Archives For Gorgui Dieng

Ricky Rubio Kick

 

infiltrate, verb: enter or gain access to (an organization, place, etc.) surreptitiously and gradually, especially in order to acquire secret information.

Wednesday night’s victory over the Atlanta Hawks brought the Timberwolves back to .500, at 35-35, with 12 games to go. I’ve recapped approximately a third of those games, and so far, I’ve resisted the urge to do any meta-writing, or writing about writing, and also I’ve refrained from submitting a game recap that’s about ancillary things (like the curiosities of venturing into an NBA locker room, or missing out on halftime refreshments because some local media members are no-account gluttons). Instead, I like to focus on the games, themselves, diving into their intricacies, (hopefully) illuminating something about it you might have missed, attempting to put the events into their proper context.

Tonight, I’m going to do something a little different. This late in the season, it’s time to try new things. It might go well, like a late-season audition that garners a pay bump, or it might go poorly, like Mark Madsen jacking up three-pointers. NBA seasons are incredibly long; strange things begin to happen as they wind down. People start doing things they aren’t supposed to do; they infiltrate areas of the arena or the court no one expected them to. Continue Reading…

LoveContest

We’ve been here before, hoping for competitive losses.

I should clarify. I’ve certainly been here before. I can’t assume you guys are necessarily there with me and based on the frustration flowing through my Twitter feed and some of the local media on Sunday, I might be mostly alone on this one for now. That’s probably the case because this is the latest in a season the Wolves have been competitive in about a decade. It’s also probably because the expectations heading into this season were competing for the playoffs. With roughly three weeks left, it would take two monumental collapses and the Wolves not collapsing to make that a reality.

Because of the draft pick implications heading into the game against the Phoenix Suns, my hopes for the game were for it to be extremely competitive and for the Wolves to protect their draft pick lives. Losing to the Suns was going to all but guarantee they keep the pick, assuming the Suns don’t come through on the 1.8% chance of landing a top 3 pick on the night of the lottery (that’s also assuming they don’t make the playoffs). The Suns making the playoffs altogether would actually be ideal because the Wolves would almost certainly keep the pick.

What I wanted out of Sunday’s game happened.  Continue Reading…

RickyBuckets2

I’m not going to be unrealistic here. That was a bit flukey.

Ricky Rubio became the new Ricky Buckets, if only for a night, and it was largely due to a pretty mediocre at best Dallas Mavericks’ defense. I don’t know why Jose Calderon was pressuring Rubio when he had the ball 30 feet from the basket. I don’t know why Calderon lets guys turn the corner on him with such little resistance. I don’t know why Samuel Dalembert wears cement shoes. I don’t know why Monta Ellis plays horrendous defense and then pretends it’s the refs’ fault. Whatever the answers to those issues are, Rubio did arguably the best job attacking a defense I’ve ever seen.

And while I’m going to be realistic about a game like this and note its flukey nature like I did above, it’s not going to stop be from enjoying the hell out of this performance. 22 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds, and four steals with 8/12 shooting from the field and 7/9 in the restricted area.  Continue Reading…

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…

ShabazzShaback

After a successful four-game stretch with the Iowa Energy of the D-League, Shabazz Muhammad has been recalled by the Minnesota Timberwolves to rejoin the team this week. Muhammad showed off that ability to score which made him such a top prospect coming out of high school and did a great job of hitting the rebounds in his four games. He tallied 98 points and 39 rebounds in his four games, shot nearly eight free throws per game, and had seven assists (!!) and just five turnovers.

Here’s the release from the Wolves about the recall and my thoughts on the experience below:  Continue Reading…

The thud you heard at the 10:17 mark of the second quarter in Friday night’s blowout victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder was Ronny Turiaf fracturing the radial head of his right elbow. When a missed Jeremy Lamb missed a push shot in the lane and Ronny Turiaf went up for the rebound, Nick Collison came crashing in to keep the possession for OKC alive. Unfortunately, he crashed Turiaf more than he crashed the offensive glass and it resulted in a tough injury for the Wolves’ backup center.

Here’s the statement from the team regarding the injury:  Continue Reading…

This move Kevin Love worked on in the offseason isn't great. (Getty)

This move Kevin Love worked on in the offseason isn’t great. (Getty)

I tried. I really tried to churn out some thoughts on the Wolves losing to CSKA Moscow on Monday night and just nothing appeared. The effort was there for me trying to write about what was an on-the-surface embarrassing loss to a really talented Euroleague team. But ultimately, I just didn’t care enough about the result or what we saw on the court from a team standpoint.

And really, that was the problem with the Wolves in that game as well. I’m not sure they cared enough about their opponent throughout the 53 minutes of action to really want to do what they were supposed to do. There were individual players like Derrick Williams, Othyus Jeffers, A.J. Price, and Ronny Turiaf that appeared to give a damn. They fought through as much as they could against CSKA Moscow and nearly walked away with a victory. But there were too many mental mistakes, too many lazy offensive sets, too many poor defensive rotations throughout the game to end up defeating a quality opponent.

Make no mistake about it either; CSKA Moscow was a quality opponent. They have six guys (seven if Sonny Weems is playing) that can play in the NBA right now. The rest of their team is full of solid players as well. It’s an opponent that even the third string of the Wolves should be able to close out, but you have to have a full game of effort in order to do that. The Wolves didn’t have that and it showed both in their play and in the way Rick Adelman discussed the game afterward.

That wasn’t the case Wednesday night against the Toronto Raptors.  Continue Reading…

Wolves and friends

Media got let into the gym with about 15-20 minutes left in a scrimmage between the A Team (no Mr. T) and the B Team. As I sat down, someone who was already in the gym leaned over to me and said, “By the way, that score is not a scoreboard malfunction.”

The B Team was wiping the floor with the A Team. They were up 20 points on them. By the time the clock on the scrimmage had run out, the final score was the B Team winning by 12 but even some late execution by the A Team wasn’t nearly enough to erase a deficit. There’s some good and some bad in the “other players” pushing the “main players” so much. It’s good to see adversity, no matter how irrelevant it might be a couple weeks from now, for the main unit of guys who should be dominating these scrimmage based on talent. To see how they respond in Day 3 of training camp will be very interesting.

“Well, I think all of our young guys are playing really hard,” Rick Adelman said after practice on Wednesday. “They just kicked the tails of our nine guys who are going to play a lot. They got killed in the first quarter against our young guys because they played their tails off.”

Guys like Lorenzo Brown, Dante Cunningham, Othyus Jeffers, Chris Johnson, and Shabazz Muhammad were scrambling all over the court, swiping down in the post, and causing the kind of havoc you’d hope from a second unit. They were catching the Wolves’ top guys off guard with offensive rebounding, lob plays, and just executing the basics on both ends of the floor. You saw the usual frustration out of guys like Kevin Love and J.J. Barea, who took a couple of chances to plead to the referees that they needed to call certain things.

Thursday, the Wolves’ starters will have a chance to take it out on the young guys. Here’s a look at a couple of notes I took while watching the scrimmage moments I got to see: Continue Reading…

Brew

Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer, Kevin Love, and Nikola Pekovic were sporting the white side of the practice jerseys against a team of J.J. Barea, Alexey Shved, Robbie Hummel, Derrick Williams, and Dante Cunningham.

As media availability for the first practice of training camp began, the likely starting lineup for the Wolves to begin the regular season was actually losing to a second unit by a few points. With Jack Sikma reminding Nikola Pekovic that he was going to have to leave the key some time on offense to avoid a violation, the starting Wolves set up their offense. There was some motion across the lane and Pek found himself defended on the block by Cunningham. Because of his strength and size advantages, Pek had deep post position as he received the post-entry pass from Brewer. Immediately, Williams dropped down from the wing to double up on Pek.

Pekovic absorbed the double-team’s attention, kicked it right back out to Brewer, who was waiting on the left win above the break, and the Wolves had a spot-up 3-point attempt rip through the net. This was the first bit of training camp action that I got to see from the Wolves and it nearly knocked me deeper into my seat. Healthy players. Kick-out passes to shooters that resulted in points. This seemed like a pretty cool way to kill some time in Mankato Tuesday afternoon.  Continue Reading…

BareaInquisitive

With a couple days until the Minnesota Timberwolves kick off their 2013 Media Day and officially get going on starting the new season, we’re still finding things to pass the time. Some people may be doing it with Grand Theft Auto V or even by reading my Rabbit Hole posts on CBSSports.com (shameless plug!). Some people are wrapped up in the NFL season and the close of the baseball season. And some of us are ranking players on various platforms.

ESPN.com is pumping out the NBARank project right now with more than 100 bloggers, writers, and media pundits giving each player a score on a scale of 1 to 10. Then those scores are averaged out for each player and that’s how we get their rank. There are 500 players ranked each season and it gives an interesting look into how the collective can come to certain conclusions about every player around the league. It doesn’t make the rankings definitive by any means but it certainly gives you a good idea of how the basketball coverage community views the players.

NBARank is past the halfway point in the rankings, so I thought it might be a good idea to check out which Wolves players fell from 190-500. Again, these rankings are not definitive and you’ll find that some players just don’t get paid attention to by the collective, leading to a ranking that is often too low for some guys. But this will kill some time so let’s check out some of the Wolves players.  Continue Reading…