GH And Petey's Timberwolves Blog

Saturday, January 29, 2005

I'm Kevin Garnett, Bitch!

Last night's game was a very good sign that the Wolves are back. Although Utah's record is not very good, they're actually a pretty decent team. They started off the season quite well until AK-47 got hurt and then things fell apart for them. Now that AK's back, the Jazz should be a better team, though not really a title contender.

The Wolves offense started out slow (as has become tradition). Though this time was especially bad. They scored a season low 36 points in the first half. They didn't seem to be playing poorly, but they just couldn't seem to make an open shot. Even free throws seemed to be hard.

Despite this, I never really got the impression that the Wolves were being heavily out-played, but once the deficit got down to 16 points, I was about ready to turn off the TV. Then, somewhere during the 3rd quarter, things started to snap for the Wolves. All of a sudden we came storming back, and started making all the shots we had been missing the entire game. During the 4th quarter, KG just had this look in his eyes like he wasn't going to lose this game. He has the look like he would knock over an old lady in a wheelchair to get a rebound.

Now that the Wolves have their mojo working again, they have a rather tough schedule coming up during the next week with games against Sacto, Milwaukee, the Nashes, and the Rockets. The week will be a good test of how good we really are. There are still a couple of key issues facing the Wolves, a couple of which I will address here (and the rest will wait until next blog):

A Trade

Petey's been addressing this issue a little bit with possible trades that could go down. With the Wolves recent success, I'd say that a trade now seems less likely. It is still, of course, not out of the question. The Wolves have some pieces which don't really seem to fit into the puzzle the way we would want them to, and they still have some weaknesses. If the Wolves struggle during the next week, we might see them try to make a move. If they continue to dominate, I'd be very surprised if we tried to do anything.


Though he has officially been off of suspension for 4 games, last night was the first game in which he actually logged minutes. Between this year and next, he's eating up $11 million dollars of payroll. That's a ridiculous amount of money for somebody who's completely worthless. He came into the game for the first time and got an offensive rebound on the very first possession. Just as I had enough time to think "Maybe that time on the bench did him some good" he then committed an offensive foul and turned the ball over. I doubt any team (the Warriors?) would be stupid enough to trade for him, so it'll be up to Flip to try and find some way for Kandi to play well, though at this point, I'm not overly optimistic.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Trade Time

After the Timberwolves win over the hapless and hopeless Atlanta Hawks, Glenn talyor was asked about doing any trading before the deadline. His response was:

If there's something we see that will help our team, either this year or in the long run -- and it's probably more in the long run -- you would look at this thing.

Well, perhaps it should be reassuring that he has faith in the squad as is. The Wolves have strung together a decent win streak and look to be coming together a bit. But, they're beating mainly poor teams and barely doing so. I think a trade is in order before the February 24th deadline. The Twolves have been accused of having too much talent. More accurately, they have several players with big egos who all need the ball to be effective. This has created massive problems:
-- Sam is a shoot first point guard who plays on the ball and doen't distrubute effectively if his
-- Wally needs to regularly be fed the ball on breaks and in offensive sets -- he can be effective running his men around screens but doesn't seem to like to unless he'll get rewarded
-- Sprewell is a slasher who plays off of his own dribble
-- Troy Hudson comes off the bench for 20 minutes a night and his favorite play to run is calling his own number by jacking up an ill-advised three ball
-- KG is their best player and makes great decisions -- he is a great shooter and passer, definitely should be touching the ball every time down the court

The other thing worthy of note is outside of KG (the one 'ballhog' who should be ballhogging) none of these players are particularly good at D. I've been impressed with what I've seen from Wally and his effort at least -- but let's face it, he's never going to be all that great defensively. Spree used to be good but is getting punished due to aging or lack of motivation. Sam and Troy are bad defenders who seem to somehow be worse.

So, I'm going to do my best Peter Vescey impression and come up with a trade that most likely has zero chances of actually happening:

New York Knicks
Stephon Marbury (14.63 million)
Jerome Williams (5.6 million)
Nazr Mohammed (5.25 million)
Moochie Norris (3.85 million)

Minnesota Timberwolves
Latrell Sprewell (14.63 million)
Sam Cassell (6.25 million)
Ervin Johnson (5 million)
Troy Hudson (4.9 million)

The money should work out in this trade (30.7 million in Twolves salaries and 29.3 in Knicks salaries) although I admit to not knowing the full ins and outs of requirements.

I think Isiah wants to shake things up and is disappointed with Marbury (even though he has one of the most robust +/- ratios in the NBA) and wants some flexibility monetarily in the offseason (all but Sam's contract will come off the books). Meanwhile, the Twolves will unload three ball hogs for one ball hog, a solid center (who is still fairly young) a great team guy, energetic and atheltic defensive player (Jerome Williams) and one of the best cheerleaders in the league (Mooooochie!) who could be a very calming and good backup point for the second team -- he runs offenses better than Troy and can play some D.

I think Marbury wants to win finally and will be able to defer to (or form a partnership with) KG this time around. He plays much better D than Sam and with their new lineup, Wally is the third scoring option and/or comes off the bench for a nice punch. The Wolves will have better defenders on the court at all times and have a better situation at center as I think Nazr is significantly better than Ervin. The Wolves will have more selective outside scoring, better point guard and center play as well as a better defensive squad.

The downside here is there won't be great flexibility with their cap but I this team has all the right pieces.

Plus, there is also the added irony that Marbury and KG could combine to win a 'ship after so many years apart.

Stay tuned for more uninformed and off the cuff trade ideas Vescey-style in the next few days ...

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Look Out Western Conference, Here Come the Timberwolves

The Wolves took another solid step forward toward becoming the team everybody thought they could be. The would have been a blowout, had it not been for an absolutely horrendous 3rd quarter, during which the Wolves didn't make a field goal for the last 9:10.

But before I go any further, I've gotta give props to my boy Eddie G. Last night, he missed a triple-double by 3 blocks. This makes the seventh consecutive game where he's had at least 3 blocks. From

"I feel great with Eddie behind me," Hudson said, smiling. "When I get beat off the dribble, I'm like, so what? Eddie's going to block it."

This is sort of funny because it partially explains how Eddie's been able to get so many blocks. Troy is always getting beat off the dribble. I just hope it doesn't cause Troy to rely on Eddie too much.

Back to the game. In the first half, the Wolves looked absolutely amazing. Their offense was slow starting out (as has become tradition), but our defense was fantastic. Eventually, our reserves came in and helped us out. Before you knew it, we had a 14 point lead.

Then, the third quarter came around. It was painful to watch for a number of reasons. First, it was painful to watch us blow our huge lead and just not be able to score. Secondly, it seemed like a foul was called on almost every possession. It got to the point where you couldn't even breathe on the other team without being called for a foul.

This really slowed the pace of the game and played right into the Pistons hands. It's not because the Pistons are a particularly good free throw shooting team (Benny Wallace is shooting 42% on the season), but because it's the kind of pace the Pistons like to play. They like the slow half-court game where they can set up their defense. This means that when whenever the Wolves weren't at the free throw line, they were left to face the tough Detroit defense.

The other thing that really plagued the Wolves through the entire game was the offensive rebounding of the Pistons. On just about every missed shot, the Pistons seemed to have 2 or 3 guys there trying to collect the garbage. The way to try and counteract that is to fast break at every opportunity you get. It would have been nice to see the Wolves do more of that. Had they been able to, they probably would have won the game easily. The problem was, the Pistons were rebounding so well and so aggressively that it was hard for the Wolves to come up with a clean rebound. A lot of the rebounds they got were balls that they had to tip, or balls that got knocked out of bounds by the Pistons, which left plenty of time for Detroit to get back on defense.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Everybody, Back on the Bandwagon!

The Wolves had what very well might have been a statement win against Seattle, but it wouldn't have meant much if they had walked into Portland and shown the same lethargy they've shown through most of the first half of the season. Fortunately, they didn't. They came out and played hard-nosed intense basketball from start to finish (with only a small lapse during the 3rd quarter). A few things worthy of note:

Defense, Defense, Defense

The Wolves played probably their best defense of the season, holding the Blazers to only 83 points. The 26 points they gave up during the 3rd quarter can be largely attributed to sloppy offense, which lead to easy fast break opportunities. Other than that, the Wolves brought defensive intensity the whole game.

In the first quarter, KG caused what has to be the most errant layup I've ever seen in an NBA game. Ruben "The Rapist" Patterson was on a fast break coming down the left side of the court. KG stayed right with him the whole way. By the time he got to the basket, he was forced into trying to make a difficult shot with his left hand. He put the ball up and over the backboard--never coming anywhere near the basket. I laughed and laughed.


He's playing the best basketball right now that I've ever seen him play. The past few years when he's tried to put the ball on the floor he's been a liability to turn it over. This year, he's been much better. The main difference is that he's more decisive when he has the ball now. He's not jut dribbling around aimlessly looking for something to open up. He takes the ball and heads straight for the basket. If something goes wrong, he picks up the ball and shoots or passes it back out.

After the Sonics game, KG told Wally that he'd never seen him that aggressive. Me either.

Freddy Zoidberg

Remember how good he was at the beginning of the year and how everybody was talking about him? Then, his minutes started getting cut down and he became a non-factor. He seems to be making a comeback now, playing very solidly in his last two games. He played very well shooting 5-8 from the field and collecting 3 steals on defense, including a big hustle steal that helped us seal the deal. Something tells me after his performance tonight he'll be getting more minutes again.

I think Freddy is really good for what the Wolves need right now. He's a solid player who plays good defense. He's also fairly tall at 6'5". This helps with rebounding and also allows him to guard some bigger players. Unlike many of the Timberwolves players, he doesn't need to take a lot of shots, but he can hit the three when he's open. This type of player is exactly the kind of player the Wolves have been lacking.

The Bench and the Starters

It's funny how the Wolves used to have the problem with too many scorers in its starting lineup, and now the bench seems to have all of our scorers. With Cassell out and Sprewell ineffective, our starting lineup has been the defensively oriented Carter/Hassell /Sprewell /Garnett /Johnson. A very solid defensive lineup, but KG is pretty much the only scoring threat. Flip may have over-compensated slightly, but it should be quite well balanced once Sam gets back into the mix.

This leaves our bench to do the bulk of the scoring. Against Seattle they scored a franchise record 72 points and last night they scored 59. Funny how this has happened.