Archive for the ‘ Minnesota T-Wolves Blog ’ Category

Timberwolves lose close game to Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers are considered one of the best teams in the Western conference, and the Minnesota Timberwolves probably deserve to be in that conversation as well. So this was an early-season matchup worth watching. Here’s how it went down, as per the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Kevin Love

In January 2012, the Timberwolves danced off the Staples Center floor while star Kevin Love raised his arms out in defiance after his long three-point shot beat the Los Angeles Clippers at the final buzzer before a national ESPN audience.

On Monday, he held his head with both hands in anguish after his tying putback layup at the rim came up short and bounced back to him to end a 109-107 loss to the Clippers at another final buzzer.

The night before inside the very same arena, the Wolves celebrated a rout of the once-mighty Lakers that ended a six-year, 22-game losing streak to the 16-time NBA champions.

This time, the Wolves rallied twice in the final five minutes against the new glamour NBA team in town only to watch their chance to force overtime disappear not once, but twice in the final two seconds when putback attempts by both Love and Nikola Pekovic wouldn’t go.

No, Kevin Love has no plans to retire from basketball and try this out, but Mavs coach Rick Carlisle is a fan of Timberwolves forward Kevin Love’s throwing arm. Here’s the Fort Worth Star-Telegram blog:

Kevin Love

From Rick Carlisle’s standpoint, Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love could probably have a pro career with the Minnesota Vikings if he wanted it.

“The guy can throw a chest pass 100 yards,” the Dallas Mavericks’ coach said after Friday’s shoot around. “He should be an NFL quarterback and can throw chest passes to the receivers.”

One player well known for his chest passes was Wes Unseld, who led the Washington Bullets to the 1978 NBA title. Carlisle sees some Unseld in Love.

“I remember Wes Unseld,” Carlisle said. “Unfortunately, that’s how old I am.”

The Philadelphia 76ers’ Michael Carter-Williams and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Kevin Love were today named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Tuesday, Oct. 29, through Sunday, Nov. 3.

Carter-Williams is only the second player (Shaquille O’Neal, 1992) to earn the honor to begin his rookie season. The 11th overall selection in the 2013 NBA Draft, Carter-Williams helped guide the Sixers to a 3-0 start, which included wins over the defending champion Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls. In his first three NBA games, Carter-Williams averaged 20.7 points and team highs of 9.0 assists and 4.3 steals. In his NBA debut on Oct. 30, a 114-110 home win over the Heat, Carter-Williams recorded 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals and seven rebounds. The nine steals were the most by a rookie in his NBA debut, while the 12 assists represented the second most for a player in his first NBA game (Buffalo’s Ernie DiGregorio dished 14 assists in his NBA debut in 1973).

Love led Minnesota to a 3-0 mark, the second time in franchise history the Timberwolves have opened the season with at least three straight wins. Love paced the team in scoring and rebounding each game, averaging a league-best 29.7 points and ranking with 4.7 rpg. He had at least 30 points and 15 rebounds twice, giving him 20 such games since entering the league in 2008-09, second over that span to Dwight Howard (23). In the team’s season opener Oct. 30 – a 120-115 overtime victory against the Orlando Magic — Love finished with 31 points and 17 rebounds, and sank the game-tying three-pointer to force overtime.

Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Orlando’s Arron Afflalo, Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge, Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, Indiana’s Paul George, Detroit’s Greg Monroe, and the L.A. Clippers Chris Paul.

InsideHoops.com photo of Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio shooting around before Sunday’s Wolves at New York Knicks game:

Ronny Turiaf

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that Ronny Turiaf underwent a MRI (Magnetic Resonance Image) this morning at TRIA Orthopedics in Bloomington, Minn. that revealed a radial head fracture of the right elbow. Turiaf will be re-evaluated later this week to determine an approximate time table for a return to the court.

Turiaf suffered the injury at the 10:17 mark of the second quarter during last night’s 100-81 Wolves win over Oklahoma City.

The Wolves are looking to do big things from now on. With health and continued improvement from young, talented players, they have the potential to rise up. Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Kevin Love

The Timberwolves spent $120 million last summer to add pieces around charismatic stars Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio in a league in which, more often than not, you only go as far as your best players take you.

They signed Corey Brewer for his energy and defense, Kevin Martin and Chase Budinger for their shooting and Nikola Pekovic for his muscle and low-post scoring, all in an attempt to finally reach the playoffs after a long decade away.

But if the Wolves indeed are headed that way for the first time since Kevin Garnett wore their uniform, it is Love and Rubio who will lead them with a two-man game — part old-school sensibilities, part new-school invention — that unsolicited teammates and opposing NBA coaches compare to a modern Stockton-Malone combination.

“That’s a pretty bold statement,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said, taken aback at the mention of the Utah Jazz greats, point guard John Stockton and power forward Karl Malone. “I coached against those guys and those are two Hall of Famers who played together for 18 years. They invented, I guess, the pick-and-roll between the two of them.”

Ricky Rubio

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has exercised its fourth-year options on guard Ricky Rubio and forward Derrick Williams.

Rubio, the fifth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, joined the Wolves in 2011-12 and has played 98 games with the club. He holds career averages of 10.7 points, 7.7 assists and 2.3 steals per game, including setting the franchise single-season steals mark last year (2.40 spg). As a rookie in 2011-12, Rubio was named to NBA’s All-Rookie First Team after averaging 10.6 points, 8.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game.

Williams, the second overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, has appeared in 144 games (71 starts) with the club, holding career averages of 10.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. Williams started 56 games in 2012-13 and averaged 14.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in 40 games (all starts) over the last three months of the season.

Timberwolves waive center Chris Johnson

Timberwolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has waived center Chris Johnson. The Wolves roster now stands at 15 players.

Johnson, 28, played in two preseason games this season and averaged 2.0 points and 1.5 rebounds per game. He was originally signed by the Wolves to a 10-day contract on January 19, 2013 before being signed to a second 10-day contract on January 29. Johnson was signed for the remainder of the 2012-13 season on February 8. He appeared in 30 games with the Wolves last season and averaged 3.9 points and 2.0 rebounds in 9.5 minutes per contest.

Good three-point shooting opens up the paint area for inside players. Generally, the further a team can stretch the defense, the better. Here’s Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

kevin martin

Last season, the Wolves made only 30.5 percent of their threes. This preseason, with Kevin Love back healthy and Kevin Martin brought aboard, they made 37.6 percent and weren’t shy doing it.

“I don’t mind that if they’re good shots,” coach Rick Adelman said, referring to the 62 threes his team tried on consecutive nights. “I don’t mind that at all. We had some good looks at it. There’s where the ball is going to go.”

The ball in Adelman’s offense is going to find Martin and Love — deft shooters both — beyond the arc, and it’s going to find Rubio, too.

If Rubio makes enough to keep opposing defenses honest — and Thursday’s 15-point performance was more than that — it just might define the team’s upcoming season.

Ricky Rubio

The Wolves will pick up Derrick Williams’ $6.7 million contract option for 2014-15 and do the same with Ricky Rubio’s $5 million option as well, a team source confirms.

The decision on Rubio’s contract before next week’s season opener is nothing but a formality.

The Williams’ decision pretty much was one, too, despite all the Internet chatter whether they’d really commit to another contract that could leave them fairly handcuffed right near the luxury tax.

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Blog)

Derrick Williams

Derrick Williams’ $6.3 million option for 2014-15 will be exercised, Wolves owner Glen Taylor confirmed to 1500ESPN.com contributor Darren Wolfson.

Williams’ future with the Minnesota Timberwolves has been a lingering storyline throughout the preseason. For now, at least one question surrounding Williams has been answered.

The former 2011 No. 2 overall draft pick is on tap to make just more than $5 million this season. His seven-figure raise next year will put the Wolves very close to the league’s luxury tax.

Reported by Nate Sandell and Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com

One of the biggest things a coach has to do before the start of the season is figure out his rotation:

It’s the start of the Wolves’ final three preseason games in the next five days and a Sunday night during which Rick Adelman will continue to search for answers at small forward.

Right now, he sounds like a confused man.

He started Derrick Williams at that spot tonight and said he might start somebody else there Wednesday in Philadelphia and perhaps somebody else again on Thursday in Detroit.

That list of somebodies includes Othyus Jeffers, Robbie Hummel and Shabazz Muhammad.

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

The good news is, the rest of the starting Wolves lineup appears pretty solid.

AJ Price

Price was invited to training camp partly because of his connection with new Wolves General Manager Milt Newton from the season they spent together in Washington a year ago, partly because of three seasons with the Pacers and one with the Wizards. And partly because of two transformational years in college when he went two seasons without basketball because of complicated brain surgery and his own decisions.

At age 27, he is trying to stay in the NBA with an opportunity he admits was the only real one that didn’t involve playing overseas. He is competing with fellow veteran Othyus Jeffers and rookies Lorenzo Brown and Robbie Hummel for the team’s final two jobs because of what Adelman calls his professionalism and Price himself attributes to life’s lessons learned.

Price missed two collegiate seasons after his freshman year at Connecticut when he was diagnosed with a condition that entangles brain arteries and veins and required that surgery he credits with saving his life after his brain hemorrhaged. While he recovered, Price and a teammate were suspended by the school for a season for their involvement in trying to sell stolen laptop computers.

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Raised in Senegal and now pursuing his professional life in America, Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng speaks five languages, and another one that Rick Adelman and any other coach understands.

During rookie karaoke night at training camp in Mankato last week, he stood on a chair and sang Happy Birthday to head athletic trainer Gregg Farnam in English, French and his native Wolof without ever demonstrating his knowledge of either Italian or Spanish.

During preseason games against Toronto and Milwaukee this week, he showed, even given his rookie status and late start in the game, he’s fluent in basketball.

“He’s a smart player,” Adelman said. “It doesn’t take long watching him to see that he knows how to play.”

Dieng is just 23 and didn’t seriously start playing the game until he was a teenager, but maybe there’s a reason his given name means “old man” in his native language.

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Wolves guard Kevin Martin is day-to-day

Wolves guard Kevin Martin is day-to-day

The Wolves will play on tonight in Sioux Falls, S.D., against the Bucks without starting shooting guard Kevin Martin, who played just six minutes last night in Toronto because of a sore Achilles.

Martin calls himself day to day, but I’ll bet you he doesn’t play Saturday against the Raptors in a rematch at Target Center, either.

The Wolves don’t play for another eight days after Saturday, so that would give him a good 10 days to rest and heal his body.

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

The last thing anybody, particularly Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman, wanted from Monday night’s preseason opener was overtime. So when it came with a 108-106 loss to CSKA Moscow at Target Center, the best Adelman could call it was a “good teaching experience” for his players young and old alike.

From his starters, he wanted better professionalism on a night when his team fell behind by 18 points in the second quarter and led by four points late, long after his first unit went to the bench for the night.

From second-year guard Alexey Shved, he wanted better decision-making than the silly foul he committed with 7.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter that sent CSKA Moscow guard Milos Teodosic to the free-throw line for two shots that forced overtime.

And from forward Derrick Williams, he wants two hands on the ball when the game’s on the line.

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Timberwolves want Alexey Shved to show his love of the game more

Riffing off a theme, new Timberwolves center Ronny Turiaf spends his days, among many other things, urging teammate Alexey Shved to smile more.

Last season, TNT’s wired microphone caught Ricky Rubio imploring Shved to “Change your face, be happy, enjoy it” coming out of a timeout in a video snippet that careened around the Internet.

Now Turiaf unknowingly has joined the chorus, encouraging the second-year Russian guard to play with more joy and less concern for his errors while coach Rick Adelman just wants Shved to become more “engaged” when he’s playing off the ball.

“If Alexey smiles, everything else takes care of itself,” Turiaf said. “If he doesn’t smile, he’s a different player.”

Much has changed for Shved since a rookie season in which his ball-handling and playmaking tantalized at times. But as plain as day, he also slammed into that rookie wall in the final months during a year when he played more minutes than anyone imagined.

Now he is a year wiser and stronger — “I make muscles,” he says — even if the wiry 6-6 combo guard still weighs the same starting a season when he no longer has fellow countryman Andrei Kirilenko by his side.

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Timberwolves trying to improve their defensive communication

The Timberwolves broke training camp Friday afternoon with coach Rick Adelman grateful that his team survived four demanding workouts without a significant injury but concerned about his best players’ defensive focus.

“We’ve known from the very beginning that we have a lot of offensive players, and their concentration is at that end,” Adelman said. “Their concentration has to be at both ends. You can drill on them everything in the world, and when they’re drilling, they’re fine. As soon as they get on the court, their concentration starts slipping. I’d say most of it is mental, and it’s something as soon as we start playing other teams, we’re going to find out real quick.”

Adelman and his coaches spent four days instructing their players on such complexities as proper positioning and rotations and preaching a basic such as urging them to communicate better on the court.

“You have to talk on the court,” Adelman said. “Every coach you talk to, their guys don’t talk enough. They get in the locker room and they talk all the time, but on the court, they don’t. That’s just the way it is. The good defensive teams talk. That’s one of the reasons [Kevin] Garnett has been so effective here and in Boston. He’s very vocal and helps his teammates out. We’ve got to get our guys to do that.”

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Rubio reaches a recovery milestone: He dunks

While peers Chase Budinger and Russell Westbrook returned to operating rooms this week for repair on knees previously operated upon, Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio demonstrated in a small way Thursday that his own recovery progresses.

He dunked.

It was a simple one-hander before the start of Thursday’s training camp practice, but it was a dunk nonetheless. It also is a sign of progress that had been more than a year coming since he underwent March 2012 surgery to repair two torn knee ligaments.

“I’ve been working this summer, finally I can dunk,” he said. “I could never jump too high, but at least I could dunk before the injury. This summer is the first time I dunked. It wasn’t easy, but I could.

“I’m dunking. But only in warm-ups, not in games yet.”

Reported by Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Timberwolves add A.J. Price to training camp roster

The Minnesota Timberwolves today finalized the team’s 2013-14 training camp roster by signing free agent A.J. Price. Today’s signing completes the Wolves training camp roster, which stands at 18 players. Minnesota’s training camp is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 1 - Friday, Oct. 4 at Bresnan Arena in the Taylor Center on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Price, 26, spent the 2012-13 season with the Washington Wizards where he averaged career-highs with 7.7 points, 2.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 57 games (22 starts). He was drafted by Indiana in the second round (52nd overall) of the 2009 NBA Draft and played three seasons with the Pacers. In 2011-12, Price appeared in 44 games, averaging 3.9 points and 2.0 assists. He played in 50 games in 2010-11, averaging 6.5 points and 2.2 assists. In his rookie season, Price averaged 7.3 points and 1.9 assists in 56 games.

Price played three years at the University of Connecticut, compiling career averages of 13.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.7 assists. In 2007-08, Price started all 33 games at point guard and was UConn’s second leading scorer. He was named to the U.S. Basketball Writers Association’s All-America Team, the First Team All-BIG EAST squad and also selected as USBWA District Player of the Year. In his final season with the Huskies, Price was the Huskies’ leading scorer with 14.7 ppg. In the 2009 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament he was named Most Outstanding Player in the West Region.

Price’s signing brings the Wolves training camp roster to 18 players. The Wolves will open training camp tomorrow at Bresnan Arena in the Taylor Center on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato.

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