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Timberwolves/Bucks: Ridnour returns as Bucks hope for fresh start

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2010/2011 NBA Season


13-43 (4-24 road) 21-34 (13-13 home)
February 22, 2011
Bradley Center
7:00 PM
Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: FSN Wisconsin HD
Probable starters:
Luke Ridnour PG Brandon Jennings
Martell Webster SG John Salmons
Michael Beasley SF Corey Maggette
Kevin Love PF Ersan Ilyasova
Darko Milicic C Andrew Bogut

(24th) 104.9 - OFFENSE -  101.0 (30th)
(27th) 111.0 - DEFENSE - 102.6 (5th)
(1st) 96.7  - PACE -  89.9 (26th)

On the WolvesCanis Hoopus / T'wolves Blog

Luke Ridnour returns to Milwaukee for his first regular season game since signing with Minnesota last summer.    

CBS: Standout sophs deal with injuries, adjustments
Last year was supposed to be just the beginning of big things for Brandon Jennings and Tyreke Evans, but Ben Golliver writes that their sophomore seasons have been marred by both injury and inconsistency.

"It's totally different than your first year," Jennings said. "[During your rookie year], a lot of coaches don't know you, they don't know your game. Everything is totally different. It's an adjustment you have to make. [This year,] they play me tougher, they're showing on the pick and rolls, they're more physical, they force me to my right more."

Confronting new and improved defensive schemes, while also working his way back into form, is doubly challenging. "The injury has been a mental thing, I've got to put it back together, get back to a winning mentality."

Jennings' numbers have taken a huge dive since returning from injury (.328/.211/.833 shooting this month), though he also hadn't made clear strides before breaking his foot in mid-December. Which as a Bucks fan is what really keeps me up at nights; after all, the whole idea of the Bucks becoming a good team over the next few years is predicated on Jennings being more than a mediocre point guard. There have certainly been flashes of promise--the win in Dallas right before his foot injury probably the most obvious--but mostly he's just been treading water since helping the Bucks stretch the Hawks to seven games in April. Not good. Which dovetails nicely with...

The Brandon Jennings Story: One great month and a whole bunch of bad ones
Over at Bucksketball, Jeremy has a terrific (if not terribly optimistic) read on Jennings' 16 months in the NBA so far.

It's too soon to say Jennings can't become more accurate. But right now, he's a pretty run of the mill point guard, closer to the Aaron Brooks's of the world than the Rajon Rondo's. He will very likely improve in the coming years, not many players fail to get even a little better as the calendar continues to turn over year after year, but will he be a superstar? It's probably too much to ask to ever expect Jennings to consistently be that player he was in the special first month of his NBA career. The guy who seemed capable of dropping 55 points on any given night.

Still-lucky Luke. Ridnour's scoring rate is down from his career-high 19.4 pts/40 of a year ago to a more mortal 15.6, but he's still converting with the kind of efficiency (matching his 57.0% true shooting from last year) that Bucks point guards can only dream of (Jennings is at 47.4% and Dooling at 49.7%). Ridnour's solid play has helped offset the absence/decline of Jonny Flynn, who has struggled since returning from the hip surgery that cost him the first two months of the season. Flynn was shut down a week ago and is expected to miss another couple games, opening up backup minutes for Sebastian Telfair. Given Flynn's rise and (current) fall, maybe we shouldn't be complaining quite so much about Jennings. 

Feel the Love. The last time Kevin Love didn't notch a double was way back on November 19, which in many ways tells you all you need to know about Minnesota's 22-year-old rising star. The former UCLA stud is averaging an eye-popping 21.5 ppg and league-best 15.5 rpg, while upping his true shooting percentage to a career-high 59.8% thanks to increased accuracy from everywhere on the court (.470/.425/.876).

Love's board work is a big reason why Minnesota leads the league in offensive rebound rate (30.3%), though interestingly they're just middle of the pack on the defensive glass (15th, 73.6%) despite Love ranking higher on the defensive boards. 

Beasley's return? The Timberwolves have lost three in a row, but there's at least some good news on the injury front. Second-leading scorer Michael Beasley (19.9 ppg) practiced on Monday and said he expects to make his return from a five game absence in Milwaukee. Beasley's scoring has spiked since the Heat gave him away to David Kahn and company last summer (24.3 p/40 vs. 19.9 a year ago), but playing mostly at small forward next to the league's best rebounder has perhaps predictably coincided with a cratering in his own rebounding numbers (9.5 rebound rate vs. 13.1 and 12.6 his first two seasons).

No word quite yet on whether Beasley will immediately slot back into the starting lineup, where Martell Webster has been filling in as Minny's starting SF the past couple games.  Webster returned from his own five game absence a week ago against his former team (Portland), scoring 17 points on 10 shots. With Corey Brewer heading to the Knicks for Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry's expiring deal/posthumous remains, Kurt Rambis could opt to slide Webster into the backcourt or go with a more traditional shooting guard in Wayne Ellington, who hasn't started since the fourth game o the season.  

JS: Redd seals return to court with a kiss
I don't know if or when Michael Redd will play again for the Bucks, and I'm not holding out any hope he can be a difference-maker if he returns this season. But all the caveats and skepticism aside, I have to say this story about Redd's return to the Cousins Center made me smile. Welcome back, Michael.

"It's one of the happiest days in my career," Redd said as he toweled off after practice. "To be on the court again is a blessing.

I told coach Skiles, 'I kissed the court when I came back to the gym.' You just treasure it. I haven't played in a year and a half. Just to get back out here and play and be with the guys, it's the greatest feeling in the world."

Simmons: Bogut #40(ish) on trade value list
Bill Simmons' annual trade value rankings always make for good debate, though it's hard to argue Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings were hard done by given their up-and-down seasons thus far. Simmons had Bogut ranked in a cluster of guys from 40-45 while Jennings was on the outside looking in on the top fifty. 

Our toughest omission. In person, he'll have two or three moments that make you think "Love child of Allen Iverson and Tiny Archibald!!!" But his numbers (particularly his 38 percent shooting and paltry 50 percent accuracy on shots at the rim) don't back up what we think we're seeing. He might just be a lightning-fast streak shooter who can't guard anyone and can't quite get to the rim. Stay tuned.