GameDay Blog: Wolves vs. CSKA Moscow | Oct. 7, 2013

GameDay Blog: Wolves vs. CSKA Moscow | Oct. 7, 2013



Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Final: That's it here at Target Center, as the Wolves lose 108-106 in OT tonight against CSKA Moscow. The Wolves had a play drawn up for the final nine seconds coming out of a timeout, but a Shved miss was the end of the threat. Derrick Williams led all scorers with 21 points.

As for the starters, Kevin Martin finished with 15 points, Rubio had 10, Love and Brewer had nine and Pekovic had eight. Much more to come on this game tonight on Timberwolves.com with full analysis, postgame interviews, highlights, photos and more. Stay tuned. CSKA 108, MIN 106

End Regulation: D-Will drove to the hoop and drew contact but no foul. We're headed to overtime. And considering the Wolves have 4 games in 6 days this week, I'm sure that's exactly what they were hoping for on Night 1. MIN 96, CSKA 96

Q4 7.5: The Wolves are tied up here 96-96 with 7.5 to play. A Shved foul put CSKA Moscow on the line, and a pair of free throws tied this game. Timeout Wolves, as Adelman draws up a play for possibly the final possession of regulation. MIN 96, CSKA 96

Q4 1:18: Alexey Shved just drained a 3-pointer from the wing that put the Wolves up 92-88. Shved is 2-of-9 tonight and just 1-of-4 from behind the arc, but he is finding his shot when it counts. Shved, Jeffers, Price, D-Will and Turiaf on the floor to finish what they started. MIN 92, CSKA 91

Q4 3:16: We've got a one-point game here with (Austin) 3:16 to play in the fourth. Shved, Jeffers, D-Will, Price and Turiaf on the court. Let's roll. CSKA 88, MIN 87

Q4 4:31: We've got a game. Minnesota and Moscow trading basket for basket in the fourth, with CSKA holding a two-point lead with 4:31 to play. One bright spot is the fact that the reserves listed in the last post are holding their own here. We've talked all camp about the second and third units showing their skills and taking it to the first team. Right now, they're keeping this Wolves team in this game. CSKA 86, MIN 84

Q4 9:26: Here we go, Wolves fans. Minnesota just jumped back into this game and trail by three at 78-75. This Wolves group primarily led by Price, Jeffers, Shved, D-Will and Turiaf is currently on a 6-1 run this quarter. Nice change of pace here as the Wolves try to climb all the way back from 18 down at one point. CSKA 78, MIN 75

End Q3: The Wolves enter the fourth down nine but again showed some signs of life at the end of the third. Some of that had to do with Jeffers, who pulled down an offensive rebound and basket to end the basket. Martin leads the team with 16 points, while Rubio has 10. Love has nine points and seven boards. CSKA 77, MIN 69

Q3 2:26: Othyus Jeffers made his entrance moments ago and on his first defensive possession he showed some of the aggressiveness that he's displayed during camp. If he's able to make this roster, that defense will be his biggest key. He did just get out in transition and score with an athletic layup off a pass from Corey Brewer. Nice to see the intensity and quickness right away. Also now in the game is Shved and A.J. Price. CSKA 77, MIN 65

Q3 8:26: CSKA Moscow opened up the third quarter on a 6-0 run, which K-Love ended with a layup moments ago. Moscow is now up 59-52--tough way to start up the quarter after such a strong end to the second. Minnesota is staying with their starters, though, as Rubio, Martin, Brewer, Love and Pek are on the court coming out of the timeout. CSKA 59, MIN 52

Halftime: The Wolves struggled mightily in the first half, but the final 2:26 were more along the lines of what the team expected out of this group. Over that span, Minnesota put together a 12-2 run and brought the game within three at 53-50. It began with a Love basket and one, Rubio hit a fadeaway jumper, Brewer hit a corner three followed by a pretty fast-break jam after a 3/4 court outlet pass from Love. After all the tough shooting, Minnesota is in business here as they go into the half. At the break, Kevin Martin has 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting, Rubio has eight and Brewer has seven. Love, Williams and Hummel each have five. For CSKA Moscow, Milos Teodosic leads the way with 17 points off the bench. CSKA 53, MIN 50

Q2 2:58: Milos Teodosic is bringing the heat off the bench. He's 6-of-8 from the field and 3-of-4 from 3-point range, and his 17 points lead all scorers. He's connecting from everywhere right now. Of all the shooters on CSKA Moscow, he's the one who is hitting even when he's getting contested shots. CSKA 49, MIN 38

Q2 4:08: The Wolves went back to essentially their starters with Rubio, Martin, D-Will, Love and Pek early in the second. And when it comes to igniting the crowd, the biggest in-game cheer came from a massive block by D-Will in the paint. Williams is currently playing the 3 with the starting unit. This is a good opportunity to check and see how he'll fare at that position with this first group. CSKA 47, MIN 35

Q2 8:59: Alexey Shved just had a nice drive to the lane and found Derrick Williams on the back side of the paint for a lay-in. The Wolves are down 33-22 in large part because Moscow is getting too many open looks. Their ball rotation is keeping Minnesota's defense off balance, and it's showing right now on the scoreboard. CSKA 33, MIN 22

End Q1: Tough first quarter for the Wolves. They're trailing by eight after 1, and much of that has to do with their struggles from the field. Moscow is getting enough decent looks to shoot 52 percent from the field, so Minnesota's 27 percent won't cut it. Robbie Hummel made his Wolves debut in the final two minutes of the quarter, and his baseline jumper made it 25-17. He also missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that would've cut it to five. Ronny Turiaf with two nice stops on the last defensive possession of the quarter. Shved playing PG to start the second along with Shabazz, Hummel, D-Will and Turiaf. CSKA 25, MIN 17

Q1 2:36: If there is an ideal way to start your first preseason game, I'd wager this isn't it. The Wolves are down 22-15 and shooting 26 percent from the field. Moscow, on the other hand, looks like a team that is playing their ninth game of the season. They are hitting one another with crisp passing and showcasing very nice ball movement. Moments ago, Fridzon missed about the most wide open 3-point attempt I've seen on an NBA floor. The Wolves just put Shved, D-Will and Turiaf into the game to join Love and Rubio, so we'll see how the change in rotation helps. CSKA 22, MIN 15

Q1 5:51: The Wolves have their hands full early on as CSKA Moscow opens up the game with a 13-12 lead at the first timeout. The issue right off the bat is Moscow shooting 6-of-9 from the field, while the Wolves opened up tonight 0-for-7 from the floor. That changed with a Rubio basket followed by a fast break Corey Brewer jam. Kevin Martin missed a couple early but did hit the team's first 3-pointer of the year. He's got seven points early on 2-of-6 shooting. CSKA 13, MIN 12

PREGAME 7:00 PM: The Wolves and CSKA Moscow exchanged gifts prior to the game, each a custom jersey from their own team. Shved was the Wolves player who was exchanging the gift at center court. The two teams also all shook hands and took a photo in the middle of the court. Prior to the national anthems, the Wolves paid tribute to standout Russian shooting guard Sergei Belov, who passed away this week. Finally, before tipoff Alexey Shved welcomed CSKA Moscow to town with a friendly speech. Tipoff coming up.

PREGAME 6:40 PM: I spoke with guard Othyus Jeffers for a bit before the game and found out a couple interesting notes. One dates back to his days growing up in the Chicago area, where he played high school ball just five miles away from CSKA Moscow point guard Jeremy Pargo. Jeffers went to Hubbard High School, and five miles west Pargo went to Paul Robeson High School. The two played Chicago summer league ball together, and Jeffers grew to appreciate Pargo's game playing against one another growing up.

"He's a good kid, a tough kid," Jeffers said. "He showed he can dominate overseas, he showed he can play in the NBA. He's a good talent."

Pargo played parts of the last two seasons in the NBA with the Grizzlies, Cavaliers and 76ers.

Jeffers also said the Wolves really put together a pretty solid scouting report on CSKA Moscow—similar to a normal night facing an NBA opponent. While the main objective is evaluation and getting the team to play minutes together, Minnesota did scout its opponent as well. What they expect to see tonight is a team that can run the pick-and-roll very well, use a lot of dribble handoffs and use their bigs to set strong screens. Sounds pretty similar to NBA ball.

"We're still defending the same way," Jeffers said. "We're doing our every day thing."

If the Wolves were playing another NBA team, there might be more focus from their opponents on player evaluation. But this is a European club that is getting a shot at an NBA team, and they want to come out with a win. That helps from a competitive standpoint.

"Everybody has the focus on," Jeffers said. "The only difference in between the two is that they play very good individual ball within a team concept. The NBA is probably a little bit the other way around. It's more individuals that stand out in a team concept. They know how to perform, and overseas they teach you about team basketball so they know how to get the win for their team."


PREGAME 6:30 pm: Wolves coach Rick Adelman said Dante Cunningham will dress tonight but will likely not play. He's been limited the last two days with flu-like symptoms, and with four games this week Adelman will likely elect to not play DC tonight and then open up some minutes for others tonight. Meanwhile, J.J. Barea is expected not to play tonight. He was absent for personal reasons at shootaround, and Adelman said he doesn't expect Barea to be available tonight.

PREGAME 3:50 PM: Welcome back, Wolves fans. I hope you had a great offseason, but it’s time to get the 2013-14 campaign kicked off tonight at Target Center. The Timberwolves will be facing CSKA Moscow at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North, effectively kicking off a week full of hoops to get things rolling. Counting tonight, Minnesota will play four preseason games in the next six days.

So much for easing back into the flow….

But it’s good for basketball fans, and tonight we will extend outside the NBA’s reach and into international play. CSKA Moscow is a well-respected squad that is making its third trip to the U.S. in the last five years. They’ll face Minnesota tonight and San Antonio on Wednesday before heading back. During the team’s first two trips, Wolves guard Alexey Shved was on the roster.

There are two things that come to mind when you think about international preseason games. For one, it expands interest in the game well beyond America’s shores, and the Wolves as an organization are excited to be part of that initiative. But secondly, it also provides a different preseason dynamic than you’d get from facing teams inside the league.

NBA teams use the preseason for evaluation, and the main objective isn’t the outcome of the game. When European teams face NBA opponents, there’s no question they want to win. Ricky Rubio’s FC Barcelona squad faced the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in October 2010, and he said on Sunday there was no question they wanted to make a statement by beating an NBA squad. They succeeded, winning 92-88 in Barcelona.

The Wolves are ready for that. Wolves forward Derrick Williams was well aware that this team has former NBA players on the roster.

“This is going to be a tough match for us,” Williams said. “Just because we’re playing a team that’s not in the NBA doesn’t mean they’re not good. We have to be ready to play.”

When it’s early in the preseason, part of the preparation is figuring out how to get as many players into the game as possible for evaluation purposes. Coach Rick Adelman said he would probably rotate a lot of guys in and out of the lineup tonight, and the goal is to get 12-13 guys in. Whoever doesn’t get playing time tonight will get chances to play on Wednesday in Toronto.

There will certainly be a lot of assessing this preseason. There are currently 14 guaranteed contracts on the roster with one spot available, and that spot is currently the focus of a heated roster competition between forward Robbie Hummel, shooting guard Othyus Jeffers and point guards A.J. Price and Lorenzo Brown. Look for those guys on the court tonight.

As for injuries, obviously Chase Budinger is out tonight recovering from knee surgery. Dante Cunningham was limited in shootaround today and missed practice on Sunday with flu-like symptoms, so his status is questionable. J.J. Barea was not at shootaround due to a personal issue, and his status is unknown for tonight.

If Cunningham is out, look for Hummel and Williams to slide into more minutes at the 4. There have also been times this camp when Chris Johnson has played that position, so that’s another option.

On the CSKA Moscow side, FoxSportsNorth.com's Phil Ervin reports swingman Sonny Weems (formerly with the Nuggets and Raptors) will not play tonight.

I’ll be running this blog all season long for every Wolves home game, beginning with pregame notes and running through periodic in-game updates. More to come, so stay tuned…


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