Monday, January 2, 2012

No Country for Old Men

The Minnesota Timberwolves remain undefeated in 2012, beating a San Antonio team whose Spurs don't jingle-jangle-jingle like they used to. The Timberwolves starting unit played its best game, and the Spurs lost Manu Ginobli to a hand injury in the 2nd quarter. The final score was 106-96, here's the box score.

<-- I'm too old for this s**t.
(Photo: Jim Mone / Associated Press)

Yesterday, I wrote that I felt the Timberwolves had the more talented team coming into the game against the Dallas Mavericks. Tonight, again, the Timberwolves just looked bigger, badder and better than the largely-aging Spurs for almost the entirety of the game, with or without Ginobli. During the stretches where the Wolves couldn't find the bottom of the basket, they did a good job making sure the Spurs did not make up ground.

The starting lineup finally showed up tonight, with each starter putting up at least 10 points. The Wolves shot just over 57% from both the field, generally, and the three point line, and that includes a cold stretch at the end of the game where they didn't score from the 3:34 mark until the final buzzer. However, during that stretch, San Antonio only managed 2 points on 2 free throws.

Unless you were at Target Center tonight or otherwise taking advantage of the NBA League Pass trial (or actually having NBALP), you were not able to see the game. Other than a few instances of poor shot selection and 19 turnovers (which I would discuss more if the Spurs were able to actually capitalize on them), the Wolves didn't leave much to knit-pick. Again, they were the bigger, better, badder team, and they acted like it throughout the game. Given the toll the condensed season is going to have on some the aging Western Conference powers, and the skill, youth and athleticism of our squad, I think we might need to raise the bar a little on expectations this season. The only game the Wolves deserved to lose was the Milwaukee game (which they almost won), and if they had capitalized on a few free throws (the Wolves are currently ranked 24th in FT%), this team would have knocked off Miami and Oklahoma City.

Some observations:

1) Kevin Love puts up another 24 points and 15 rebounds, just another day at the office. Based on his body language during the game, I'm not sure Tiago Splitter wants to see too much more of Mr. Love. I mentioned this in the first preseason game review, but Love's three-point shooting looks very natural this season. As will be brought up often, the front office needs to lock this guy up if he's willing.

2) I was all-around pleased with Beasley's play, but it's clear the finger injury affected his game. His shooting looked the same, but he handled the ball like Wally Szczerbiak at times, and dropped passes like Troy Williamson.

3) I've written multiple times that Wes Johnson needs to (a) get himself open and (b) hit the open shots when the ball swings his way to have success in this league. He did both tonight and played decent defense. I hope to see more of this from Mr. Johnson.

4) This paragraph is both praise for Darko's play and delight at finally watching Tim Duncan struggle. As a fan who always rooted for KG back in his prime, nothing was more frustrating than watching Tim Duncan play flawlessly at Target Center. I always told people that if they thought the Spurs were boring back in their contender days, they needed to watch them, and especially Tim Duncan, in person to see how great they, and he, played the game. Tim was dominated by Darko, and pretty much anyone he guarded and was guarded by, all night. He still looks like the same person, but he's certainly not the same player.

5) Sweetest play of the night came relatively early in the game. Alley-oop from Ricky Rubio to Derrick Williams, who caught it with his back to the basket and tossed in a reverse dunk.

6) Klondike Bar promotion is getting weaker and weaker. They tied two fans together with duck tape for a few quarters. They should have saved that tattoo for later in the season.

7) 4-4 for Loon's Nest air balls.

8) The crowd continues to dwindle slightly, but I still think we need the powers-that-be to partner up with a fast-food provider for some kind of promotion where we get some junk food for scoring at least 100 pts.

Two years ago Timberwolves-Grizzlies would be a laugher, but this could be a good gauge for the Timberwolves if Zach Randolph's injury isn't too serious. If the Grizzlies have to play without Randolph and continue to play with Conley, I would expect a Wolves victory. See you at Target Center Wednesday.


CRZ said...

Sadly, we're now two games in a row without hilarious tape of a Timberwolf with earphones on pretending to groove to the warmup music they haven't yet selected. I guess without Best Buy money, that gimmick might have finally bit the dust.

BUT! It was nice of them to bring back "When Doves Cry" for the opening tip after I complained about it to my wife yesterday.

Lastly, I'd say I missed the halftime weather segment but they were so half-assed last year that I kinda don't. (Still, I'd volunteer if they needed somebody.)

Kevin said...

Hate to nitpick a dominant performance vs the Spurs....but what was with Adleman's playing Love and Beasley the entire 2nd half? I attribute the lack of scoring at the end of the game to those two guys looking gassed at the end. Especially on the 2nd game of a back to back, I would expect a little more play from D-Will and perhaps AR in the early 4the early 4th quarter. BTW, I actually love being able to nitpick stuff after a win.

The Old Logo said...

CRZ - I liked when Best Buy used to give microwaves to people. It always happened in the second quarter, and I used to wonder what the heck they did with a microwave for the rest of the game (much less the rest of their lives).

Kevin - I find they're so much easier to write about when they're losing games! More material to work with. I agree that he maybe should have subbed some guys around, but I think he's done a decent job not running anyone into the ground so far. We'll have to keep an eye on it.