On Tap: The Minnesota Timberwolves

Kurt —  December 10, 2005

Is it just me, or does it seem like we play these guys every third game? And, as Joel Meyers pointed out on the LA broadcast, how do they luck out and get us in the second game of a back-to-back when they are rested four times this season, two times in two weeks?

The Lakers come in to Minnesota above .500 thanks to one of their best defensive showings of the season in Chicago, holding the Bulls to 43.4% shooting (eFG%) and 2 of 14 from beyond the arc. Sweetney got his, and Hinrich scored but wasn’t much help on defense (and ended up -12), but Chandler (-16) and Deng (-15) were nonfactors. Let’s be fair here, part of Chicago’s trouble was they missed some good looks. Meanwhile, good games for the Lakers from Cook (+12, hit 8 of 11 shots), Sasha (+15) and Lamar Odom (+15). As long as other guys keep knocking down the shots Kobe needs to keep passing when the doubles and triples come.

It’s a good win but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves — winning four in a row is nice but it’s what good teams do. Teams that win 40% of their games (basically the Lakers last season) win four in a row 87% of the time, .500 teams do it 99.4% of the time. (Those stats come from Basketball on Paper.) What I’m saying is this is good, but the Lakers need to keep building in this and not have this as the season’s highpoint.

Building anything has not been easy for the Lakers in the second game of back-to-backs, it certainly wasn’t the last time these two met. It was those tired legs that seemed to kill the Lakers, they had a double-digit lead through the third quarter but watched it slip away when Minnesota shot 81% in the fourth quarter, led by Wally Szczerbiak and Troy Hudson going 4 of 5 from beyond the arc when the Lakers were slow to rotate on them (plus Garnett was Garnett). The Lakers are not the only team to fall victim to this, the T-Wolves needed a big fourth quarter comeback the other night to beat Portland.

It was the subs that did well against Minnesota last time, the five on the floor when the Lakers took over in the second quarter were Laron Profit, Luke Walton, Sasha, Chris Mihm and Lamar Odom (Kobe subbed out Odom during the 22-9 stretch where the Lakers took control). The second night of a back-to-back, the subs need to step up again.

The T-Wolves have won four straight and are doing it on both sides of the ball with good offense (ranked 10th in the league in efficiency) and defense (4th in the league). Like the Lakers, they seem to be coming together in a way many people thought they couldn’t. Which should make this an interesting game.

Kurt

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15 responses to On Tap: The Minnesota Timberwolves

  1. What did you think of the titles on the “reading list”? My favorite is Bynum and “The Old Man and the Sea”. Archetypical Mentor father whose skills are seemingly deteriorating has much to teach the pupil about the natural order of the world.

  2. this road trip is such a gradual test upon test of how good this team is. so far so very good.

    i hope they’re enjoying facing each of these challenges as much as we enjoy watching them.

    there does seem to be a real love for the game goin on with this team. and just as important, a real love to conquer and win.

  3. last night’s game in Chicago was fun to watch! great teamwork, great hustle, nice seeing the ‘Killer instinct” becoming a part of their make up.
    Even better is the way coach is brining in the second unit for both teaching them they are a real unit, capable of holding their own, and giving the starters a blow.
    And, we really need this second unit to be a factor on a road trip like this.
    As I said earlier, this Laker team almost beat both Chi-town and Minny at home a few weeks back, so they know they can beat them, in both cases, it seeme like tired legs, and a weak second unit defense let those games slip away.
    So now, the difference, (besides Kobe’s improved assists, and LO’s thinking more “O”) should hopefully be the continued improved play by the second unit, and the fact that our starters didn’t have to play 48 mins along the way, so let’s hope we play like theres no fatigue factor, and beat Minny like we should have in that last home debacle….time for some sweet revenge.
    Phil, motivate the guys, it’s time to believe in themselves, play team ball, stay tough on “D”, hustle all the time because there’s no need to try to pace themselves with a good second unti able to come in and keep up the pressure…here’s to 5 in a row!

  4. About last night, I would like to take note of the following:

    – Great effort by Kobe to make assists and be a team player in the first half. He playd like he should ALWAYS play. Make the easier shots and if the shot has a low probability of getting in, then pass the ball.

    – Old Kobe in the second half. Kobe was really selfish during the 3rd and 4th quarter and teamplay almost came to a halt. I really don’t understand this… We won not because of Kobe’s shots, but because the Bulls were missing some wide open jump shots. A team with slightly better shooting (or maybe Ben Gordon playing) would have taken the game from us…

    – Mihm’s defense doesn’t exist. The guy doesn’t know how to play defense. Instead of teaching Bynum to play (and he seemed really slow) what about tutoring Mihm in defense? Teaching where to place himself, how to guard the low post how to give proper help when the defense rotates… It was a mess…

    – Cook had a good game and he was enjoyable to watch.

    – Luke Walton couldn’t score anything yesterday if his live depended on it but… his passing skills are still there and he understands the offense. Lots of room to increase production.

    Bottomline: we need the first half Kobe, not the second half Kobe. He will still have the ball when the clock is going out. He will still be the nr 1 offensive weapon. This will still be his team… He must realize that the mroe involved his teammates are, the less opposition he will have.

    So, if anyone knows Phil Jackson or can get him this message, maybe you can tell him it’s time to give Kobe the Robert Duvall-Tom Cruise routine from Days of Thunder.

    In the movie, Duvall said…

    Let’s run 15 laps your way and 15 laps my way…

    Then they compared tyres (Duvall’s way were much better) and times (Duvall’s way times were also better)

    So, Phil should turn to Kobe and say:

    You had 18 games your way, now let’s play 18 games my way… Then we will compare our record and playoff placement and see how tired will we be entering the final stretch of games…

    (I’m curious to see how the defense holds up today against KG…)

  5. Cept the first 18 games HAVE been in many ways Phil’s game plan. He’s said as much. Maybe not the 30 shot games…but the lots of shots regardless.

  6. About the reading list, I liked giving Odom “Art of War,” a book about the philosophy of conflict, a book that discusses when to attack and when to be patient and wait for the right opportunity. I thought it an insipired choice to give a guy who could use to be inspired at times.

  7. Wait…is the reading list online?

  8. From the LA Times:

    Kobe Bryant received “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking,” a bestseller about making decisions, good and bad, and why some people are better at it than others.

    “It’s about following intuition, about intuitive thought,” Jackson said.

    Lamar Odom received Sun-Tzu’s “The Art of War,” a classic that centers on the concept of leading with wisdom and achieving success by understanding the nature of conflict.

    “It’s a little bit about how to promote competition,” Jackson said.

    For Kwame Brown, there was “Sacred Hoops,” a book written by Jackson about the principles of teamwork.

    Chris Mihm received “A Bell for Adano,” the story of an Italian-American major in World War II winning admiration from Italian townspeople by trying to replace a 700-year-old town bell that had been melted down for bullets by fascist leaders.

    “I’m still trying to figure it out,” Mihm said, smiling.

    Luke Walton received a book on the history of rock ‘n’ roll, Sasha Vujacic was given a spy novel written by Alan Furst, and 18-year-old Andrew Bynum, the youngest of the Lakers, was given “The Old Man and the Sea.”

  9. The Old Man and the Sea? Thats 10th grade stuff. The Lakers are officially remedial basketball.

    And about the The Art of War, you don’t go to war to try to win, if so you have already lost. The winner goes to war already having won. A fine parable for the last and current Laker campaigns. And the next 2 as far as I can tell.

    Lets Go Clippers Lets Go!

  10. One other book note, from the Daily News, I think (I’m paraphrasing here): Von Wafer was given “Poker For Dummies” because Phil thought he could use some help getting some of his money back.

  11. Let’s Go Clippers? Do Clipper fans exist??? Why????

    Can someone tell me the reason of their existence? I fail to understand… (They should move to another town, then I would understand having a fan base)

  12. On “Old Man and the Sea” being “tenth grade”:

    “A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.”

    -Italo Calvino

  13. I was remis in not defending Hemmingway, one of my personal favorites. Old Man and the Sea is great writing it that it is not complex on the surface but. like the sea itself, has much depth and nuance.

    Actually, next on my reading list is either “Salt” or a collection of short stories from Hemmingway including “Snows of Kilimanjaro.”

  14. Terrific Blog you have. Peace Out.
    TreeFrog

  15. Kewl blog you got goin on up here.
    Peace, JiggyWittit