Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Timberwolves Drop Slopfest to Grizzlies

"It's one thing to hear about it [free-throw shooting] from your coach, but when your wife tells you it stinks, you tend to work on it."
--Orlando Woolridge

<--In honor of missed free throws, I give you a picture of free throw shooting prominently involving Michael Olowakandi. Who can miss a free throw? The Kandi-man can!

The Memphis Grizzlies solved the mystery of the 2012 Minnesota Timberwolves, handing the Wolves a 90-86 loss in a often rhythm-free game. For those interested in box scores where a team shoots 54.2% from the free-throw line, see a St. John the Baptist elementary school game from 1992, or see this game's here.

It started ugly for the Wolves, and even though they rallied to earn a lead in the 2nd half, this duckling didn't turn into a swan. Unlike the solid showings against the Mavs and Spurs, the starting lineup reverted back to 2011-mode, spotting the Zach Randolphless Grizzlies a 16-3 lead (which got as high as 15 points) before any reserves checked in. Our squad clawed back, and appeared to take some control in the third quarter, but ultimately did themselves in with poor play and, once again, extremely pathetic free-throw shooting. I don't use the word "pathetic" loosely. A home, NBA team of professionals shot 54.2% from the charity stripe. I don't really know what else to call that without resorting to profanity.

The Timberwolves had several factors in its favor coming in like (a) momentum coming off kicking the tail out of Dallas and San Antonio in consecutive games, (b) a day of rest without travel, and (c) a Memphis Grizzlies team that recently found out Z-Bo is out 6-8 weeks. However, instead of a win we have to tell the tale of a team that lost a game by four points and, in case you missed the part where I talked about free-throw shooting, missed 11 free throws (to Memphis' 4 missed FTs) and turned the ball over 7 more times. In a game where the teams shoot relatively the same rate from the field (MEM-41.2%, MN-40.2%) and shoot identical percentages from the three-point line (33.3%), those free-throws can really make a difference. Combine that with the effort needed to come back from 15 points, and you've got yourself the recipe for a tasty loss.

I hope the Timberwolves can take some frustration out on Friday against a Cleveland Cavaliers team they really have no business losing to.

Other observations:

1) To the casual NBA observer, Kevin Love put up another fantastic NBA performance with 27 points and 14 rebounds. However, this was easily his worst game of the season. Love appeared frustrated from the time he got his 2nd personal foul fairly early in the 1st quarter, and seemed off at several points in the game.

2) Ricky Rubio's minutes creeped into the 30s this game. Another double-digit assist effort (and double-double) from the young Spaniard. Coach Adelman stuck with a Rubio-Ridnour lineup for much of the 4th quarter.

3) Michael Beasley still appears at times to have issues handling the ball since his finger injury.

4) Darko (and company) did a great job on Marc Gasol tonight. Gasol only had 6 points on 3-11 shooting, and I recall two of those makes being very difficult hooks over Darko's outstretched arms.

5) Along with the Wolves "winning steak," we also saw the end of the Loon's Nest air balls; however, tonight's "shooter" selected the layup, so his standard miss is probably worse.

6) Unless the Klondike Bar promotion brings the heat, it will no longer be worthy of my 30 seconds or less of typing. Tonight's Klondike Bar recipient needed only wear a bear costume for a period of time.

7) WCCO Radio needs to check their spots. On the way home from downtown (10:00 PMish), I heard an advertisement for, "The Minnesota Timberwolves v. the Memphis Grizzlies, tonight at 7:00 PM on 830 WCCO radio."

Friday night marks the first time the Timberwolves play a team that they should handle easily in the Cleveland Cavaliers. See you Friday Night!


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