By: Dan Slaubaugh
Saturday night, the Minnesota Timberwolves were in Winnipeg, Canada to face the Chicago Bulls in the first game of the NBA Canada Series. Ricky Rubio was unavailable, for the 2nd straight game, due to precautionary reasons for his right quad strain. Andre Miller was also unavailable (personal reasons), so Tyus Jones and Lorenzo Brown would have to log heavy minutes for the night. Lorenzo started, while Tyus came off the bench.
The first quarter was once again atrocious for the Wolves defensively, giving up 34 points consisting of way too many uncontested looks for the Bulls. I'm not sure I can pick out 1 player who was terrible defensively -- they were all just terrible together. I should say Chicago started out 2-9 in the first quarter -- but from then on the D struggled. Midway through the first, the Bulls were already 4-8 from outside the line. Most of those shots were uncontested. I would love to say that the Wolves were better on the offensive side of the ball, but they weren't. The offense was a jumbled mess, the spacing was bad, and there were too many clusters. In the first 5 minutes of action, Minnesota had just 2 total points and were 0-8 from the field. At the end of the first quarter, the Wolves were 3-17 from the field and trailing 34-16.
The 2nd quarter was much better offensively, particularly because of Tyus Jones, who led the Wolves with 16 points in 6 second quarter minutes. In fact, he was so good, that he accounted for 24 of the Wolves 26 points. The defense was still bad, but not as bad giving up 31 points in the quarter. Minnesota outscored Chicago 39-31 in the second quarter.
The Wolves started out the 3rd quarter just like they had started out the first, terrible spacing and too many clusters. Midway through the third, Karl-Anthony Towns achieved his first career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Minnesota's offense started to flow a little better towards the middle-end of the 3rd, with good ball movement leading to open shots, resulting in buckets.
Minnesota was down by 12 heading into the 4th quarter and could never come within 7 points, resulting in a 114-105 loss. Bazz and Wiggins started to pick things up in the 4th quarter, which was nice to see, but Wiggins needs to learn to have an aggressive mentality the whole game, not just when he wants to.
Pretty poor performances from Andrew so far in the preseason. Needs to be reminded that he is their guy and he needs to act, and play like it. Needs to go 100% at all times. He has it in him, someone (KG?) just needs to get it out of him.
Kevin Garnett and Tayshaun Prince
Grouping these players together simply because they are in a similar situation as far as preseason minutes go. Garnett finished 2 points, 4 rebounds in 10:31 minutes of action. Tayshaun didn't make much of an impression positively or negatively. He had 1 rebound.
Another strong game for KAT with 13 points and 10 rebounds. They're defensive struggles have to be incredibly frustrating for him, considering how dominant Kentucky was defensively last year. A little concerned about his foul rate, but nothing to worry too much about.
Has struggled throughout these first couple preseason games. I don't think it's an effort issue though, just forcing unnecessary shots and thinking too much. Needs to let the game come to him. The 4 rebounds and 3 assists are a positive though.
Has stayed very consistent through first couple games. Finished with 11 points and 9 rebounds in 17 minutes. Can pass and shoot with the best of 'em. The only flaw I have found is that he doesn't always shoot when he is open because he's such a team player, needs to because he is such a dang good shooter.
Had nice stretch in 2nd quarter while in with Tyus. I try not to over-analyze on Kmart because we know who he is and what he will bring to the table.
The most impressive player of the night was in fact Tyus, who finished just shy of a double-double (18 points, 9 assists). Shot 5-9 from the field and 3-3 from behind the arc. Can tell his high basketball IQ is helping him translate to NBA game. Of course, this is just 1 preseason game, but it shows us what he is capable of.
That is all.
I'm officially a believer in Damjan Rudez. He's seriously awesome at what he does best, shooting. He cashed in on 3 triples again and should make the roster, bar a complete breakdown.
Productive night for Gorgui with 13 points and 3 rebounds. Finished in the plus column (+3) which is always a positive. Nobody ever has to tell him to go harder, play harder. He has 1 motor, which is something I love about him.
He passed the ball better, and also shot it a little better. Finished 4-8 from the field and 2-4 from behind the arc. His motor and driving ability were enough to make him a valuable offensive weapon last year. If he can improve his passing and shooting skills, it will only make him a more well-rounded player and that much more dangerous.
Didn't play a minute, and nobody seemed to care.
-Defense is going to struggle, and will take lots of time to improve.
-Shot 4-18 from 3 pt range vs OKC.
-Shot 11-21 vs. CHI, much of an improvement.
That's all I have for this one! The Wolves head to Toronto to face the Raptors Monday night at 6:30pm CT for the 2nd game of the NBA Canada Series.