Crispy’s Pre-Game Notebook: Knicks-Timberwolves

Strange night in the NBA yesterday: For only the second time in history (last time was 1969), six teams with worse records than their opponents won every game! One of the biggest shockers was the Magic’s win against the Spurs in San Antonio. The Spurs’ home record is surprisingly 4-4 this season.

Now on to tonight’s matchup:

Minnesota Timberwolves (5-12)

  • Twenty-fifth in the NBA and 13th in the Western Conference, Minnesota begins a stretch of eight games in 14 days. The Timberwolves have averaged 26 wins over the past five years and missed the playoffs for 12 straight seasons, one shy of the Warriors’ franchise record of 13 straight.
  • Andrew Wiggins, the former No. 1 pick traded for Kevin Love, is averaging 24 points per game and is only 21-years-old.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns, the reigning Rookie of the Year, had 51 double-doubles last year and is averaging 21 points and 9.8 rebounds this season.
  • Towns showed his leadership abilities Monday night after a home loss to Utah by taking full responsibility for the loss after the game. I asked him this morning why he took so much of the blame for the team’s slow start, and he responded, “I have big shoulders to hold the pressure. Haven’t been shooting the ball well lately, and I need to do better for this team to win.”
  • Tom Thibodeau, a Connecticut native, was more to the point when I talked with him after practice this morning, “It’s a process, but something is missing. We have to look at everything, but getting out-rebounded, fouling recklessly and not protecting the basket is unacceptable,” he said. “The fourth quarter vs. Utah was a disaster. We allowed 13 blow-bys and didn’t have any weak-side rotation awareness.” He concluded, “Talk is cheap, actions are what matter.”

New York Knicks (8-9)

  • The Knicks are one of seven teams with one or fewer road wins.
  • Kyle O’Quinn, who may start at center tonight with Joakim Noah favoring a left ankle sprain, talked about playing on the road at shoot-around. “You don’t have the 20,000 behind you,” he said. “The rims are not as familiar as [The Garden]. On the road, you have the crowd against you, but you must block that out, every possession matters. Rebounding is one of the keys, we have to read the shooters and look for bodies as they attack the offensive glass. Against OKC, we had to fight back after taking the initial hit under the boards. We have to deliver the blows first tonight.”
  • The bench was outscored 48-19 in Monday’s loss vs. the Thunder. Jeff Hornacek will be looking for more offense from the likes of Willy Hernangomez and Justin Holiday. When asked if those two will be seeing more time on the floor, the coach said, “It’s possible, and with Lance Thomas still out, we need some offense from our reserves.” Hernangomez in his last eight games has helped secure five wins and has averaged 8.0 points and 5.0 rebounds, while shooting 65 percent from the field on 4.25 shots per game. Holiday in his last eight games is 24-for-47 on 51 percent shooting and 9-for-21 from three-point range.
  • Courtney Lee has picked it up in his last five games as well, shooting 9-for-23 from three-point range and tallying double figures in four of the last five, at an average of 11.6 PPG.
  • One thing the Knicks will need to have more of is free throw attempts. Opponents have had 127 more attempts from the charity stripe, an average of 7.47 a game.  That adds up to 4.6 more points a game for opponents at the free throw line.