The post All-Star start for the Timberwolves couldn’t have gone any better. Huge games by rookie Derrick Williams (by far his best performance) and Michael Beasley off the bench powered the Wolves to a 109-97 victory over the Clippers in L.A.
It may still be “Lob City” with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul but the Wolves have won two straight against them in Tinsletown. They’ve back over .500 and next up, the Lakers. Maybe without Kobe Bryant?
The schedule the Timberwolves are playing to start the second half is downright brutal. Three straight nights, two in L.A. and one in Phoenix. Plus, the Suns don’t play one game until the Timberwolves come to Phoenix Thursday night. The well-rested Suns get the Wolves on the third night of a back-to-back-to-back. Not sure what the scheduling genius who came up with this was thinking. Friday is off then it’s on to Portland for a game Saturday.
A quick homestand with the Clippers, Portland, the Lakers and New Orleans coming to Minneapolis, then it’s back on the road. The Wolves finish March playing 9 of 11 on the road which includes a 7 game, 12 day road trip that will make or break the season according to Coach Rick Adelman. The Wolves simply have to find ways to win some of these games.
Postgame Interview with Coach Rick Adelman
Tuesday night’s victory against the Clippers was a great start. The Clippers came into the game in 1st place in the Pacific Division. They were 20-11 including a solid 12-4 at home (one of those four losses to the Wolves). It’s been a long time since this sentence has been written (has it ever been written?) but the Clippers are the class of L.A. Better than the Lakers, tougher to beat at home and on their way up. Chris Paul has played as well as anyone lately and Blake Griffin is always difficult to deal with.
But the Wolves found a way. Kevin Love, in foul trouble and banged up with a bruised rib, had his least effective game all year. Derrick Williams and Michael Beasley really stepped up as did the rest of the bench, dropping and NBA season-high 72 points. That’s only two points from a Wolves record for bench points.
Williams deserves some special recognition. He played a terrific 4th quarter in the come-from-behind victory over Utah going into the All-Star break. Now, he scores 27 on 9-10 shooting including 4-4 on threes. Williams seems to be finally getting comfortable with Adelman’s offense and with his role coming off the bench. If he can continue to grow and take pressure off Kevin Love, there’s a lot to get excited about.
Michael Beasley also scored 27 points off the bench. Rumors have swirled for a couple of weeks about potential trades involving Beasley. He showed against the Clippers how devastating he can be as an NBA scorer. Those are talents that are hard to come by and Beasley is still a young player (he just turned 23 in January). If the Wolves really are shopping Beasley, here’s hoping they get a big return on investment because he is capable of carrying this team to wins.
WCCO’s Postgame Interview with Michael Beasley
Wednesday in Los Angeles, the crew of the Staples Center will change out the floor and get it ready for the Lakers. Curious? I was too. They change out the floor, the logos, the baskets, change the seating arrangements and scorers table, etc. Video proof…click here! Sharing an arena is no small chore (not to mention the LA Kings play hockey there too).
The big story is who’s playing. It sounds as if Kevin Love will be good to go even with a bruised rib. They outfitted him with a padded jacket and he said after the Clipper game that he could have gone back in and played if needed. He expected to be fine for the Lakers.
Kobe Bryant is a different story. He was smacked, hard, in the face and nose by Dwayne Wade during Sunday’s All-Star game. A broken nose and tests for a concussion have made him doubtful (although he’s “officially” listed as day-to-day). The NBA has adopted a policy that follows the other pro sports leagues regarding concussions.
According to the concussion policy the league implemented this season, a player must be symptom-free for 24 hours and then complete a series of steps to confirm he was healthy enough for competition. The fact that Bryant finished the All-Star game might make this decision more interesting. Bryant also has a long history of playing through injuries and maladies that other players do not. For example, he’s been playing all season with a torn ligament in his wrist that almost certainly will require surgery. There are few as tough as Kobe Bryant. If he can, he’ll play (and the latest news out of L.A. says Kobe has passed all tests so far and “should” play).
If Bryant is out, this is a great chance for the Wolves to do something they haven’t done in a long time. Beat LA. In LA. They haven’t won a game against the Lakers since a 117-107 double OT victory at Target Center in March of 2007. They haven’t beaten the Lakers in LA since December of 2005. Time to break a couple of streaks and this team looks like it’s ready to do it!
And one last note. L.A. tends to bring out the stars for NBA games, especially the Lakers. But the Clippers have had their share as they’ve been improving. Yesterday on the Chad Hartman Show, Chad talked to Wolves TV Analyst Jim Peterson about the scenery of a game in L.A. and the “lack” of star power in the seats. Penny Marshall, Billy Crystal, Malcolm Jamaal Warner and Larry David are all well known Clipper fans. Times have changed!
WCCO’s Chad Hartman with Wolves Analyst Jim Peterson
Wish granted Jim Peterson. SI Swimsuit Cover Model Kate Upton made an appearance. Cheering for the Wolves we’re quite sure!