Chat: The Minnesota Timberwolves

Kurt —  December 14, 2008

I wish I had something, but the Lakers pregame consisted of nothing exciting from Phil and Odom, after hearing what Teixeira was offered, saying his boy is going to play baseball. But more to come, and start chatting here.

12 minutes to tip: Staples Center feels like…. A T-Wolves game. Not the most energetic crowd. Most of whom want to talk Boston on Christmas day.

Aside that, Gasol has a nice handle, better than I tend to think, and Kevin Love is working on NBA threes. About an hour ago, Sun was out working with Rambis: Kurt stood at the elbow (high post spot in the triangle) and Sun worked on making the pass from the point, going around the high post on a curl, then pulling up for a midrange jumper. Classic triangle stuff.

3 minutes to tip: By the way, I said Phil didn’t say anything interesting in pregame, that wasn’t totally true, he did say that he thought Radmanovic probably wants to assassinate him.

10:11 First quarter. The Wolves are basically in a zone, one the Lakers can exploit inside, as evidenced by the offensive boards.

By the way, lest you think this is all that glamorous, I am sitting between China Hoops and Basketball News China.

6:20 First Quarter: The Lakers really are forcing the Wolves to be jumpshooters and they are not good at that. So far, eFG% of 25%.

8:08 First quarter: Mike Miller just waived off a sub after the second foul, and McHale looked confused before deciding to go with Miller’s wishes.

Okay, at the 5 minute mark, going on Mike Miller Watch. Especially after that impressive pass to two kids in the front row.

The Lakers respect him so much they have Walton on him. The Wolves are trying to do the smart thing, trying to keep Miller on the weak side and whipping passes to him, except nobody they have is that good a passer.

By the way, outside of Jefferson the Wolves are 1 of 7 from the floor.

Walton, to his credit, is keeping an eye on Miller and forced a dribble and pass on the one kick-out he just had. That said, Miller was never fast, but he seems a step slower and with that less confident.

1:56 First Quarter:
Kevin Love sighting!

:25 First Quarter: So far Love has an assist on one of those beautiful outlets and ripped a rebound away from Pau, He looks good, strong and just knows how to use his body.

And I thought, with the naked eye, Farmar was late (not his fault). Secondly, Ariza has clearly lost all confidence in his outside shot. He really is looking to drive, he passed open a pretty good look at a three to drive into traffic.

10:30 Second quarter: This is just not pretty basketball, despite the really pretty and one by Ariza.

9:35 Second quarter: Jefferson loves to get the ball on the left block, spin into the paint and shoot the running jump hook, but Bynum’s length is really starting to bother him on that shot.

And right now is when I’m glad I’m here and not watching at home, because you all are about to be subjected to George Lopez.

6:54 Second Quarter:
Against the Wolves, you can really see what the Lakers new defense can do. They are smothering what Minnesota wants to do, and this is not a team with other options to easily fall back on. The Lakers length is killing them.

On the other end, well, the offense really is just sloppy with the ball and missing good looks. You get the feeling they are just going to turn the spigot on and pull away, but that has yet to happen. Consistency……

4:20 Second Quarter. That two plays that led to the Bynum ally-oop were on Love. Ariza made the steal because Love did not come to meet the ball and didn’t see Ariza, then he spectated back up the court when everyone else ran.

By the way, Criag Smith is just a strong man.

Can you say enough just how well the two Lakers bigs run the floor.

And I told you about that running hook of Jefferson’s and Bynum. An Ariza will shoot the three if you go nowhere near him.

Two things are keeping this close. One, the Wolves have grabbed 44% of their missed shots. That’s crazy high. Second, the Lakers are shooting just 42.% eFG%. Not because of the Wolves so much as just not hitting things that normally fall, trying to get inside and passing up open looks.

5:00 Third Quarter: Watched the first half of the quarter from floor level. One thing that always impresses me live is just how little room Kobe needs to get off a shot and how he shoots with a hand in his face. It really is an amazing thing to watch.

Talked with guy Mike Trudell, he formerly of Minnesota, and he said that what Bynum did to Jefferson in the first half was the best he’s seen anyone defend the big man. Using his left hand then coming with the right when Jefferson shot threw him off. Jefferson adjusted and is just not going to that shot in the third.

Also, here was his theory on why Mike Miller looks so flat and just isn’t aggressive: When in Memphis the ball would go into Pau Gasol in the paint, and so when the double came the ball came flying back out to an open Miller. When it goes into Jefferson, it doesn’t come out much, so Miller just loses energy because he’s not involved on offense. However, he hit two threes in the third quarter as he got passes from guys whipping it around the wings and the Lakers not reacting.

0:01 Third Quarter: The Lakers should run more high pick and roll with Farmar. He’s back to exploding to the rim and he can run that play well.

The Wolves are shooting 41.8% eFG% and turning the ball over on 20% of their possessions. The Lakers should just be blowing them out of the water. When was the last time the Lakers scored just 69 through three?

11:30 Fourth Quarter:
Learned Kevin Love can jump high enough to goaltend. Who knew?

Actually, Love is doing some nice things out there, but right now they are asking him to cover Bynum, and that is just not something he can do. But he sets great picks, works hard on the boards and defense and, well, looks like he belongs more than a lot of rookies.

6:08 Fourth Quarter: Jordan Farmar got a little banged around out there, he was laying down with ice on his knee. That or he’s doing his best Steve Nash impression.

3:13 Fourth Quarter:
Adding to our growing Mike Miller theory, when Jefferson passed back out to Miller (catching Fisher off guard, he had sagged down for the trap) Miller drained it. He may want the ball to go inside out and isn’t getting that now.

Jefferson, by the way, looks tired. He is walking up the court, moving slow and just looks worn down after banging on Bynum all night.

1:30 Fourth Quarter: And the crowd heads for the door. However, the remaining people apparently love the noise meter.

Jefferson cannot even hold off Gasol now, and he should push Gasol around.

1:14 Fourth Quarter: Honestly, I could have gone the rest of my life without hearing Criss Cross do “Jump, Jump” again and been just fine.

Jefferson just drained a corner three. That guy is going to play for a good team someday.

I look forward to seeing the Lakers fourth quarter shooting percentage, I think it was better.

20 wins in 23 games. Not a thing of beauty, but a win.

to Chat: The Minnesota Timberwolves

  1. Any links for the game?



    You may need SOPcast to get the feed. Otherwise, search channel 451.


  3. Kurt, so how is this going to work for you. Do you have a notebook at your seat that you will be typing into while the game is playing in front of your eyes?


  4. Somewhat OT,but I just saw the Kobe Rockstar commercial,pretty funny,esp the long “shorts”!


  5. Wow, start off by giving points in the paint 😉

    Ominous, yeah.


  6. Long arms those two 7 footers of ours.


  7. Kobe, stop gambling.


  8. Lakers finally settled down on offense. Nice, like Stu says, let’s hope they continue this.

    T-Wolves are playing sloppy. I’d give credit to the Lakers, but they don’t deserve it. Wolves watching Jefferson and telegraphing passes.


  9. They should have Rambis and McHale play one on one during half time. That would be fun.


  10. the other Stephen December 14, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    tell the china news guys that i said “hi.”


  11. Don’t the Lakers play tonight? Why is Fox showing this late 90s Heat Knicks matchup? And why is Miami dressed in Green?


  12. The wolves seem to match up quite well against our bench.

    Could be an interesting game.


  13. Teams know Ariza’s game is awkward in between the 3 point line and the rim. They are doing a good job not allowing either.


  14. This isn’t as ugly as the Bucks game, but it’s close.


  15. This is a fun game to watch.


  16. Lakers look bored


  17. Look at the bright side, Fish and Farmar are stopping the penetration this game.


  18. Can we play any worst? Is it even possible? We can’t rebound can’t penetrate and can’t stop penetration from other teams. I said it before i’ll say it again…everything is the coache’s fault and Kobe’s.


  19. Kobe is 3/10 and the lakers are outrebounded 18/31!!!!
    Kobe is taking ONLY bad jumpshots the last 10 games…and besides him who else on our team has the ability to beat his man off the dribble and/or create his own shot? great teams besides goed or great defense have at least 3 stars who can score on their own we sadly do not.The sad thing is that PJ adressed this problem after this years finals but has done nothing to change it.



    That is the most pathetic defense I’ve ever seen.


  21. Ugly, these guys just don’t care.


  22. J.D. Hastings

    You saw defense? Where? I must’ve missed it 😉


  23. strong layup by luke


  24. this doesn’t even qualify to be called defense


  25. The Lakers defense isn’t bad, save some defensive rebounding lapses, it’s the offense. But a few more threes like Farmars and things may change.


  26. what was that last play with drew’s turnnover? the rest of the lakers guys just stood around watching while it was obvious drew was struggling trying to figure out what to do. talk about lazy and disinterested.


  27. 26. Kurt- I agree for most of this game, but that play was ridiculous. They not only don’t stop the ball, but it’s the other team’s center all the way? Yuck.


  28. JD, agreed, didn’t realize that was the play being referred to. I was downstairs and kept waiting for someone to stop the ball.


  29. Yes we have great defense…are you guys watching the same game?You call that defense? and Kobe is definitely a shell of his former self both ends of the floor.


  30. The Wolves are shooting 31% with 16 turnovers. What game are you watching where the other team is tearing it up? Yes that’s the Wolves, but these are NBA guys that they are stopping.


  31. Free throw marathon.


  32. Funny how anything less than utter domination just seems lacking.

    At least tonight the effort was there (in spurts, but in longer spurts). A few of the possessions, we had really smooth rotations that left nobody really open.

    Even with Kobe sort of cheating off his man.

    Problem is that you have that and lackluster defense in the same quarter. It’s annoying as hell, seeing your team play good and bad, only difference being their effort.


  33. It really was a game of spurts. Ariza may be the exception there.


  34. Aside from that play this game didn’t bother me much. It wasn’t pretty but the lakers got through it. A bit of a lazy Sunday night game against subpar competition (I think the laziness is most apparent on the boards tonight).

    I wonder if the tougher competition on the horizon will make the team focus more.


  35. Did Lamar play the entire fourth quarter?


  36. It wasn’t perfection so I will just complain about how bad the Lakers are.


  37. I heard a comment by Phil before the game where he talked about the change to Luke because he needed to get some ball movement. The implication, I thought, wasn’t that Vlade was doing anything wrong, but that he wasn’t getting ball movement out of Fish or Kobe and he had to get it somewhere. What this says is that Fish and Kobe are NOT doing their job, but just jacking up shots. I saw several times tonight where Kobe completely froze the offense with his shooting.

    We haven’t really talked about why the Lakers might need ball movement and that is the point of my post.


  38. 35. Pau was asked that after the game, if the tougher competition should mean more focus. He said it shouldn’t, then gave the stock answer about needed to be focused for the Knicks.

    36. Yes, he did.

    38. It clearly is why Walton is in. That is the one thing I took away from being here in person, just how if the fast break isn’t there they get the ball into the post, there are no cutters, and the ball stalls on the strong side. They need to get that going on.

    Odom was all about the execution after the game as well, you’ll be reading those comments all over the papers and Web tomorrow.


  39. Again, not a flawless game by any means, but I’ll come away from this win satisfied just the same. Nice to see the Lakers pull away in the 4th quarter and coast to victory instead of making us sweat it out.

    Kurt, you were lucky you missed it because that bit with George Lopez was interminable. While his ceaseless prattle and “edgy” racial humor were being indulged, it felt like a full quarter of basketball was being ignored by the announcers. Also, reading between the lines it seemed as if he might be having some trouble selling tickets to his Nokia Theatre dates.


  40. 40 Joel- I don’t know what you’re talking about. I mainly watch Laker games because I want to see celebrities interviewed. Where else am I supposed to find that?


  41. I thought our defense looked a little better tonight, on at least a few rotations. Granted, they were playing against the wolves. It was another one of those games where you knew we had it, that we would make that run and seal the deal.. it just came later in the game. 20 wins, very nice.


  42. Kurt,
    Re ball movement. I think the Lakers starters will struggle w/it all season long. Neither Bynum nor Pau will venture far from the lane,and Tex likes PG to stay at top of the circle for spacing,outlet 3pt shooting and esp to prevent fast breaks. That leaves the 2 wings,and if one is running the offense…
    One reason Phil may be playing Lamar in the 4Q is to get a big on the court who can go out on the perimeter and open up the lane for others-and himself.
    Wouldn’t be shocked if Phil decides to go small w/Gasol,Kobe,Walton,Ariza and one of the points so he can get motion back into the offense.
    And it’s time to get Kobe in motion and have him come off some screens for some open looks instead of letting Kobe try to initiate all his shots from a stationary iso situation.


  43. Since a lot of what I learned has to go to the company paying me to be at Staples, it may be a day or so before I get all my thoughts up. But here are a couple more things:

    The Lakers really didn’t seem to try to find the mismatch. They seemed content to just be more athletic than the team they were playing.

    The feeling in the locker room was that they realize their execution needs work. I’d say there is an intellectual understanding of that, but whether or not they get it in their gut is a topic for discussion. That said, nobody expects flawless ball in December.

    That really was just an ugly basketball game, but in the end there just are no ugly wins. You still take it, come April it will count the same as a pretty one.


  44. There have been a few plays over the last couple of games where Walton is running the triangle so well (and nobody else is) that it almost feels like a coach is drawing in the routes with a telestrator.

    There was a great play in the first half tonight where Walton made a dive into the paint (after a pass to Gasol in the post, I think). He didn’t get the ball, but he pulled in the defense enough for Bynum to step to the front of the rim for the quick pass and dunk. The dunk got all the attention, but it doesn’t happen without Walton’s move.

    If he could just (re)learn how to shoot, he’d be dangerous. But it would also be great if his attitude caught on with the rest of the team.

    Kurt- love the new perspective, and congratulations. It’s nice to see all your hard work paying off.


  45. A win is nice.

    That said, there is not a lot of good things to say about this game. Yes, we have more talent, but we are beginning to look like an even younger team than we are with no playoff experience.

    We have lots of time to change things, but I sure don’t like our starting habits.


  46. Much improved defense overalll. Big props to our PGs. Held the Wolves PGs to 3/17 shooting.


  47. 47. Agreed, although the T-Wolves PG sucks. How do they feel about that Foye for Roy trade now?


  48. i rolled my eyes when george lopez showed up on screen but i’ll be honest. homeboy had me laughin pretty good with some of his jokes. (of course, he then proceeded to milk the joke dry, which leaves a sour taste.)