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.