Fully healthy, the Timberwolves would still not be as good as the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder have Russell Westbrook back, and he went for 34 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds and could essentially get to the rim whenever he wanted by turning on the jets. The Thunder have eight players 6-10 or taller (if you count Durant, who is at least 6-10); the Wolves have one healthy player over 6-10 (Gorgui Dieng). No surprise, then, that Oklahoma City outrebounded Minnesota 47-30. The expected disparities were there: the Wolves took 7 3-pointers and made just one; the Thunder made 6 and took 23. If the Portland game the other night had everything going against the Blazers and for the Wolves — a genuine outlier — this was much more routine. Continue Reading…
Archives For Kevin Durant
I can’t blame you if you’re hurt. I wouldn’t blame you if you see this game as yet another referendum on this team, on the bench, on Kevin Love, on Kevin Love shaving his beard, on Rick Adelman, on whatever. I’m probably not going to talk you out of anything right now, but please and try to remember: This was an absolutely awesome game of basketball to watch. Continue Reading…
Tickle Me Elmo can go kick rocks. I want a Kevin Durant for Christmas. How do you get one of those? Are they harder to find than a PS4 right now? Does anybody know where I can get a PS4 and a Kevin Durant right now?
I firmly believe Kevin Love is a star in this league and capable of leading a really good team deep into the playoffs. I’m not sure I believe he’s that guy on a true title contender, but Love is certainly good enough to get a team toward the end of the second round. Maybe if you get a road like the Memphis Grizzlies had last year, you could see Love getting a shot in the Western Conference finals in the future with a team like the Wolves have put around him. There are plenty of detractors when it comes to Love as a franchise piece. Personally, I think it’s crazy to look at what he does on a basketball court and say he isn’t a number one guy.
His skill set is sort of unmatched in the NBA. He has a unique blend of finesse and power in his game and we all know he allegedly does the most with the least. He can score inside, outside, midrange, and get his team easy buckets with his passing ability. He’s the top rebounder in the NBA. And the team is actually significantly better defensively with him on the floor this season than when he’s out of the game. Whether that’s by coincidence or production, I’m not sure we have enough evidence to say just quite yet.
However, there are number one players on a franchise team and then there is Kevin Durant. Continue Reading…
It’s kind of the same old story this season, right?
The Wolves are talented enough to stay competitive with just about any team in the NBA, but they’re not healthy enough to overcome the wave of talent, execution, and production that a team like the Oklahoma City Thunder can throw at you. The Wolves need a special set of circumstances to overcome a team like the Thunder. They beat them earlier in the season, but had the luxury of a home environment at their disposal. They also had a balanced attack from a lot of the players, including J.J. Barea going nuts in the fourth quarter of that game.
This time, the bench carried the Wolves when the starters were largely ineffective. The Wolves got 59 points from four bench players, thanks to Barea, Alexey Shved, Dante Cunningham, and Greg Stiemsma stepping up to the challenge. And this was kind of a long time coming from a few of these bench guys. For Alexey, it was the first real good game he’s had since the loss to Memphis. For Stiemer, he hadn’t really produced much since the win over New Orleans. For Dante, it was the first real good game since the loss to Portland.
On a night in which Nikola Pekovic was completely neutralized by the duo of Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka, the Wolves badly needed the bench to step up and keep things close until the starters could find a rhythm. The problem is the Wolves’ starters never found a rhythm. This often leads to the knee-jerk reaction of shuffling deck chairs on a sinking ship, but I like the balance of the Wolves’ rotation based on what is available to Rick Adelman. Continue Reading…
The Timberwolves are professional basketball players; moving on from tough losses is part of the job. The Wolves have four games in the next five days, two of them on the road, three of them against probable playoff teams. They’ll just have to figure it out. Still, its hard for me to imagine how they’ll manage to put this one behind them.
There is the obvious heartbreak of losing despite Kevin Love’s touched performance. There is the reality that four players played at least 44 minutes in a draining, fiercely competitive double-overtime game. And then there is the rather nauseating thought that if the Wolves had made a single play in the last 46 seconds of overtime, they would have won. If they could have rebounded James Harden’s three point miss; if they could have prevented Russ Westbrook from hitting that impossible midrange floater; if Love had not been called for that travel (which call, given the game’s intensity, the paucity of whistles in its last minutes and the relative insignificance of the little foot-shuffle, seems a little petty to me); if Love had switched harder onto Kevin Durant on that tying three; if J.J. Barea had hit that pristinely wide-open jumper at the buzzer…I don’t even want to get into Anthony Tolliver missing that uncontested doorstep layin, down by three with three minutes left in the second overtime. Anybody feel like playing another basketball game against another good team on Sunday?
When the Spurs ground the Wolves into little dusty pieces on Wednesday, I was disappointed but not surprised. The Wolves looked every inch the team laboring through an epic mid-season road trip, missing their starting point guard, starting center and best wing scorer; the Spurs crushed them with superior talent, energy and savvy. Truth be told, I was expecting the same thing on Friday against the Thunder. There was, it seemed to me, very little chance that this undermanned, road-weary crew could make a game of it on the road against the best team in the Western Conference.
And sure enough, there were moments in which the Wolves looked like just another version of their bad, old selves. They were shredded by opposing guards; they made absurd defensive mistakes (ah, two straight goaltends on Kendrick Perkins shots that had very little chance of going in?); during one incredibly annoying stretch of third-quarter, they took, and missed, five consecutive hurried threes. Also, though, they scored 140 points, put on one of the most inspiring displays of resolve and endurance I’ve seen in a while and maybe ought to have won the game. Did I mention how incredibly intense and exciting and exhausting this game was? I’ll have more on this tomorrow when I’m less wiped out, but for now enjoy some grades.
It’s hard to fault Corey Brewer for Kevin Durant’s utterly gonzo 47-point, 18-rebound spectacularium on Wednesday. Brewer ardently chased Durant all over the floor, worming his way around countless screens, recovering quickly to challenge every last shot. But Durant is a phenomenon. He plays a classic shooter’s game, running the baseline, curling off of screens, dropping subtle jab steps and hesitations, raising the ball above his head and calmly flicking his wrist with such miraculous economy that the movement itself is almost impossible to perceive. This would be an apt description of vintage Rip Hamilton except that Rip Hamilton is not 6’9″ with tentacles for arms (and he never was much of a three-point shooter). Brewer was the Wolves best defensive option against KD, and he never had a chance.
Corey’s admirable defensive effort was largely typical of the Wolves’ in this game, as was his solid shooting and tenacity on the boards. Unfortunately, Brewer’s game was typical in other ways too. Along with all of the great and surprising things the Wolves did came some devastating mistakes, some glaring and some subtle.
Kevin Durant’s arms are long. Comically long. No chest, no rib cage, just the gangly, awkward frame befitting a Tim Burton character. All arms. Upon taking the court amongst the chiseled chests and sculpted shoulders of his teammates, an uninformed observer would rightfully presume KD to be the team’s weakest link. “Look at him!” they’d exclaim, “It’s a wonder he can even move without tripping over himself!” Much laughter and mocking would ensue.
This of course would also be the scene where Kevin reveals the talent belied by his physique, carving masterpieces of the competition with an unnatural grace and precision. He’d score in bunches. He’d score from the perimeter, driving to the basket, from the line, fading away and on the occasional slam just for good measure. Having converted his tormentors, their mouths agape in awe, Durant would saunter out of the arena with the same humility with which he arrived, arms dragging behind him all the way.