February 13, 2018, 11:33 pm
There’s no shame is losing to the Houston Rockets. They’re arguably the one team with a legitimate chance of overthrowing the Warriors to represent the Western Conference in the Finals. Their offense is relentless, potent and deflating. Their defense can get consistent stops when it needs to.
The Wolves fared admirably in this contest. They only led for about 18 total minutes, the first 18 minutes of the game, but managed to stick around with the Rockets for the majority of the game, typically within 10 points and often within five.
Minnesota was doing about as good of a job slowing down Houston’s offense as one could ask for, especially given the shambles their own defense has been in of late. The Wolves were still giving up 3-pointers, but at a reasonable clip of just 33 percent at halftime, 7-of-21 overall.
The defense somewhat held together in the third quarter, though showed signs of leaking after the Rockets scored 30 points. The Wolves were hanging right in there though, trailing by just four points.
Every blow Houston was giving to Minnesota they just dealt right back. It wasn’t a signature high-scoring affair that was anticipated, but both teams were playing well and exciting basketball.
Then the fourth quarter happened.
In a four point game with 7:40 remaining the Rockets dealt their ultimate knockout punch. It was a rapid fire barrage from deep, four consecutive 3-pointers within 1-minute 50-seconds. Ryan Anderson kicked it off with back-to-back makes, followed by a P.J. Tucker corner job off an offensive rebound capped off by a deep Harden trey.
Suddenly the Wolves were down 16 points and utterly defeated. They tried to muster up some energy but the relentlessness of the Rockets was just too much to withstand. The team started trading two’s for three’s and the deficit wasn’t closing whatsoever.
In the second half the Rockets shot 15-26 from deep and 9-of-15 in the fourth. The Wolves shot 6-of-23 for the entire game.
Throughout the contest, the Wolves did a fine job of defending and preventing the Rockets from getting into a grove like they did in the fourth. They avoided the quick strikes and flood of points and it kept their deliberate, two-point based offense in the game an able to strike.
When that changed in an instant, all was lost. The Wolves don’t have the firepower to keep pace with a run like that, and they don’t have the defense to be able to get enough stops in a row to reach it conventionally.
The Wolves have fared okay versus teams that shoot the deep-ball well. Versus the top-8 3-point shooting teams in the Western Conference (eight because eight playoff teams), the Wolves are 15-6. Against the top-10 overall 3-point shooting teams, the Wolves are just 9-11. Against the most important top-2 teams though, they’re 0-4.
The Wolves had a couple of tremendous individual performances. Karl-Anthony Towns and Jeff Teague were the leaders in this contest, combining for 60 points.
Towns led with 35 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, one steal, three blocks and two 3-pointers. He shot 12-of-16 from the field, 2-of-3 from the arc and 9-of-9 from the line. He was a beast and wasn’t fazed by Capela at all, much like their last meeting.
Teague went for 25 points, eight assists, five rebounds and two 3-pointers on 10-of-15 shooting overall, 2-of-3 from the arc and 3-of-3 at the line. The Rockets didn’t seem to gameplan for him that much and he took advantage of some overplaying on the perimeter by driving into the lane. Capela was glued to Towns so he had an easy time.
The same cannot be said for Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins, who each had poor overall games.
Butler had 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists, but shot only 5-of-13 overall and 0-of-3 from the arc. Wiggins was a brutal 2-of-14 for seven points, three rebounds and one block. He made his last two shots, the first coming with 4:05 left in the game.
This game is less disappointing in itself, but more so on the broad spectrum. The teams played an entertaining game and the ultimate loss is nothing to be ashamed of given the Rockets’ overwhelming skill. That is what makes the grand picture more disappointing, though, at the same time.
The Wolves have now played four games against the Rockets and Warriors, and the gap between them and the Wolves is so incredibly wide with little moves to be had to close it. The expectation to compete at the level was certainly, from an outsider’s point of view (that is not the team’s), not there. Many knew the Wolves weren’t going to be at that level.
With that in mind it’s important to appreciate the greatness on display and, despite the Wolves not being there just yet, have reason to believe that they can attain that level themselves down the road.
The Wolves certainly have the talent to do so, all they need is time.
Up next they’ll close out the unofficial “first half” before the All-Star break by hosting the Lakers. The Wolves broke their 13-game home win streak tonight, so they’ll look to start another up.
May 27, 2020, 9:06 pmAndre IguodalaSF, Miami Heat
Andre Iguodala returned to South Florida after living in California since the NBA season was suspended.
Iguodala returning to the market where his team is could mean that he believes team workouts will begin soon. However, there is no official timetable on when team workouts will begin and Jimmy Butler has yet to return to Miami.
Source: Ira Winderman on Twitter
May 27, 2020, 7:52 pmZach LaVineSG, Chicago Bulls
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported that the Bulls were cleared by the Governor of Illinois and are in talks with city officials to open practice facilities on Friday for voluntary workouts that would follow the NBA guidelines.
The NBA's guidelines currently state that a maximum of four players are allowed in the facility at any given time and there can only be one player per hoop. The Bulls are currently eight games behind the Orlando Magic for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls may not play again this season given how far behind they are in the standings and the recent reports of proposals to not continue the regular season.
Source: K.C. Johnson on Twitter
May 27, 2020, 7:08 pmLuka DoncicPG-SF, Dallas Mavericks
Marc Stein of the New York Times has reported that the Mavs plan to open their practice facility on Thursday.
This news would make the Mavs the 23rd team to have their facilities open for "voluntary and socially distanced player workouts". Continue to monitor the wire as we should learn more about the potential of the league resuming in early June.
Source: Marc Stein on Twitter
May 26, 2020, 10:07 pmKawhi LeonardSF, Los Angeles Clippers
On Tuesday afternoon, AmicoHoops reported (via Twitter) that an unidentified NBA GM told them the league has seriously discussed resuming the current NBA season on Wednesday, July 22.
Nothing has been officially announced, by any means, and this is the first we've heard of specific target date(s) from anyone. It's looking like the continuation of the season will occur in Orlando at Walt Disney World at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, which has accommodations for at least some of what the NBA has planned for a resuming activity. As we have relayed numerous times recently, the next week or two seem to be a likely window for some decisions from Adam Silver and Co. at the NBA league office to start to come down. Stay tuned, hoops fans.
Source: AmicoHoops on Twitter
May 26, 2020, 8:47 pmDamian LillardPG, Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard announced on Tuesday evening that, in the event of a continuation of the NBA season, he would not be participating if the Blazers are scheduled to play 'meaningless games' with no shot at making the playoffs.
"If we come back and they're just like, 'We're adding a few games to finish the regular season,' and they're throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don't have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I'm going to be with my team because I'm a part of the team. But I'm not going to be participating," Lillard told Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday morning. It's hard to blame him, as it is quite easy to see the potential situation from his point of view. There have been countless scenarios tossed around by the league office during the pandemic period, but nothing is set in stone so far. Lillard, for his part, is only interested in returning to action if there exists a legitimate shot for his Blazers to reach the NBA Finals. Fair enough.
Source: Yahoo! Sports
May 26, 2020, 8:34 pmJoel EmbiidC, Philadelphia Sixers
The Sixers, who have their practice facility located in nearby Camden, NJ, will allow voluntary player workouts at the facility beginning on Wednesday, raising the number of NBA teams who have been able to do so to 22.
The Celtics, Knicks, Bulls, Pistons, Wizards, Mavericks, Spurs and Warriors are the final teams remaining who are unable to return to their practice facilities. The NBA seems to be inching ever so close to, at the very least, announcing a plan for a continuation of the current season. This next week or two should be very eventful on that front.
Source: Marc Stein on Twitter
May 26, 2020, 8:26 pmClint CapelaC, Atlanta Hawks
Hawks GM Travis Schlenk indicated on Tuesday that Clint Capela (right heel, plantar fasciitis) could very well play in the event of an NBA restart.
"Clint [Capela] says he's feeling better, and there's a possibility that we can get him back on the court," Schlenk said in a phone interview with ESPN. "Practicing and playing five games would be valuable to us." Capela has yet to see the floor for the Hawks since he was acquired at the deadline from the Rockets, and one would have to surmise that he would be under a heavy minutes restriction if the league resumes and if the Hawks deem him healthy enough to give it a go. Still two big "ifs," but this is obviously positive news for the Hawks and potentially for fantasy owners who have managed to stash Capela in an injury slot this long.
May 26, 2020, 8:17 pmMohamed BambaC, Orlando Magic
Magic center Mo Bamba said on Tuesday that he's spent the quarantine period bulking up, self-proclaiming that he's put on close to 30 pounds of muscle.
Bamba said of his time off, ""I’ve worked my tail off during this quarantine. This is going to sound weird, but I put on probably about 28 pounds since quarantine (started)." He laughed and added that only about 2.5 percent of the weight he's put on is body fat. Bamba, along with many other NBA players, "can’t wait to get back out there and work" which is a great sign for the Magic and their fans. Jonathan Isaac is becoming more and more of a potential option for the team when/if the season is resumed as the days pass, so his presence would limit Bamba's chances on the offensive end of the floor. The team has yet to decide whether or not they want to play Isaac at all the rest of the season, regardless of the rumblings about a restart from the league office. However, this bulk-up on Bamba's part is nonetheless pretty impressive and is certainly noteworthy.
May 25, 2020, 3:16 pmTerry RozierPG, Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets are the latest team to re-open their facilities, with the Novant Health Training Center set to open up on Tuesday.
With this, there are only eight teams left to open their practice courts back up, though nobody has been able to engage in any sort of team work yet. Individual workouts are better than no workouts, however, and the league appears to be getting its ducks in a row in terms of returning to play. There's still no firm timelines but things do appear to be heading in the right direction.
Source: Charlotte Hornets
May 25, 2020, 3:13 pmJon LeuerPF, Milwaukee Bucks
Jon Leuer has announced his retirement from basketball.
Injuries completely destroyed Leuer's career, as he played in a combined 49 games over the previous two seasons with zero appearances in the 2019-20 campaign. Leuer's high point came with the Suns, where he averaged 8.5 points to go with 5.6 rebounds, 0.6 steals, 0.4 blocks and a 38.2 mark from deep. His eight-year career comes to an end, with Leuer saying that his body simply won't let him play at a high level anymore.
Source: Jon Leuer on Instagram