The Minnesota Timberwolves had won five in a row, climbed up to third in the Western Conference (and third in our power rankings), and they had become everybody’s darlings. Jimmy Butler has pushed his way into the MVP conversation, and Karl-Anthony Towns is finally defending well. This is the team on the rise that we expected.
Then Minnesota lost to the Orlando Magic Tuesday night. Orlando is arguably the worst team in the NBA and Minnesota had no answer for Evan Fournier, who dropped 32.
Butler is okay with that. Sort of. He doesn’t like losing but told ESPN the Timberwolves needed to be brought back down to earth.
“We need to humble our damn selves,” Butler told reporters after the Timberwolves fell to the Orlando Magic 108-102 on Tuesday night. “I’m glad we lost. Came in here on our high horse, thinking we’re a really good team, and we haven’t done anything yet. Good for us, man.”
That’s a good lesson for a good young team. As Minnesota gets better and better there will be a target on their back nightly — it’s not an easy burden to carry. Ask the Warriors, Cavaliers or other elite teams past and present — you get the best shot of the other team every night, and that requires a level of focus to keep on winning. Minnesota was reminded of that Tuesday night.
This is all still a learning experience for the Timberwolves — as the playoffs will be. The franchise hasn’t been to the postseason since 2004, Towns and Andrew Wiggins have never been in a playoff game, and there will be adjustments. But if Minnesota has next as the Warriors fade, or if they are going to rise up and challenge Golden State, these are the lessons they need to take to heart.
Kyrie Irving missed the Nets’ win over the Bulls on Saturday.
He’s not healthy enough to play the Pacers tonight.
Nets public relations:
Kyrie Irving (right shoulder impingement) is OUT.
Brooklyn (5-7) lags behinds Indiana (7-6) in the Eastern Conference’s middle morass. The Nets must try to catch up in the playoff race without their best player.
But it’s a long season. Brooklyn has plenty of time to gain ground. Spencer Dinwiddie is capable in relief, and the unselfish Nets can create ball movement while Dinwiddie rests.
I’m more concerned about next week. A segment of Brooklyn’s schedule:
- Nov. 24 at Knicks
- Nov. 25 at Cavaliers
- Nov. 27 at Celtics
That’s the team Irving spurned in free agency, the team Irving requested a trade from and the team Irving just left after pledging to re-sign. Those are juicy matchups. Hopefully, Irving is healthy enough to play in all three.
Ray Allen left the Celtics on bad terms in 2012. He finished his career with the Heat in 2014.
But Allen apparently could have come back with Boston in 2016… if Kevin Durant signed there first.
Allen, via Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston:
“I had a conversation with (Ainge) and I told him this was my last-ditch effort. I would’ve went back,” Allen said on WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni & Fauria” radio show.
“This was when Kevin Durant was a free agent. He was thinking about going to Boston. And I said, ‘Hey, if you guys land Kevin, I would certainly look at lacing them back up one more time and try to make something good happen here in Boston.’ “
This is a fascinating “what if?” – for the Celtics on the court and for Allen’s legacy in Boston.
But it also probably didn’t come close to happening. Durant said his top two choices in 2016 free agency were the Warriors and Thunder. Even Allen himself said he never neared a comeback.
Still, it’s interesting – after all the animosity – Allen even spoke to Celtics president Danny Ainge about returning.
Remember Luigi Datome? He spent a couple seasons with the Pistons and Celtics.
He makes an appearance in this wild video featuring Fenerbahce coach Zeljko Obradovic (warning: profanity):
A partial transcript the best I could muster:
YOU’RE GOOD GUYS. IN YOUR EYES, YOU’RE GOOD GUYS. F— YOU, EVERYBODY! F— YOU, OK!
F— YOU, GIGI DATOME. OK? SHAME ON YOU. AND YOU…
Festivus isn’t for another month, but someone is already ready for the airing of grievances.
To facilitate a trade from the Rockets to the Suns last summer, Ryan Anderson reduced the guarantee of his 2019-20 salary by $5,620,885. Anderson barely played in Phoenix, got traded to the Heat, barely played in Miami and got waived. He again signed with the Rockets this summer.
Now, after barely playing in Houston, Anderson will continue his odyssey elsewhere.
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Anderson was guaranteed $500,000 on his minimum-salary contract this season. By the time he clears waivers, he will have earned $434,704. So, assuming Anderson goes unclaimed, Houston will be on the hook for the remaining $65,296.
This might end the career of the 31-year-old Anderson. Once a premier stretch four, he no longer stands out in a league where 3-point shooting has become a common skill for power forwards. He’s also a major defensive liability.