my thoughts on his surprise return and what it means for the team. I think we’re in for some awkwardness over this road stretch. The Wolves will basically have one practice in between about four games. There isn’t a ton of opportunity to get Love and his teammates back on the same page and they’ll all have to re-learn what’s going on in the system. You know, assuming they can run their system. The Wolves are going to be a pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop heavy team until they’re closer to full strength. Love can thrive in this environment but how does everybody else manage to do it?

Kirilenko looked stagnant in the second half of the Nuggets game and the Wolves just can’t have that. He’s a smart player and he’ll quickly learn how work off of Love. But it’s probably more important he figures out how to have a two-man game with Nikola Pekovic while Love is drawing so much attention on the strong side of the ball. A quick reversel to Kirilenko in the high post should allow him enough space to get a quick pass to Pek when he has position.

Until Rubio comes back, we’re going to see a lot of forced offense by everybody on the floor. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing; it just means the games will be a bit harder on offense. The nice thing is the Wolves have enough talent this season to make it work, as long as the defensive effort keeps up.  Continue Reading…

It is a Kirilenko.

Friends, this is a familiar feeling. I’m not talking about losing close games in novel ways although that has been a Timberwolves specialty for years. I’m talking about that moment in which a Wolves season descends into pure, wild, effing absurdity. We’ve learned the hard way that this can happen at any time. It can happen because a team rebels against its coach or because a bad team finally succumbs under the weight of its own soul-sucking badness or, as is currently the case, because a genuinely entertaining and competitive squad has been pulverized by injury. In any case, the fourth quarter of this very strange game was a descent/ascent into a state of wasted, anarcho-schizoid carnival.

Continue Reading…

Adelman

Rick Adelman became a broken record last year. Someone for the Wolves would go down with an injury and he’d start talking about how guys couldn’t feel sorry for themselves and had to step up. They had to make the most of their opportunity to help the team. Ricky Rubio went down with his ACL injury. Kevin Love got a concussion. Nikola Pekovic had bone spurs in his ankle the size of Gibraltar. Pick any of JJ Barea’s 27 injuries from last year.

Guys went down and the Wolves went down with them. Nobody stepped up. Nobody cared. Everybody had the calendar circled for their vacation and not for the playoffs. Once Rubio was gone, the season was lost. Once Love was gone, the season was a joke. Once Pek was gone, it was the same old Wolves again. Adelman begged a set of players without anything close to a guarantee of a future with this organization to show some pride and we only saw it one game, when they finally broke their April losing streak.  Continue Reading…

I needed to wash away the stank the Chicago Bulls defense put on the Minnesota Timberwolves last night so I decided to check out the final moments of the Pacers-Wolves game from Friday night. There were a couple of hilarious things off to the side on George Hill’s step-back 3-pointer to tie the game and Chase Budinger’s game-winning layup.

First, let’s look at the 3-pointer by George Hill. To start out, let’s recognize how dirty this move by Hill is. He pulls the ball back between his legs to get Dante Cunningham off-balance, then starts moving forward again before he steps back about two feet to shoot a game-tying 3. That’s just unfair. Dante played that possession extremely well and still ended up looking bad. Somehow, George Hill’s ACLs remain intact too.

But something funny happened on the play. Check out the video and notice the spotlight of Lance Stephenson on the bench:

For some reason, Stephenson tripping over the feet of teammate Jeff Pendergraph and then seeing Frank Vogel look down on him, probably wondering what the hell he was doing on the ground just killed me. I’ve watched this sequence maybe 15 times today and can’t stop laughing about it.

Secondly, let’s look at the game-winning play by Andrei Kirilenko and Chase Budinger. The patience of AK47 was fantastic and the coincidentally heady play of Chase to crash the boards on an assumed shot, only to find himself wide-open for a pass was just fun to witness. Check out Hill’s reaction to the play in real time though. It’s not even over yet and he can’t believe what happened.

We all knew Gerald Green was hilariously asleep on the play and lost where Chase was. But I didn’t notice Hill wondering what the hell Green was doing before the game-winner had even left Chase’s hands. Again, watching this a bunch of times today left me laughing at the final moments of an awesome game.

I’m sure I wouldn’t be as entertained by it if the roles were reversed and the Wolves lost that game, but alas, we have the good fortune of getting to laugh about a great win for the team.

Now let’s never speak of the Bulls’ game again. Stupid Nate Robinson…

This was the first real test of the Wolves’ banged up season.

Yes, the Brooklyn game was fun and the Pacers were a really good measuring stick for whether or not this team could execute against one of the better defenses in the league. Not nobody know defense like the Bulls know defense. There are defensive systems and units in the NBA that can bully you and take away key components of the game for your offense. And then there’s the Chicago Bulls defense.

You have a slight chance against the Bulls, offensively. They’re going to give you jumpers, and some of those will be open. But like a pack of wild dogs in a Snausage factory, they’re going to be swarming you. They contest nearly everything and any time you get an open look against them, you have to make them pay. If you don’t, you’re wasting a modicum of good scoring opportunities. The way they pressure you is impressive.  Continue Reading…