Archives For Kevin Love

 SunsWolves

Note: The title of this post should not be construed as a statement that it’s time to blow up the team. Just read this poem by Jack Gilbert called “Tear It Down.”

Man, what happened? I mean, let’s be honest: The Wolves — in spite of getting Ronny Turiaf and Chase Budinger back, in spite of being on their home court, in spite of facing a team playing on the second night of a back-to-back after losing in Chicago and only two games into a five-game road trip, and at the beginning of a long road trip — never grabbed this one away from the Phoenix Suns. Their biggest lead? Nine points, while the Suns’ biggest lead was eight.

On the macro level, it begins with poor shooting. The Wolves’ three main scoring options — Kevin Martin, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic — ended the night just 16-52. Love was 4-20 and though Pek got it going a bit in the third quarter, he was 1-8 in the first half. Kevin Martin started torchingly, scoring 7 points in the first 2:11 of the game, a pace that would have yielded roughly 168 points, had he kept it up. Sadly, he did not. Continue Reading…

Thunder

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…

As we speak, the Wolves are sitting at 16-16, three games out of the eighth spot in in the Western Conference. For many of us, this comes as a great disappointment, especially after the team’s strong start. This was supposed to be the year that the Wolves finally fulfilled those years of deferred promises (deferred by injury, by the vicissitudes of foreign contract buyouts, by drafting Wes Johnson). It doesn’t seem to make sense. The Wolves have added Kevin Martin, the perimeter scorer they’d always craved. Nikola Pekovic is learning how to dominate games in the paint. Kevin Love is having a near-MVP season. Most importantly, thanks to the relative paucity of injuries (knocking so hard on basically anything that even remotely resembles wood) all of the Wolves’ principals are able to share the floor (at the same time!).

So what’s happening here? There have been many explanations offered, most of them containing a large grain of truth. Up until just this past week, the Wolves’ schedule had been a gauntlet of road games, back-to-backs and elite teams. Their half-court defense has been inconsistent, their transition D abysmal. Their late-game execution has been awful, accounting for their 0-8 record in games decided by fewer than five points. Their bench has been among the league’s worst.

Continue Reading…

WolvesBench

After contributing a paltry five points — a total so low that MLA style would ask you to please write it out rather than use numerals — in Monday night’s difficult loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the Timberwolves’ bench came startlingly to life against the New Orleans Pelicans, pouring in 42 points with double-digit totals for J.J. Barea, Alexey Shved and Dante Cunningham. With media crushed around him after the game, Love praised the bench he had called out on Monday night.

“Nobody’s ever going to like [getting called out],” he said. “But it wasn’t me being down on them. It’s just me asking for more because we’re going to need them in 2014. What are we, 16-16 now? They’re going to have to help us if we want to win. It was just a challenge more than anything. I wasn’t mad at them, I wasn’t saying they were bad. It was just tough love and sometimes that’s the best way to do things.” Continue Reading…

Love Splits

You can make the argument that “quarters” are arbitrary segments in a basketball game, and that statistics broken down according to neat, rigid quadrants of time should be approached with caution. Sure, how a team performs late in the 4th quarter tells you important things about their execution and ability to make clutch shots; but truth be told, pockets of production or stagnation don’t necessarily coincide with quarterly breaks. Reality is messier, due to staggered rotations, bursts of energy, random factors, and in-game adjustments by coaching staffs.

On the other hand, an NBA game is 48 minutes long, there are four 12 minute quarters, and it can be kind of fun to play around with splits, even if they can be problematic. Minnesota’s 22-point victory over Milwaukee on Saturday night featured a roughly competitive first half, followed by the Timberwolves trucking the poor Bucks in the third quarter, and concluded with a fourth quarter than was damn near unwatchable. Continue Reading…

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This was a game that could best be described as a fever dream, a disorienting mix of lightheadedness, unreasonable giddiness and unmoored feelings of unease. In spite of all that, this is more or less the house where Wolves fans should reasonably expect to live. Most of the things that are supposed to happen did: a stuffed stat sheet from Kevin Love, Brobdingnagian numbers from the Brobdingnagian Nikola Pekovic, effective and efficient scoring from Kevin Martin. Oh and Ricky Rubio did this, stirring feelings of pure joy that don’t seem to happen as often as they once did with him:

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This game had a lot of beautiful basketball. Midway through the third it erupted into play after play of move and countermove and this, honestly, should be what every basketball fan hopes the game can aspire to. Look at this layup by Kawhi Leonard:

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LOOK AT IT! Continue Reading…

Outlets

Following the Wolves’ November 1st victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, our own Benjamin Polk asked Kevin Love about facilitating the offense from the elbow. In response, Love revealed one of the expectations that was placed on him coming into the season. In the matter-of-fact delivery that’s become his modus operandi in post-game interviews, Love said, ”Coach wants my assist numbers to be up.” Thus far in the 2013-14 campaign, the 25-year-old superstar has obliged.

Racking up assists at nearly double his career rate (4.1 per game this year, 2.1 per game overall), Love’s relishing the opportunity to play with the most talented roster he’s been a part of since he arrived in Minnesota. The Timberwolves boast the 12th-rated offense in the league (in terms of points per possession) and are 8th in the NBA in net differential; despite their brutal early season schedule and tough luck, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic in Minnesota – especially on the offensive end. Continue Reading…

Kevin Love

Being a fan of the Minnesota Twins in the 2000s was a mostly pleasurable experience – they won five division titles, averaged 89 victories per season, appeared in two do-or-die Game 163s, and carved a unique, endearing identity (the piranhas) that made them easy to love. The problem, of course, was their lack of postseason success – a combined 6-21 record in the playoffs, capped off by two consecutive three game sweeps at the hands of the New York Yankees. They never seemed hellbent on going for it, trading prospects or young talent for that veteran pitcher or power bat that may have pushed them over the edge in October. It was their organizational philosophy to build for the future, even when they were on the cusp of winning in the present.

Why open a recap of a 2013 Timberwolves-Nets game with anecdotes about the mid-2000s Twins? Because last offseason, the Wolves and Nets resolved to do the opposite of what the Twins did for all those years. They looked themselves in the mirror, weighed the options, and decided, “You know what? F*** it. Let’s go for it.” Jaded by my disappointment in the Twins, I have a soft spot for franchises that decide to push their chips to the center of the table, because the goal is to win a title, not merely subsist year-to-year on future assets that may not pan out. Continue Reading…

Over the years, most Timberwolves fans have had their share of moral victories, and most have likely grown sick of them. If you’ve been a fan for more than this season, you know what I’m talking about: although the team loses, they keep it close, or maybe at least show some teeth somewhere in there. But any long-suffering fan is ready for moral victories to be replaced by actual ones, and now that the team is actually winning games they’re supposed to win and looking pretty damn strong — both on offense, where they’re second in pace, and defense, with the league’s sixth best defensive rating at 98.1 — maybe we can begin to accept that there are ways to be successful without necessarily winning, and not feel like we’re just trying to talk ourselves into it.

Last night’s close loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, which came down to three opportunities to score on the final possession and a Kevin Love tip-in that came up just short, showed us a lot. On a basic level, it reinforced something we already know: the Timberwolves bench is in trouble. But even this is interesting because the bench seems to be poorly understood by a lot of people. Almost by definition, your bench is going to be flawed in some ways — if the players there were closer to flawless, they’d likely be starting. Continue Reading…