Preview and chat: The Minnesota Timberwolves

Kurt —  December 20, 2006

You get what you pay for here at FB&G. I have no comments from last night’s game as I didn’t see it (blame the virus wiping me out). So, I’ll borrow some thoughts from yesterday’s comments:

From the always-insightful kwame a.:

Second half we lost our defensive intensity, we only gave up 42 pts in the first half. I’d say the low-point was when Kwame was out to begin the fourth quarter and the Bulls ran their offense through Mike Sweetney. Bynum looked completely lost, they got out ahead by 7 before Kobe could come back in and we never saw the lead again. At some point they have to put Andrew on the pine for his defensive lapses, it’ll let Ronny play and show Andrew that defense and defensive rotations are just as important as post touches

From Dr.RayEye

The Lakers began to take on the personality of the Smusher at his best–a brilliant offensive play followed by bozo defense–a brilliant defensive play followed by a bozo offensive move (maybe more bozo defense than offense). Frustrating, but fun to watch for Smushaholics.

And Muddywood expressed the frustration:

PUT A BODY ON SOMEONE!!! DO THEY TEACH THAT ANYMORE? Real rebounders assume that every shot is a miss and every rebound is theirs. Turiaf is the only one. He’s a real rebounder. Everyone else just gets rebounds that kind of just bounce their way.

Last meeting. The Lakers played the Timberwolves in just the fifth game of the season, and that may have been Andrew Bynum’s best game as a Laker. He had 20 points, 14 boards, three blocks, an eFG% of 67%, was a team best +14 ad had an offensive rating of 156. That was a bit of anomaly, usually it has been point guards doing the damage to the T-Wolves this season.

Also in that meeting, Kobe shot 71% but had “just” 17, Odom had 15 points and 9 boards.

For the T-Wolves, and try not to be shocked by this, Kevin Garnett was the force that kept the team close, or even in the building. He had 26 points on 55.6% shooting, and offensive rating of 126 and he used 20% of his team’s possessions. It’s been about the same of late, in the last 10 games KG has averaged 22.3 and 11.6.

(Quick shout out to Rob L. for providing game stat breakdowns for me.)

Things to look for: Last meeting, the Lakers played good perimeter defense (again in part because Bynum was a strong presence behind Smush, Kobe and the rest). In that game Mike James, Randy Foye and Ricky Davis all shot under 33%. It’s going to be tough to do that well again on all of them, but keeping any of them from getting hot and shooting over 50% (none average that on the season) will go a long way toward getting the win.

Rookie Craig Smith apparently has fallen a little out of favor, he is shooting well (59.2% in his last 10 games) but getting just 18 minutes and averaging 6.7 points per game.

Road back-to-backs are hard, but this is a winnable game — outside of KG the T-Wolves have no reliable offense (which is why they are 28th in the league in offensive efficiency). Of course, right now you could say the same thing about the Lakers and Kobe. It pretty easy to define this game — whichever team gets the better contributions outside their respective superstars will get the win.

Kurt

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51 responses to Preview and chat: The Minnesota Timberwolves

  1. Sure missing Joel Meyers and Stu Lantz, and will for the next week or so. The Lakers need to get their confidence and swagger back. Luke Walton has been the guy that seemingly tells me if we are playing well or not. If he is on, our chances of winning go up immensely. Last night was very disappointing, but it was wasy to see that coming. The Bulls missed a million first half shots. You just knew a few would fall sooner or later. For tonight, let’s see how well Kwame and Luke play from the opening tip. Big game, i’m not ready to lose our 10th game of the season yet.

  2. I meant to put something in about the Laker broadcast team. I think Spiro Didas, the radio play-by-play guy is the best broadcaster the Lakers have right now. All I caught of the Bulls game was about 10 minutes on the radio, but it reminded me how much better I like him than Meyers. Topic for another post someday, I guess.

  3. I don’t really like Myers, but he’s not bad.. Stu Lantz is godly.

  4. Can’t feel you on that yet, bro’.

    I hear SDs vocals more than his content,
    especially the descriptions of the shots,
    “rattles it through,” “slams it home,” and so forth.

    I think he feels he’s being descriptive and brief
    but he becomes repetitive and after a while
    loses what original vividness he had.

    He also tends to speak at the same tone and tempo
    regardless of the play, or who’s handling the ball.

    He’s got a confident tone, but he rushes his pace
    so when I turn on the radio with the game in progress
    I’m disoriented, so to speak, for a few until I hear the score
    or the beginning of a new offensive drive.

    He’s got to relax and find the extra space
    during the play to be able to just talk.

    Having Mychal Thompson co-pilot
    in a way, kind of maintains those aspects.
    He’ll call MTs name
    and then his voice transitions to more
    of the conversational tone I’d like to hear,
    but it’s the way he should also addess the listener.

    For comparison, listen to Matt Pinto call
    the ( you should pardon the expression ) Clippers games.

    That dreadful “money ball” phrase notwithstanding,
    since he’s on his own, and probably because he’s been
    doing the gig a little longer than Spero, he speaks
    with some vocal variety and he takes his time,
    where SD sounds like the car is driving him a bit.

    Surely all that can be attributed to experience
    and he’ll settle in and be fine one day.

    I also don’t wish to suggest that MThompson be jettisoned
    but rather that in time Spero use him less as the listeners’
    proxy and let him do his color man thing.

    I’m ambivalent about Joel because I generally liked him
    on the Westwood One broadcasts, but I can hear
    certain, er, whiny traits that he could do without
    on the K to the CAL.

    Past history, although it may not have been
    a popular opinion with many Laker fans,
    I was a Sunderland fan. Homer, shmomer,
    I could follow the action and I liked his, how you say, “pep.”

    I dig Stu with a backhoe because he teaches me
    about the game im a relaxed way, and I can overlook
    some mannerisms he has ( Mr. Momentum )

    - 5 -

  5. Stu is being exposed each year he hasnt worked with Chick. I have a lotta respect for Stu, but I agree with Kurt, the radio team, even in lieu of Michael Thompson’s annoying moments, is waaay better than the t.v. team. More positivity than Joel and no Laker Live.

  6. Remind me not to go into Lakersground game threads. I’ve never seen so many chicken littles in my life.

  7. Bynum showing things he hasn’t shown in a couple of weeks now…

  8. i’m absolutely blindsided about what happened tonight.

    And Mike james must REALLY hate Bynum by now…

  9. Wow. Little bit behind on Tivo so I was about 30 minutes behind, but that was one of the more satisfying wins of the season. I thought our bench could be important, but I didn’t see that coming. And plenty of rest for the starters to take on what passes for good teams out East next.

  10. I can only wonder what’s on KG’s mind right now…

  11. Dallas may be in trouble…..Dirk just went down in PAIN.

  12. OUCH…just showed the replay and it looked as if he broke it. His ankle that is…

  13. wow! big big win by the lakers tonight! I kinda gave up on them coz they fell behind by 12 in the 4th. then I check again 20 mins after and what do u know… i just checked the play-by-play on nba.com to see what really happened and i’m glad to see that other players decided to step up! vlade and evans are getting comfortable in their roles and in the triangle. I’m also kinda glad in a way that kobe wasn’t there during the run. that gives the other players confidence in themselves that they can and SHOULD contribute if the team wants to be a serious contender. I just hope that vlade continues to step up and plays true to his potential and be the 15-18pt scorer and serious outside threat the team needs

  14. hard not to love Farmar’s play tonight. Phil tinkering with the lineup started Cook over Vlade? With Odom out, and Bynum/Kwame not able to be on the court at the same time, how is Turiaf not getting any time? We have not other PFs! Is he injured? I just don’t understand this.

  15. Based on what the Timberwolves saw of Andrew Bynum through two encounters (including his role with the “supersubs” tonight), if KG demands and gets his trade to the Lakers, Andrew better like cold winters!

  16. ^^^Hell no. Bynum’s going NOWHERE.

  17. Drew’s not going anywhere and KG isn’t coming to LA.

  18. I hope you guys (16, 17) are right. There is a very special chemistry emerging from this team.

    Farmar ran the “supersubs” like they were UCLA. When Farmar, Evans, Radman, Sasha, and Andrew can execute a 29 to 5 turnaround, you KNOW they are playing defense as a team.

  19. Am I the only one who isn’t a fan of Lantz?? Chick kept him in check.

    Stu’s redeeming quality however, is as we go to commercial, he usually begins a sentence without any idea as to how he’ll end it. It usually ends up being pretty inadvertently hilarious. “An Kobe goes blam-o. You can’t… come… to MY house… says Kobe… unless its… for a… tupperware party… but there won’t BE any tupperware parties. And the Lakers take the lead, by two.”

    I like Cook starting over Radman. Keeps the 1st and 2nd units balanced.

  20. It’s too bad Farmar doesn’t have his NBA legs yet because I’d love to see him running the show on a more regular basis.

    I thought Phil did a nice coaching job last night with the reserve unit. In the 2nd, they made a run pushing the lead to 8 with the Wolves starters resting as well. When Minnesota got their guys back in, they stopped the Laker run and started to push back, so Phil put the starters back in about a minute later. In the 4th, however, the 2nd unit went on a run with Garnett on the bench. When the score was tied, Minnesota got Kevin and Mike James back into the game to try to stop the bleeding, but they weren’t able to slow the run by the Laker reserves, so Phil left them out there to play out their momentum. I thought it was good recognition on the coaching staff’s part. I’m sure they appreciate the compliments of some dude on the intertron.

    And I’m with you CTDeLude. I stay away from the LG game threads for the most part. I like to go in there and talk about it with the guys if something spectacular happens during a game, but for the most part the hand-wringers that hang out in them are eager to start trading people away during bad stretches of the game.

  21. LG is crazy, but indicative of mainstream Laker fans. That’s why I love FBG, it’s indicative of the most loyalest and knowledgable Laker fans.

  22. What’s worse is I find myself getting caught up in it sometimes. That’s supposedly to be reserved for the days of my past internet youth…

  23. Love your little Kobe point total post you got going though…

  24. what was the best part of the game last night was watching the second unit start to believe they can not only hold their own, but can become a formidable force to be dealt with.
    remember the bench the Dodgers had when they won the championship? Mickey hatcher lead a unit, what did they call themselvse? the “stuntmen”? not sure, but they were a main reason the team won that year.
    this is the best way to strike fear in your opponents, having a second unit that not only holds on until the starters get back, but can actually build a lead and finish a game. this unit on the floor in that comeback can aspire to that level, and when that happens, we essentially have 2 teams to play out the long season, thus coming into the “second season” , ie; the playoffs, with a much fresher, stronger team.
    I know Phil can see the value in this. I seem to recall other teams who won the ring having a simiilar second unit superior to other teams.
    let’s hope they bild on this as the season progress’s.

  25. I think the best way to strike fear into an opponent is to have Kobe on your team. That might be your largest fear-unit per player ratio right there. Artest is up there.

    The Laker 3-peat teams didn’t have great bench players.

  26. You don’t have to have a deep bench to win, but it provides options, both in terms of matchups (handy in the playoffs) and just going with the hot hand on a night. I’m not sure how much fear it strikes, but it wins you games. Like last night.

  27. 21., 22. There are some people I really like to read at LG, I just feel I have to wade through a lot to get there. It’s like panning for gold.

  28. No need to pan for gold on LG, just use the search feature. Some of my favorites are: dancingbarry, larrycoon, jeremysnow, emplay, lakerjam, wolfpaclaker

  29. I’m wondering if the Lakers’ defense is considerably better with Farmar on the court…? Farmar isn’t exactly a good defender, but when he’s on the floor everyone seems more organized.

  30. Can’t believe nobody has mentioned the “Vlad Shuffle” he rocked after that masterpiece of a 3 point dagger. That was friggin hilarious! I am still floored by the Lakers win last night. The more i think about it, the more i like it. We are now 3-3 without Odom, so it’s worth reflecting on the things we have done right.

    1.) Use all of our bench (except for turiaf?)
    2.) Get Smush and Kwame involved early and run plays for them.
    3.) Let Vlad/Cook get some playing time – - a huge key for us down the stretch. Their shooting ability is a match-up nightmare for “bigs”.

    This time has also exposed some weaknesses.

    1.) Consistentency – - letting teams set their own tempo at home stacks the cards against us.
    2.) Dribble Penetration – - Stay in fron tof your man, please!!!
    3.) Streaky Shooting – - We do not have a great shooting team. our triangle offense gives above average shooters open looks (how else can you explain being 3rd in the league in field goal percentage). Without Odom, we must be more disciplined on offense or we will expose our shooters to challenged shots.

    A few things to look for over the next month.

  31. 29. Yes. The Lakers are 4.9 points per 100 possessions better with Farmar on the court this season than when he sits so far this season, Or look at it this way, if he played a full 48 at the Lakers regular pace, the team would give up 4.5 fewer points.

    And since you’re about to ask, the Laker defense is 3.9 points per 100 possessions worse when Smush is on the floor, or in the same full game the Lakers would give up an additional 3.6 points.

    And I’ll add, to be fair, that Smush as the starter has spent more time matched up against other starters so far. But the basic premise that the Lakers play better D with Faramr is true.

  32. And to be extra fair: When Smush is on the floor the Laker offense is one point better per 100 possessions than when he sits, but with Farmar on the floor the offense is 4.9 points per 100 worse. Again, Farmar is spending more time on the floor with the subs.

  33. I wonder if we might be seeing the sliver lining to Odom’s injury, similar to when Kobe sat out early on. Playing without Kobe forced the Lakers to get everyone involved. Playing without Odom if forcing the team take on different roles, again. Especially on defense. It also seems to be getting Vlad to step up his game big time. That could just be coincidental timing. Perhaps his hand is not in as much pain as before. But who cares? We’re starting to see the player the Lakers knew they were getting, and just in time.

  34. 30. By the way, did you see the post-game interview with VladRad? They asked him about that dance and he said “I’ve been watching too much Borat.” He called it a Borat dance.

  35. 34 – My man, Kurt. So it’s the Borat dance. Ironic cause the guys on FSN Northwest were saying that Vlad looked just like Borat. Awkward moment actually. The T-Wolves version of Stu Lantz (but couldn’t hold Stu’s jockstrap) just wouldn’t shut-up about his Borat joke and thought he was so funny. Glad Vlad had the last laugh. My League Pass package always cuts off before the post-game. I forget you guys live out there and can watch Lakers coverage all the time. I’m in the Texas Triangle coverage. Happy Holidays guys!

  36. I scratch my head many times when I am watching
    this here thigs called basketball, because to my mind,
    what the second unit did last night is what they are supposed
    to do – get a lead or maintain whatever the starters
    were able to do.

    And if the starters don’t have the horsepower,
    as they surely did not, then the pine riders best be ready
    to rock.

    But it seems like the Association, or personnel
    in most organizations in the league encourage
    “know your role” narrow specialization in their players
    which is counterproductive when one of the cogs
    in the machine is out for repair.

    When I see Sasha or VladRad or Smush or BCook
    go to the paint instead of camping out behind
    the three-point line, I’m thinking, “Why don’t they
    do that more? Why don’t they expand their game
    so they have more options when the three is cold?”

    Why should they wait for Odom or Kobe to go down
    to develop more dimensions to their ability?

    I would think it would occur to players that their
    value to a team would increase if they had more skills
    even if they aren’t called on to use them often.

    Not only that, the real-game situation
    wouldn’t cause as much anxiety, and Vujacic
    would be hitting all those threes just like he does
    in practice and warm-ups.

    Beyond that, they’ll look to defense first,
    for they know they can get the shot.
    ( Phoenix does not lack for offensive confidence, we know )

    And it shouldn’t matter who is or is not on the floor,
    Kobe handling the ball should not stop me from cutting
    to get an open shot if he can find me, or vice versa.

    Easy for a civ to say, true.

    I would like to see the squad build on this game,
    but I think that will have include individual development
    not just the team workouts and that’s the hard part.

    I’ve seen some Kobe’s influence on the physical development of some of the players, but to match
    the mentality of Bryant or Steve Nash is also part of that
    offtime prep that will be there for them whether or not
    the all-stars are injured.

    UR right Rob L, who cares when it happens
    as long as it does?

    But it would also be cool to see the second unit
    hit the floor and expect to see the kind of play
    we saw last night.

    After all, like Chris Rock says, that’s their job.

    And I stay away from other fan sites
    during nervous time, too.
    They all become freakers and flamethrowers
    and warp the karma.

    It’s better to wait until the mosh clears
    and then inject some perspective
    if you still care to bother, but I think
    they enjoy the tumult.

    - 5 -

  37. I’d love to see that dance more often,
    ’cause I’d know the Lakers are having a good game
    and having fun.

    - 5 -

  38. Thanks for the info, Kurt. I guess the stats’ might be more accurate next season.

    Anywho, Sasha looked confident yesterday, and I was pleasantly surprised. Hopefully he keeps up with that confidence.

  39. ca-born, I think the stats are pretty clear that so far the Laker defense has been much better when Farmar is in compared to Smush, about 8.8 points per 100 possessions. That’s alot. The trade off is the offense falls off with Smush out and Farmar in, about 5.9 per 100.

  40. John (Vancouver-JAPAN!) December 21, 2006 at 7:01 pm

    I thought Canada was bad for basketball news. The Kings signing a Japanese hockey player was bigger news than the Allen Iverson trade here, so much so that I didn’t even hear of it until checking into a net/manga cafe.

    Other than that, Japan is amazing. Really amazing!

    To come back to something though.. I loved Kobe’s comments on Arenas. It really shows who watches Kobe play.

  41. John (Vancouver-JAPAN!) December 21, 2006 at 7:02 pm

    Sorry for the double, but just so you know – Japanese basketball fans are crazy for Allen Iverson. In fact, most of my Korean friends like him too. AI is big in Asia :p

  42. How does kobe’s comments on Arenas show who watches Kobe play? I thought Kobe could have given Gil some more credit… the dude scored 60 points. If you read Gil’s blog on NBA.com, he says some really nice things even after those comments by Kobe…

  43. Kurt – But would the stats not be more accurate if Farmar were placed on the starting line-up? Which, will hopefully happen next season. :P

    Damn you Smush…I hate his effort on defense. He has the potential to be a good defender, but the guy just doesn’t try…or listens.

    Elyse – Kobe’s a cocky guy. Not as cocky as that old heavy guy with the bad freethrow shooting, but he’s a cocky guy…

  44. ca-born, what we really would like to know is what Farmar would look like in the starting lineup, particularly defensively. The only way to really assess that would be to see how he’s done this season matched up against opposing starting point guards that Smush also has faced in the same game. You could do comparison stats and breakdowns of those situations if you had the time and the film. I have neither, but I would suspect the Lakers have kept track of it.

  45. I understand he is cocky… most great athletes are. I just don’t understand how his comments mean other players watch him… I was honestly just confused, well, I still am. I don’t see how saying Arenas was ‘unconscious; means anything

  46. Kurt – Yeah, that’s what I meant to say.

    Anywho, anyone think there’s a chance that Dre Miller gets traded?

    If BK really wants a good pick that bad, I hope Mitch makes some phone calls. They’d probably want Farmar, but maybe Mihm, a filler (?) , that injury exception, and a pick (?) would do it.

    I know we like shooters at the point, but PJ has previously praised Dre’s play…

  47. Farmar and Bynum are the future of the Lakers. You can see it when they are out on the floor together. Farmar makes it a point to get Bynum the ball.

    Kobe is just gettiing older. Those two are just gettting better.

  48. I think it depends, I think the 76ers have a full roster.

  49. Farmar, Mihm, Cap Relief, and a draft pick is more than Denver gave up for AI. I think getting Miller would be ridiculously easy…

  50. I wouldn’t mind. He would at least bring consistent scoring.

  51. ^^^And great passing.

    Goo – Oh I hope so. I think he will trade him, considering he wants a high draft pick. I think Mihm and that trade exception is enough for cap to work…