Category: 2012-2013 Game Previews

What Happened in Vegas: They Lost (And Game Preview)

This game was pretty forgettable as a whole. On the brightside they’re 0-2 against the D-League Select but 2-1 against everyone else. Really,  no one outside of Chris Johnson really stood out and was terrific at getting to the line again. Othyus Jeffers was pretty good still and so was John Holland, but no one else really stood out.

Robbie Hummel went 2-7. Welp.

Shabazz Muhammad shot 25 percent from the field tonight and some people are clamoring for his retirement. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t peak yesterday. Or at least I hope not. That wouldn’t be good.

Can we get more than four summer league games before holding a referendum on a player’s career?

No? Okayfinethenwhatever.

Really, you have to give the Select team some credit. They’re undefeated and beat the Timberwolves for the second time in five days, in part because they forced them into shooting 33.8 percent from the field and 26.7 percent from three. Despite also cutting back on their turnovers considerably, they still got beat on the glass, 47-38. Enabling the Select team to grab so many more defensive rebounds enabled them to prevent the Timberwolves getting any second chance points and also keeping them from building more momentum.

It may not have mattered if they had gotten more second chance opportunities given how the entire team struggled shooting, but it could have also given them some rhythm, which they desperately needed.

You Mean I Get a Preview, too? What Value!

Consequently, the Timberwolves will play the Portland Traiblazers team in the consolation bracket instead of the championship bracket. Which is a little unfortunate because it won’t start until 9:30pm central and I have no idea where it will air; NBA TV or ESPN 3 would be my guesses, though.

As for the Blazers, they lost again as well yesterday, this time to the Suns, giving them a 1-4 record. C.J. McCollum has starred for the Blazers with averages of 21 points per game, 4.0 rebounds per game and 3.4 assists for the the rookie guard (His averages are much more impressive if you don’t look at this shooting efficiency.) The Blazers are full of players like McCollum who have nice averages, like Will Barton and Thomas Robinson, but have not reached those marks efficiently.

I will not be there for this one since I will be in the air during game time on my way back to Minneapolis, which is disappointing because this week has been a blast. But you can still follow me on Twitter anyway and use other Timberwolves people who will be in attendance and giving live updates.

 

Happening in Vegas: Timberwolves vs D-League Select Preview

Well, it looks like our heroes have finally found that consistency in being able to play a complete game and not just three quarters after winning two straight games. It’s also no coincidence that Shabazz Muhammad played well as the Timberwolves rolled the Kings last night 92-54. From top-to-bottom the Wolves got valuable contributions from all over their roster.

The Timberwolves let their first game against the Select team get away from them as the D-League got off to an undefeated start. A big reason that game got away was the crazy amount of turnovers the Timberwolves committed that gave the Select team life after a slow start of their own, but they curbed them yesterday and won big time. The Select froncourt with be a source of contention for the Timberwolves given the production of Mickell Gladness and Darnell Jackson to this point. Additionally, Elijah Millsap, brother of Paul Millsap, is a 6-6 guard who is second on the team in scoring.

Tonight’s game is at 5:30pm and if they win they play the winner of Bobcats-Grizzlies at 5pm Saturday instead of the loser of Suns-Blazers on Friday at 7:30pm.

Once again, follow @DerekJamesNBA for live-tweets from media row and look for the recap following the game.

Happening in Vegas: Oh, We’re Playing Again Today

The tough thing about being in Las Vegas to cover summer league is that, for starter’s, you don’t know how long you’re going to have to cover a team, and secondly, after the preliminary games you don’t know when that team is playing. Fast forward to this morning and that’s exactly what happened to me when I awoke to the updated schedule. So, today is game day with the Timberwolves playing the Kings at 7pm CST. I highly doubt this will be televised, so I would recommend keeping Twitter close if you’d like to follow the game, though I’m sure it will re-air later on.

For going 1-2 in pool play the Timberwolves earned the 13th seed, which is second of all teams with the same record and differentiated by things like quarter-by-quarter scoring (You get points in the tournament for things like wins, obviously, but a half point for things like winning quarters, which the Wolves have; they’ve just blown a couple of late leads, which is somewhat advantageous.) The winner of this game will play the undefeated D-League Select team at 7:30 CST tomorrow evening.

The Select team was the team that also defeated the Timberwolves in their first game.

Ben McLemore is of course a player of interest for the Kings. However, before yesterday’s terrific perormance McLemore look lost; you could almost say he bough his game at a “Thrift Shop”…eh….eh? No? Okay then.

Ray McCallum has also looked good for the Kings. The guard has shot .444 percent through three games with averages of 14.3 points , 4.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.

As for the Timberwolves, they will need better from Shabazz Muhammad after yesterday’s win despite their victory. It looked like one of those days where nothing you throw up goes in, so this could very well be a return to the Shabazz that we saw against the Suns on Saturday.

I’m also counting on a Robbie Hummel redemption game today, as well as more strong play by Chris Johnson.

Additionally, while the Timberwolves have done a good job forcing turnovers, they really need to curb their own turnover issues. Through three games they are averaging 23 turnovers per game, which is in credible; the team finished with 28 alone yesterday. If they hope to play more games, enabling them to give their prospects more reps to grow with, then they need to take care of the ball better. Minnesota has lost momentum in each of their last games by giving up a couple of turnovers where the other team turns them around for easy baskets, and suddenly that once dormant team has found new life. Even things like Solomon Jones having three illegal screens on Saturday count and matter. In fact, Jones averaging 3.0 turnovers per game in 13 minutes per game is a big part of the problem, but he’s also far from the only one.

This may sound like a lot of thought put into a summer league, but it’s actually important. It matters to the Timberwolves and their future to get their prospects the developmental reps and it matters to the fringe players who aren’t just trying to woo NBA teams, but also those that are trying to impress D-League and overseas scouts also in attendance. So for guys like Lorenzo Brown, Demetri McCamey and John Holland, these games are huge for them, so that makes them a little more interesting.

Anyway, Timberwolves-Kings at 7pm CST. You can always follow along as I live-tweet from Cox Pavilion from @DerekJamesNBA or check the site following the game for my recap.

What’s Happening in Vegas: Miami Heat-Timberwolves Preview

All right, Timberwolves fans. Today is the day you’ve been waiting for. Yes, finally, today is the day that you can watch your favorite team on NBA TV at 3pm CST as they take on the Miami Heat (3-2). Like the Timberwolves, the Heat are coming off of a close loss on Sunday night to the Hawks. However, they’re not the ones coming off of a back-to-back– that’s the Timberwolves.

As for names to watch on the Heat Myck Kabongo was a draft pick in last month’s draft. You may also recognize forward Jarvis Varnando from such things as garbage time. Other than that, Anthony Marshall has played well at times, too.

The Timberwolves will be hoping to see Shabazz Muhammad strike that perfect balance between attacker and facilitator. Gorgui Dieng will look to have a better game than he did yesterday and it would be nice to see Chris Johnson utilized in ways that get him more involved in the offense. Demetri McCamey played well, which was fun, but the Timberwolves will be looking to see more from Lorenzo Brown and Brandon Paul continue to make their case to hang around.

You cannot forget about Robbie Hummel, either. He’s been by far the team’s most steady and productive player this summer league season, and you would love to see him continue to succeed in the hopes of hanging around with the Timberwolves next season.

Well it’s almost that time: time to get ready to head down to COX Pavilion to get ready for today’s tilt. Be sure to follow the @howlintwolf account or my account (@DerekJamesNBA) on Twitter as I’ll be live-tweeting from media row.

Report: Tracy McGrady Will Not Play Against the Timberwolves

This is the closest you’ll get to seeing T-Mac in a Spurs uniform. (Photo from DimeMag)

I know you were thinking it, because I was too. After finally winning 30 games again and getting win number 1,000 for Rick Adelman, there wasn’t much incentive left to watch the season finale other than not being able to watch Timberwolves basketball for another six months. Then the Spurs signed former scoring champ Tracy McGrady for the rest of the season and suddenly we had a reason. Or so we thought.

 

Aw, really Pop? How are you going to take this away from us? Yes, I know he hasn’t had a chance to get familiar with his teammates yet, but how many of us are really familiar with Aron Bynes? I mean, McGrady did play in China this season, so it’s not like he can be that out of shape, either. Maybe because he played in China means that you want to save him for the playoffs considering his injury history.

But the Timberwolves will get Manu for at least a little bit, who is returning from a nine game absence to probably play just enough to get a few game minutes and then rest. And you gotta figure that it would be more detrimental to the Spurs’ playoff chances if something happened to Manu versus McGrady.

Ok, so my whining won’t get McGrady onto the court tonight, but Manu in, T-Mac out for in San Antonio as the Timberwolves close out their season.

The Relocation Two-Step: Timberwolves at Kings Preview

David Stern and Glen Taylor saved professional basketball in Minnesota. Now, the Kings are hoping for a similar miracle in Sacramento.

Where: Sleep Train Arena; Sacramento, CA

When: 9pm CST (Wait– I can watch? Hell yeah!)

See It: LOL NO

Hear It: WCCO AM 830

In 1994, our very own Minnesota Timberwolves were in trouble. The city of Minneapolis had just built the Target Center four years prior, but the current ownership of Marv Wolfenson and Harvey Ratner wanted out from under the $73 million mortgage, because, as it turns out, new arenas are expensive. This was suddenly a tense time for the Minnesota sporting amalgamate as they had just lost the NHL North Stars to Dallas a few years before, and losing the Timberwolves after just five years would’ve made them look like the guy who can’t hold down a girlfriend from one reason or the other.

At any rate, Harv and Marv wanted out from the remaining balance on the mortgage, and with cities like New Orleans and Nashville pining for a team, they were likely to be relocated if the team were sold to a new ownership group.

In not an unsurprising manner, when they state stepped in to bailout Harv and Marv, the fans stood against the measures with 60% of the public that were polled did not want the state to use public funds to pay off the debt on the Target Center. Which was fantastic because the New Orleans ownership group Top Rank had submitted a letter of intent to purchase the team and move them down to the bayou.

However, the support slowly began to get behind the state’s intervention, and Nashville’s Gaylord Entertainment group made essentially a $100 million dollar offer with 20% of that going to pay down the debt on the arena. With the condition that the group keep the team in the state for thirty years, this became the favorite offer. This was around the same time the city of Nashville was also trying to woo the New Jersey Devils to the city in an attempt to desperately secure a professional sports team in the state, too (It wouldn’t be long before the Oilers would relocate to Tennessee either.) Shortly after the Minnesota legislature approved a $48 million dollar bill that purchased the arena, so long as they could find a local ownership group to match Top Rank’s $152 million dollar offer.

But they couldn’t, and later that May the sale was approved and professional basketball’s days in Minnesota were seemingly numbered.

However, just three weeks later after questions about their financing and where they would play home games, the league blocked the sale. Turns out the league was wary of a group attempting to purchase of team where a third of their offer comes from “undisclosed sources”. Say what you will about David Stern, but he did act as mediator and in acting the best interest of the league he did stop the team from heading to New Orleans. Shortly after this the league filed an injunction against the transfer of the team from Minnesota. Naturally, this pissed off Top Rank and they filed a counter-suit in Louisiana court, but a Federal court wound up ruling in favor of Minnesota, saving the team for at least the ’94-’95 season.

Local bidders came and went, but Glen Taylor stepped in and in October of ’94 the league approved Taylor’s purchase of the team. In related news, Top Rank would go bankrupt in ’95, which isn’t shocking considering they were attempting to use not only “undisclosed sources” to purchase the team, but up to a reported $75 million in loans from banks that just did not want to lend them the money just yet. So, good call be the league to block that purchase and save themselves from another potential hassle.

Why do I bring this up? Well, tonight the Kings, whom are fighting the same tortuous relocation battle the Timberwolves once did, play host to the Timberwolves.

By now, we all know the story of Joe and Gavin Maloof losing money through other bad investments (It take serious skill to go bankrupt running a hotel in Las Vegas) and trying to strong arm the city of Sacramento into a new arena while running their team just above the salary floor. Like Harv and Marv, they realized that their little basketball hobby was quite the expensive one and are looking for a way out when the price tag got too real. Of course, this means that resolution to the situation comes at the expense of Kings fans’ wallets or hearts.

Just how broke are the Maloofs? When the Seattle based group fronted by Chris Hansen reportedly purchased the team for $500 million dollars, Joe and Gavin would have still been several million in debt if they had put all of that to paying off their debtors. All of this raises the question if the Maloofs should even be rewarded with a new arena since history shows that even with a new arena, like the one Harv and Marv had, you still have to have the capital to keep the lights on and be able to pay the players. Unfortunately, the Maloofs don’t appear to have the money to fund an arena on their own meaning that if Kings fans want to pay for it they’re going to have to foot the bill.

In the early 00′s the Kings had one of the most exciting teams in basketball and the most rabid fans in the league. If you’re on Twitter, you’ve seen the grassroots Here We Stay movement, and if you frequent SB Nation blogs you’ve undoubtedly come across Tom Ziller’s excellent work to drive fan interest up to league’s New York meetings to discuss relocation. Kings fans are still there, passionate, and care about their team, make no mistake.

Tonight, this is the game around the game. If you’ve seen Sonicsgate or followed the Kings’ relocation saga, you know these things don’t end well. If you have done this and are a Timberwolves fan you should know how lucky we are to still have a team when the Grizzlies have left Vancouver and the Hornets have left Charlotte over arena issues. Just as the Timberwolves have been a major part of many of our lives through the good and bad, the same goes for Kings fans. I’m not against basketball going back to Seattle, but would hate to see it as a result of the poor decisions of their owners.

Projected Starting Fives: 

Ricky Rubio — PG — Isaiah Thomas

Luke Ridnour — SG — Tyreke Evans

Derrick Williams — SF — John Salmons

Andrei Kirilenko — PF — Jason Thompson

Nikola Pekovic — C — DeMarcus Cousins

 

 

One-on-One: Timberwolves vs Blazers Preview w/ Special Guest

Note: Since Derek’s computer is all messed up, Tom is posting for him. But don’t get it twisted: Derek did all the work. Tom just can’t figure out how to make him the author.

Since there are so many great Blazers minds and writers out there, I felt like continuing the guest features to preview Timberwolves-Blazers games. This time I recruited the help of Barbara Titus, formerly of the Blazers blog, Pinwheel Empire. Barbara is not just one of the great Blazers minds on Twitter, but also has good takes on other sports as well. You can follow her on Twitter after reading this post, @BarbaraTitus. Here’s our exchange down below:

Derek James:  Last time these teams met we were robbed of a main event Damian Lillard-Ricky Rubio matchup. With two of the league’s best young point guards playing tonight, what are you most looking forward to from both players?

Barbara Titus: As a point guard enthusiast, I’m very much looking forward to watching Lillard and Rubio duel it out tonight. It’s already clear that they are both leaders in the upcoming class of elite point guards, so this game should be circled on every NBA fan’s calendar just for the “Dame vs. Rubio” aspect. If they each have a good game tonight, we will get the best of both worlds from the point guard position – beautiful, crafty passes from Rubio, and spot-on, deadly shooting from Lillard. Unfortunately, Kevin Love’s broken hand is depriving us of the fun, talented, current and future All-Star point guard/power forward duo showdown, but hey, I’ll give him a break just this once.

DJ: The Blazers have continued to surprise people with their winning record so far, but do you expect them to be able to keep it up in the last half of the season?

BT: Honestly, I’m still not sure what to expect with this team. At the beginning of the season, I definitely didn’t expect them to be where they are now – a team with a winning record in a very real competition for the eighth seed in the West. Can the Blazers sustain this level of success for 35 more games? It may be my unwavering optimism speaking, but I’m going to go ahead and say yes.

As cheesy as it sounds, the one thing about this team that keeps them going is that they don’t ever give up. They might dink around in the first half and dig themselves into a hole, but they refuse to go down without a fight in the second half. Obviously this game plan isn’t sustainable for a championship-caliber team, but this isn’t a championship-caliber roster. They have a strong core with Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nic Batum and Wesley Matthews, and they’ve gotten nice production from the 6’9″ JJ Hickson at the center. The bench production has been fairly weak, but Terry Stotts has been learning how to better mesh the starters with the bench to create somewhat effective lineups.

Will they make the playoffs? I’m not sure. The Lakers seem to be off to a nice start since they’ve reset their season for the tenth time, and James Harden and company are continuing to develop and produce for Houston. Those are the two teams on either side of Portland at the moment. Even if the Blazers don’t make the playoffs, this season will still be considered a success in my eyes if they end with a winning record, which is likely as long as they maintain this level of energy.

DJ:  The Timberwolves have had several connections to Portland, but one of the lesser-talked about links is Dante Cunningham, who has been beloved by fans in every city he’s played in. How does he endear himself to people so well?

BT: Dante was one of my favorite Blazers when he was here. He’s so easy to root for because he’s a very nose to the grindstone worker with a team-first mentality. He’s always ready to contribute when his number is called, and he adds defensive toughness and offensive resilience when he’s on the court. He can also be pretty hilarious on Twitter, which always adds points in my book. (Random side note about ex-Blazers – I hope you guys are enjoying Chris Johnson. Like Dante, he’s another player I will always root for. He’s such a hard worker who’s always eager to learn, and he’s a great teammate.) 

DJ: Portland has been dealing with some injuries of late, but how are they still dangerous to Minnesota? 

BT: I’m going to guess that Minnesota should be most afraid of Batum tonight. With all of the offseason drama surrounding his restricted free agency; his recent personal quest to prove he belongs on the All-Star team (see him more focused on his rebounds and assists); and his continued growing confidence in Stott’s free-flowing offense, Batum will definitely come out ready to play.

Even though Love is out, I expect Aldridge to come out motivated and dominant because there’s always that “who’s the best power forward in the West” question. Most usually rank Aldridge behind Love in that category, so I always expect him to play with a little bit more motivation when playing the Timberwolves, even with Love out. 

DJ:  Similarly, what worries you as a Blazers fan although they’re missing Kevin Love?

BT: I’m a little bit worried about the Hickson vs. Nikola Pekovic matchup. Hickson can hold his own, but Pek is very dominant, and when he’s having one of those, “I have all of the rebounds” nights, there’s not many rebounds left for the opposing center. The last time these two teams met, Pek had 21 points on 64% shooting and 15 rebounds in 22 minutes of play, while Hickson had 2 points on 1-10 shooting and 11 rebounds in about 29 minutes of play. Case closed on why Pek makes me nervous.

JJ Barea is another person who has caused Portland trouble in the past, especially from the three-point line. Portland’s perimeter defense is quite questionable at times, and Blazer fans are hoping Matthews’ ankle will allow him to play because they might need him to guard Barea if he’s having an on night.

Wake Me Up When January Ends: Clippers at Timberwolves Preview

Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman returns tonight in addition to Alexey Shved and Nikola Pekovic. Although, they may need to keep a #5 jersey on hand just in case.

Thankfully, tonight is the last game the Timberwolves will play in the month of January. January has not been kind to the Timberwolves with a rash of injuries that, combined with the absence of coach Rick Adelman, has led to a 3-11 record in the new year. While January, has been rough and needs to end, the Timberwolves’ struggles go back to December 17th as they have compiled a Rambis-esque record of 5-15 since then.

As for the Clippers, after going 26-3 from early December until about January 19th, have since struggled to a 1-4 record over their last four games and will be missing Chris Paul tonight. Chris Paul was a major factor in that incredible thirty game run in December, but the Clippers will still provide a tough challenge for the Timberwolves tonight.

There is some hope. Rick Adelman returns to. So does Nikola Pekovic. Alexey Shved will return tonight as well. I think by now we can make a pretty solid case for Rick Adelman to be team MVP this season as we saw how he held this team together through the early season injuries, although we’re now past the early season injuries and on to the midseason injuries.

Ugh.

Does it feel like this is the tenth time the Clippers and Timberwolves have met this season to anyone else? Would it surprise you to learn this is just the third time these two teams have met this season, because it sure surprised me. It probably feels this way because, one, they met about a week and a half ago, and, two, the Clippers have won both meetings.

I’d throw out some stats and numbers, but given all of the injuries to both teams I don’t think they’d be particularly relevant to this game. I just know that the Clips are 4th in opponent points per game, but they’re likely a respectable defensive team still, at worst. And the Wolves’ effectiveness on both ends will depend on how close to form Pek and Shved return to, so it’s hard to use their season stats. All I do know is that when the Clippers have been clicking on all cylinders they’ve been the best team I’ve watched this season, but, again, they are without a pretty important cylinder– Chris Paul — even though they still have other weapons.

Hey, if the Timberwolves can’t right the ship tonight there’s always Friday when they play the…*checks the schedule* crap, the Lakers. Who wrote this schedule?!

 

Ready to come home: Wolves-Mavs Preview

JJ Barea returns to Dallas. This time to actually play

Where: American Airlines Arena, Dallas, TX

When: 7:30 pm

See It: FSN

Hear It: WCCO AM 830

The Wolves can’t be more excited to be over with this dreadful road trip.

Trying to avoid a four-game losing streak on the latest road trip that saw stops in Oklahoma City, New Orleans and San Antonio, the Wolves are in Dallas tonight to face a familiar opponent. The Wolves and Mavericks have already faced off twice this season (Once in Dallas, once in Minnesota) and have fortunately docked two wins for the Wolves.

So facing a familiar foe should be the key to coming out of this road trip winless, right?

Not exactly.

The Mavericks, who also struggle to keep their lineups healthy and played the majority of the season without their star Dirk Nowitzki, have started to turn things around, winning their last two including a big win over the Memphis Grizzlies last Saturday. Their deep bench featuring the former star Vince Carter and the versatile Jae Crowder will give the Wolves fits. Ultimately, they have fresh legs and a ton of them whereas Terry Porter and the Wolves are scrounging for any ounce of energy off their bench to give the starters a rest.

Speaking of bench play, the X-factor tonight will certainly be JJ Barea, who returns to play in Dallas for the first time since leaving via free agency to Minnesota. He may not be 100% still, coming off a spasming back that forced him to miss the first two games of the road trip, but he’s without a doubt the most consistent backcourt scoring option the Wolves have right now. The ravaging injuries have forced some Wolves out of their elements; Alexey Shved is being asked to do too much and his shooting percentage has suffered; Ricky Rubio still isn’t healthy and is having trouble finding chemistry on the offensive end; Luke Ridnour is playing well but doesn’t have the ability to score at a high clip night-in and night-out. It really comes down to how well Barea can take care of the ball and attack the Mavs’ interior defense. It also won’t hurt if he can connect from deep three of four times either.

Projected Starting Five:

Darren Collison — PG — Luke Ridnour

O.J. Mayo — SG — Alexey Shved

Shawn Marion — SF — Andrei Kirilenko

Dirk Nowitzki — PF — Dante Cunningham

Chris Kaman — C — Nikola Pekovic

Flashbacks: Minnesota Timberwolves at New Orleans Hornets preview

Pek will do battle against New Orleans’ talented rookie Anthony Davis tonight.

Where: New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana

When: 7pm

See It: FSN

Hear It: WCCO AM 830

At this point last season, the Timberwolves were 16-16 and were entering a matchup against the Denver Nuggets with a 3-game winning streak. They were darkhorse contenders for the 8th seed in the playoffs thanks to the revelatory play of Ricky Rubio and a breakout superstar season from Kevin Love. Things were going as well as anyone who covered and watched the team could have possibly imagined.

What’s interesting is that the Wolves, once again, are 16-16, but this year, that .500 record just isn’t as encouraging. Meanwhile, the team they face tonight, the New Orleans Hornets, are in a similar situation to Minnesota last year.

To be clear, New Orleans is not a darkhorse playoff contender. The Hornets are 10-25, good for dead last in the Western Conference. They are 10 full games behind Denver, currently the 8th seed in the playoffs if the regular season ended today.

But the Hornets are showing some signs of life. They have rattled off four consecutive wins, including impressive victories over tough Western Conference opponents like Houston and San Antonio. With Eric Gordon returning, Ryan Anderson hitting plenty of 3-pointers, Greivis Vasquez emerging as a surprisingly capable point guard and Anthony Davis showing flashes of the superstar he could eventually become, New Orleans is suddenly a dangerous team with some dangerous offensive weapons. Much like Minnesota last year, New Orleans is a small-market NBA team who might have the framework in place to be a contender in the future.

It can be difficult for rookie bigs to do more than dunk and rebound. Andre Drummond is proving that this year. Blake Griffin has a rather unfair reputation as simply an impressive dunker because of what he did in his rookie season. But what’s so impressive about Davis is the fact this his skill-set, which is impressively varied already, spreads itself so nicely over an NBA game. Take a look at some of his more recent plays in transition, gathered from Synergy Sports.

First of all, Davis is incredibly long and athletic, but you knew that. Watch the final play. Davis gathers the ball behind the 3-point line with a catch that would make Calvin Johnson proud, never dribbles, and STILL manages to avoid traveling. He is moving so fast and his legs are so long that he covers the entire area between the 3-point line and the rim with just two extremely long strides for the dunk.

The Hornets are dangerous. They are, in fact, considerably more dangerous than when the Wolves met them in December and won comfortably. Minnesota played ten players in that game. They only have nine available tonight. And as the season once again descends into the quagmire of injuries and generally discouraging rhetoric (can this team sniff the playoffs without Kevin Love for much of the season?), teams like New Orleans — talented, young, entertaining and hungry for wins, not unlike a certain 2012 squad from Minneapolis — might prove to be a serious challenge for the Wolves.

Projected Starting Fives

Greivis Vasquez — PG — Seriously, who knows at this point?

Eric Gordon — SG — Seriously, who knows at this point?

Al-Farouq Aminu — SF — Seriously, who knows at this point?

Anthony Davis — PF — Seriously, who knows at this point?

Robin Lopez — C — Seriously, who knows at this point?

Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.