The Phoenix Suns came to the Target Center having lost their last 13 of 14 games. The Suns were having a similarly disappointing stretch of basketball to the Timberwolves who were coming in having lost 9 games in a row. The Suns have really been struggling after losing their lead guard Eric Bledsoe to injury and the Wolves needed this chance to right the ship. While the Wolves have been playing better in the last couple games (disregarding the last blowout against Oklahoma City on Friday night), it took until tonight's victory to feel better about the immediate future of the team.
The Wolves played a good all-around game, although much of their success had to do with the Suns' hapless defense, which has been their issue on the year. The bench-unit actually played quite well tonight, especially in the second half as Zach LaVine, Gorgui Dieng, and Nemanja Bjelica led the team in plus minus with +20. While all of those players were mixed up with different lineups, it was good to see the bench not give ground as they usually do.
The Wolves will be traveling to New Orleans to play the Pelicans tomorrow night. This is one of the few winnable games on the upcoming schedule and it would be excellent for the Wolves to build upon last night's success.
An interesting note from last night, before the game Sam Mitchell addressed the topic of his job security without provocation. "It's not about me trying to make sure I get the job for next year," Mitchell said. "If I'm ever going to stay in this league and be a head coach, I have to show people that I understand the right things to do at difficult times." Quote Sourced from Pioneer Press Game Recap
This marks a few times now in the last week, including the Britt Robson interview, where Mitchell has been much more open and forthright with the media, especially around more sensitive topics to him such as his future, shot selection, and player development. While it has been helpful to get more of an inside perspective to what is going on with the team, I can't help but see a more cynical side to this as Mitchell is angling for an extension with the Timberwolves. It's very possible this new attitude is in response to the louder criticism coming from beat reporters and league-wide pundits as Mitchell is feeling the heat.
Notes From Around the League
Just wanted to preface this as I started doing this last week and am likely to continue. There isn't always a lot of interesting news coming out everyday around the NBA, especially on Monday's when I usually write so I might throw in a few fun gifs here and there, like last weeks Kristaps Porzingis one. If people would like more formal round-ups I can start doing that, otherwise here's Boban for you to appreciate.
- Matt Barnes was fined $35,000 for his comments about the incident between Derek Fisher and himself that happened over the summer. His words that drew ire (and amusement from many league bloggers and writers) "Violence is never the answer, but sometimes it is."
- The marquee match-up of the night is Cavaliers and Warriors which tips off 7:00 CST on TNT. The Warriors won the first match-up 89-83 on Christmas day, however Kyrie Irving had just returned from injury and was not yet at full strength. The Warriors have looked vulnerable in the last week, losing to both the Pistons and Nuggets, which will make tonight an exciting game as the likely championship contenders have another rematch.
This Week in...Things That are Great!
One of the great things about the Internet is that it acts as a great leveler in terms of the lifespan of media and art. Everything we watch, read, and listen to is now in constant conversation with one another as we have immediate access to almost every piece of media produced at our fingertips. This is most commonly seen when we "catch-up" on TV shows that debuted years ago and pronounce ourselves fans as we watch years of a show in a matter of weeks, as I have just done.
I've been recently flying through The Americans and it's amazing to say the least. It's a very plot-heavy show so I'm not going to bring up too much other than that it's about a Soviet spy couple living in America during the early 1980s in the Cold War. The cast is excellent, headlined by Mathew Rhys, Keri Russell, and Noel Emmerich. While the show definitely has fun with its more pulpy spy aspects, it also holds up as an examination of the trials and tribulations of marriage.
The fourth season debuts on March 16th, giving both you (and myself) time to fully catch-up. Due to potential spoilers, I'm just going to leave the trailer for season one here.
(Sorry for the weird trailer, it was the best quality I could find)