Preview & Chat: The Minnesota Timberwolves

Kurt —  January 30, 2009
NBA 2008 - Lakers Beat Timberwolves 98-86

Records: Lakers 35-9 (1st in the West) T-Wolves 16-28 (10th in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 113.7 (1st in league) T-Wolves 106.0 (21st in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 104.7 (4th in league) T-Wolves 109.4 (24th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
T-Wolves Randy Foye, Sebasian Telfair, Ryan Gomes, Craig Smith, Al Jefferson

Biting The Hand That Feeds Me: Henry Abbott is wrong.

In his Friday Bullets today, Henry called Bynum’s flagrant foul on Wallace a dirty play and said he comments should have been more remorseful. First, we shouldn’t judge on one stand-alone comment (I’m glad the league saw my side and I didn’t get suspended.”). The fact that Bynum went over to the Bobcats locker room after the game, apologized to Larry Brown and asked to get in touch with Wallace is the sign of a guy who handled this the right way. One sentence in an interview is not a good way to judge, because anyone involved in those interviews knows how one line can be pulled out of context.

Second, it was not a dirty play. He came late and tried to foul to stop a lay-up. That play happens in every NBA game, six times in any game Wade is involved in. But watch it and it is clear Bynum did not intend to injure Wallace, he turns sideways. Henry, as someone with children, understands the difference between punishing intent and results. My four-year-old daughter has gotten in more trouble for doing things that did not hurt anyone but that she knows she wasn’t supposed to do than she has for accidents. Intent matters. Bynum, it is clear, did not intend to severely injure Wallace. The NBA understood this.

But, please keep working to give Bynum some sort of undeserved enforcer reputation. All the better for the Lakers.

The T-Wolves Coming In: This is a dangerous team.

The T-Wolves are 7-3 in their last 10 games (same record as the Lakers). And now this is the first game since the All-Star announcement slighted two Wolves, so they will be playing with a chip on their shoulder. First, Al Jefferson should have been on the team over David West, this is a case of people voting for the good guy on the winning team rather than the better guy whose GM has left him stranded. Secondly, and this may the bigger slight, Kevin Love was left off the rookie team. Really, there are nine rookies in the West better than him?

Both of those guys have been playing well of late. Jefferson has been a 22-10 guy in the last 10 games, getting to the line five times on average and shooting a solid 47.6%. He can get his shot in the lane very well against most teams. Love has been 12-10 in 24 minutes coming off the bench in the last 10, shooting 53% and getting to the line 4.5 times per game.

It took Love a little while to adjust to the NBA game, but look at what ESPN.com’s David Thorpe is saying about him now:

What Love has really shown lately is his incredible combination of skill and size, and his feel for the game — he’s often in the perfect position to make a play. He’s now No. 2 in Player Efficiency Rating for rookies and is tops in all three rebounding metrics (offensive, defensive and total rebound rate). That’s impressive, considering his poor start.

The other Minny guy playing well of late is Foye. He is averaging 18 a game and shooting 41% from three in the last 10. You have to go out and respect his shot now. He has picked up the outside shooting missing with Mike Miller out, and Foye has handles, too.

Keys To The Game: What the T-Wolves do is not complex, but you have to be focused to defend it. They simply like to go-inside out — Jefferson on the inside opening up room for shooters and guys who can slash on the wing.

Last meeting, the Andrew Bynum’s length really bothered Jefferson and he needs to do that again. And he needs to bring it — Jefferson is really going to be ticked and really look to prove a point tonight. Bynum has to be physical and use his length to bother Jefferson’s jump hook in the middle of the lane (Bynum blocked one last game).

In the last meeting of these two teams, the T-Wolves hung in because they grabbed a lot of offensive rebounds — 16 for the game, with Jefferson getting five and the strong Craig Smith getting four. The Lakers need to take care of the glass.

Ultimately, the T-Wolves don’t shoot well from the midrange. If you take away Jefferson or the three from Foye and others, they will miss a lot of shots. Then crash the boards and get out and run. Sounds simple, but seven of the last 10 teams they played could not do it well enough.

And if the game is close at the end, remember this from Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don’t Lie:

And if things are close in the end, not that I’m rooting either way, you’d like to hope that the Lakers would be the first team to not act surprised when Minnesota throws out its late-game go-to play; a curl that sees Foye grab the ball on the strong side of the inbound passer, only to turn over his left shoulder, drive hard with the right hand, and go up for a floater off glass. They’ve only been running this, and we’re serious, since 2006. And yet, teams have looked surprised by it ever since.

Where you can watch: 5 pm starts out West on KCAL 9, and the usual spots around the Web.

Kurt

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68 responses to Preview & Chat: The Minnesota Timberwolves

  1. might be itnerested reading this interview with kobe

    http://www.complex.com/CELEBRITIES/Cover-Story/Kobe-Bryant

  2. “Biting The Hand That Feeds Me” Priceless! Definitely no changes here after the Truehoop tie-in.

    Dare I say, trap game. Hopefully Drew comes out and brings it tonight and doesn’t have a let down after this recent hullabaloo. I think this may the biggest controversy he’s had in his NBA career, outside of injury. And yea, I used the Firefox spell check for hullabaloo.

  3. Kobe has always enjoyed playing on the road – especially long road trips. After the woeful game from Pau vs. the Cats, expect to see a strong showing and a blowout tonight. This trip is going to really settle us in as favorites. Also, for all of the smack that Memphis GM Wallace took for unloading Gasol, you don’t hear any of that (or did) when McHale traded Garnett – the only real pickup was Jefferson and they’re still a year away from being a playoff team.
    Let’s get this trip off on the right foot…

  4. The Kobe interview linked in the first comment is good (i used some of it the other day at the other gig). Not much basketball news, but the stuff about the music at Staples being dated is dead on.

  5. what are the usual sites on the web where one can watch the lake show? why so cryptic?

    :0)

  6. 2. Normally, I’d think major trap game too but since we just lost, I’m thinking that the Lakers will come out and play hard. As long as they do that, we should have a fairly easy win. I’m really looking foward to seeing Kevin Love in this game though, I haven’t seen him at all in the NBA.

  7. Ariza has been cleared to play tonight.

  8. Why haven’t I seen an article on Kobe’s flat out toughness? Don’t any of the talking heads/sportswriters realize how rare something like this is? Not playing through an injury – a lot players do that. What’s amazing is how Kobe constantly adapts his game. His play doesn’t fall off in the slightest.

    His skill set is so complete (yes, more so than Lebron) that he doesn’t let anything alter his game. Hurt right shoulder? OK, I’ll learn to shoot with my left. Torn tendons in my pinky? Won’t let it affect my dribble.

    And now with this dislocated finger, the first 3-4 games it was clear it affected his shooting. For God’s sake, the guy was shooting off his thumb, index and middle fingers. And now after a few games, he’s made the adjustment and his jumpshot is back on.

    Am I crazy, or does anyone else think this is incredible? A lot of players can play through pain. But to keep his level of play the same, by elevating other areas of his game to make up for the shortcoming? Kobe’s jumpshot is arguably his premier weapon. Can anyone imagine Lebron or Wade losing their explosiveness to a knee injury? (see: Wade 2007-08).

  9. losdela

    once it gets to game time you’ll be able to find the game on http://www.atdhe.net

  10. The problem with those who say. “…fairly easy game tonite…” is they haven’t seen the last several games the Wolves have played. They are gaining confidence and playing loose – I guess McHale is good for something. They are also a physical team. Those are two danger signs for the Lakers; especially after Bynum’s flagrant.

  11. “Macho Man” Andrew Bynum? The elbow? OOH, YEAH!

    Yeah, no. I’m kind of puzzled by the way a lot of bloggers have demonized Bynum for that foul. Their readings have been off-the-wall.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing how assertive and confident Bynum plays on both ends of the floor. Also, I’m interested in how involved he is in the offense.

    I’d prefer the offense be a little more deliberate. I mean, I’d feel more *comfortable* if Pau and Bynum being post-fed all game long.

    But I understand that taking decent perimeter shots without hesitation is going to be key against good defensive teams, especially the Cs. While I’m not totally enamoured of Fisher’s shot selection at times, I do like his confidence and decisiveness.

  12. Since McHale took over defensive intensity has improved. Foye is actually playing well. Miller has added play making to his tool set. He has become extremely proficient at driving to the hoop, not to score but to set up the bigs for easy scores.

    They are not a simple inside out team any more. Foye takes it to the hole surprisingly well and Carney is their JR Smith with the same range and even better athleticism.

    If Joe Johnson and C Webb had a child together he would look like Ryan Gomes….

    Keep it simple and pound it inside. Let Drew play Jefferson straight up and the Lakers should be fine.

  13. T-Wolves have the BEST team since 09 has started. I’d be most wary of Foye, he is really clicking at the 2 guard, he was out of position playing PG. My favorite non-Laker is on the Wolves, Craig Smith, from Fairfax HS. I dont think it will be easy, and Im glad Ariza is playing.

    Key to tonight is getting Gasol off, I’d go to him early and often tonite.

  14. After that nightmare of a Bobcats game, I will not underestimate another team again for the remainder of the season. I don’t care who it is.

  15. ya know, I can’t tell you how many times this year I’ve seen trevor get knocked hard, sometimes down low, when he’s slashing to the rim, only to see trevor somehow, catlike, land on his feet. if, however, trevor wasn’t ‘catlike’, he would be hitting the hardwood like a ton o’ bricks, and the refs would be blowing a flagrant. but since ol’ trevor does save his butt this way, we don’t see the calls.
    my point here is that andrew/wallace incident was as much a fault if wallace recklessly attacking the rim, and not being able to adjust mid air, (not cat like) he slammed into drew the way I saw it, and it wasn’t like drew said, “hmm, got a chance to use my elbow to crack some ribs, collapse some lungs here”…
    wasn’t a flagrant if wallace had the catlike skills of trevor. and wasn’t a case of drew looking to hurt someone.
    bad henry.

  16. Worst. Floor. Ever.

  17. 14 pts in 3 minutes Good start.

  18. 16

    Without question Kurt.

    You can already see where the Lakers’ size advantage is going to be telling. The Wolves have a short frontcourt so Bynum and Gasol will be able to shoot right over their defenders, and Kobe has already abused Foye on the block and sent him to the bench with foul trouble.

  19. Definitely the worst floor ever, and that echo doesn’t help too much either.

  20. 10. I’m glad that Bynum didn’t get suspended. I didn’t think he meant to do harm or intentionally hurt Wallace. It was just a hard foul gone bad resulting in a terrible injury. I definitely don’t agree with Henry that Bynum was playing dirty, especially since none of Wallace’s teammates or coach feel that way. Bynum has attempted to apologize and is regretful of the results of his sloppy play. I feel that Henry may be speaking from an anti-Laker bias if he refuses to take those points into consideration.

    I also don’t agree with your statement about Wallace getting hurt because he is not “cat-like”. It wasn’t the landing that fractured and collapsed his lungs, it was the contact with Bynum’s elbow. If Trevor ran into that same elbow in that same manner, he probably would also be in the hospital.

    It would be nice if we could move on from this saga. Bynum has played much better due to his aggressiveness and I hope that he doesn’t let this whole episode get to him. I definitely would like to see the Lakers develop an enforcer-type defender (not necessarily a dirty defender).

    Hopefully Wallace will recover quickly and be able to join his team again.

  21. I meant 15.

  22. Their court has a farmers tan. Fitting for a midwest team.

  23. One thing about the Wallace foul. I’m not even sure if the injury occurred due to Bynum’s elbow. It seemed that when wallace landed, he had his arm underneath his body. Falling on his arm from that high up could very easily have caused the injury.

  24. Lotta open looks, the Wolves are getting.

  25. We need to be more selective on the break, the first open 3 is not always the best shot.

  26. The echo on this broadcast is annoying. What is that from? Floor mikes?

  27. If you guys are interested. Shirt.woot.com has a monkey king themed shirt. Awesome I know.

  28. Want to make Bynum watch Love work. Love seems to always be moving to the rim on the shot, and always seems to box out on defense.

    Nice to see at this level.

  29. Anyone got a new link?

  30. Hilarious how Bynum blocked the shot and immediately started sprinting for the other basket before even making sure the ball was rebounded!

  31. the way bynum is playing right now… i hope the sports guy is watching ;)

  32. slop

  33. That’s like the 4th time in 2 minutes the lakers have left the ball rolling on the floor on offense

  34. What’s with the bad refereeing lately? Awful.Makes it hard to watch the game even with the Lakers winning.Hardest thing to do,cause nobody can do it.

  35. If Gomes wants to ignore Farmar guarding Love, more power to him

  36. Good thing it’s not another finger injury.

  37. Somebody needs to let the Lakers bigs know that Kevin Love has a good midrange jumper.

    Laker reserves getting the job done tonight.

  38. JD, what was that with Cal last night?

    If the Lakers bench can hold on, this is the sort of win we needed.

  39. Pau sure draws tons of fouls. I know I’m always promoting him, but still;)

  40. 40

    That’s the reason he shouts like he’s getting mugged every time he puts up a shot.

  41. The shots that fall for Kobe are just unbelievable…

  42. why has bynum not back in? comon phil

  43. Joel: Touché=)

  44. Stop! Kobe time!

  45. 43. With a back-to-back, if they can rest Bynum more tonight I’m fine with that.

  46. 39- Teams are figuring Cal out I guess. They still shoot well, but they just aren’t built to be a great defensive team. UCLA beat them up. Oh well. Keep in mind its kind of like the Lakers early last year- they weren’t supposed to be good so the good tastes a little sweeter than the bad is bitter.

    How many whistles have we had in this quarter? Ugh. Another. Why?

  47. Blatant over the back by drew on kobe.

  48. Al Jefferson is an all-star

  49. Look at Andrew thugging it up with Jefferson and Foye after the game. How dare he?

  50. love drews play as of late hopefully he can maintain so when they go to boston and cleaveland we’ll be ready. everyone is finally all healthy and the team is back to where it needs to be! besides some defensive lapses tonight we were soo good.

    1 down 5 more to go

  51. What a horrible game for Andrew…this guy just needs to play better….hahhaha, nah, cant play much better than Andrew right now.

  52. When Kendrick Perkins gets suspended for his flagrant 2 do you think Boston fans will whine that there’s a double standard? Think Bill Simmons will have a position?

  53. The Dude Abides January 30, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    I wonder how many bloggers who didn’t watch this game will say that Andrew played well on offense, but let Jefferson go off for 34 points. I’m going to make an educated guess that approximately half of those 34 came when Andrew was out of the game.

  54. Jefferson needed 27 shots and 11 FTAs to get his 34. I can live with that

  55. I love Kevin Love’s game, but he can’t match up with Pau. Gasol was +19 in that matchup tonight.

    54. Great point. Bynum’s length really disturbs Jefferson. And, as we have seen recently, Duncan. That’s a great thing to have.

  56. Let’s see what Bynum does in this road trip for us. Wouldn’t it be great if he is back were he was last year at this time… what was that?, 25 – 13 or something, with a few blocks thrown in per game with many altered shots of course.

  57. Kendrick Perkins won’t get suspended because it wasn’t a dirty play. He’s just tough. Unlike the Lakers. When they play tough its a dirty play.

  58. It’s safe to say Drew is finally fully healed. Just as little as a few weeks back Drew was still having trouble elevating and finishing around the rim. I wonder what clicked all of a sudden for him, because he’s back to catching lobs, actively moving on both ends, and finishing with authority.

  59. 59. Don’t you get the feeling that it is more confidence than anything? That his knee was fine a month ago, but he didn’t trust it and himself yet?

  60. I don’t understand how Drew can almost shoot downward as he turns to his right toward baseline from the right block when he’s not getting much lift in his turn. I guess the boy is THAT LOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG! When he makes that quick move after hitting a couple of hooks going to the middle, there’s no way anyone can stop him without fouling him. It’s such a contrast between that move and Shaq’s turnaround jumpshot which he rarely hit. It’s also nice to have BIGS who can shoot FTs well.

  61. Drew is amazing me everyday. Is it fair to have him and gasol on the same team??

  62. PeanutButterSpread January 31, 2009 at 3:04 am

    I watched kendrick perkins’ flagrant foul and felt that foul was more malicious than drew’s foul on gerald wallace even though wallace’s injury ended up more serious. But perkins intentionally threw the other player to the ground with his arm around his neck and then afterward when the guy was down, stood over him.

    I don’t understand how perkins can foul like that and no one in the national media (or any other bloggers) are calling for his head and calling him a dirty player.

    Drew rotated too late, tried to stop Wallace but with Wallace’s motion and inertia going at full speed, ended up causing Wallace’s lung to collapse. He definitely, though, didn’t want to hurt Wallace and the fact that he stood outside the Bobcat’s bus to apologize to not only Wallace but to Larry Brown, definitely is not the sign of a dirty player.

    Dirty players don’t apologize for injuring another player. They take satisfaction in seeing someone go down. How anyone can believe Drew could be like that, when he hasn’t had a history of this type of play? It was a freak accident and should be treated as such.

    But whatever, if this makes the Lakers more “tough” or something, the better … but I guess instead of being the grit it out tough, they’re going to be labeled as the dirty backhanded “tough” … yay?

  63. Basically, about a year ago, we got this guy named Pau Gasol………..to be on our team. Now that was great, but we were missing big Bynum due to injury. People speculated, somehow, as to whether or not they could play together…Well, I guess we’re finding out by the day, and I don’t want to jinx a dang thing, but this is what I was looking forward to the whole past year.

    The kind of high post (pau gasol) and low post (AB) game you can expect from a triangle offense with the leagues most explosive player (that’d be the Mamba). Long story short, we may be on the brink of something real special…….and I imagine we are all feeling the same anticipation

  64. I only caught the last 8 minutes of the game, but looking at the box score, it seemed the Lakers D was decent holding Minny to 43% shooting and 27% from. But there were too many offensive rebounds. Was the high score from so many offensive rebounds and the number off positions (almost 100 shots which is really high)?

  65. Minny wanted to score tonite and we had some lapses on the offensive end. That is the main reason the number of possessions was high. When the other team wants to get in a track meet the Lakers usually oblige. The problem comes when we want to run and the other team is tough defensively – then the team remains close into the 4th and we have to execute lockdown defense.

  66. Adam T: I totally agree. The sky is the limit for this offence, and if Bynum continues his play as of late – the D should be in pretty good shape as well.

    Offensively, the only thing I’d want is actually for the Lakers to feed the ball inside even more. I do realize that this is alot to ask when you have the game’s most skilled player on the perimeter, but the inside game is amazingly effective right now. Drew is shooting lights out, and even when Pau doesn’t have his best nights, he still draws fouls all the time and makes great passes out of the post.

    For tonight’s game I’m hoping that we will not see Kobe or Pau for more than three quarters.

  67. thanks!