Timberwolves 93, Wizards 72 09 Jan 12

NBA Team Report – Minnesota Timberwolves – GETTING INSIDE

What remained of the sparse Verizon Center audience that attended Washington’s 93-72 loss to Minnesota on Sunday was in a bad enough mood that they didn’t need to be reminded of this … but we will anyway:

Ricky Rubio could be playing for the Wizards instead of the Timberwolves.

Newly hired Wolves boss David Kahn swung a trade with Washington two days before the 2009 draft that sent Mike Miller and Randy Foye away and brought back the No. 5 overall pick, which he used to select Rubio one pick before he chose Jonny Flynn with the team’s own No. 6 pick overall.

On Sunday, Rubio delivered a game-changing 13-point, 14-assist, 6-rebound performance that helped beat the Wizards handily.

At the time, the Wizards were looking for the pieces that would allow a team built around Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler to contend in the East, so the deal made some sense for them.

Today, now that they’ve started the season 0-8?

Not so much.

“Who knows?” Wizards coach Flip Saunders said about what might have been. “If it had been Rubio, who knows, John Wall might not have been here? So you don’t know. There were a lot of things that went into that whole question. Everybody pretty much knew Rubio wasn’t going to be over here for a couple years later.”

So two years later, the Wizards are just starting on their rebuilding process.

The Wolves now are 3-5 and well on the road to starting all over after they traded Kevin Garnett away in 2007.

Rubio says all that matters is he’s in the NBA now and in Minnesota.

“I don’t know,” he said when asked about what might have been. “Minnesota was the team that drafted me and I don’t think anything else. They were the ones who trusted me and I’m so glad they did.”

———————————————–

NBA Team Report – Minnesota Timberwolves – NOTES, QUOTES

–Kevin Love said he was joking. But was he?

Wolves coach Rick Adelman emerged after Sunday’s victory at Washington gave his team its first road victory — they’ve only played two so far — and remarked how the ball moved better than it has all season.

Michael Beasley missed the game with an injury. After the win, Love was asked why the ball moved so much better.

“Um,” Love said, “Mike being out?”

He smiled when he said that and then added “I’m just kidding” twice.

But was he really?

“You know, I defer,” he said.

He also said, “When we move the ball, it starts with the point guard and it’s contagious. With Ricky and Luke (Ridnour) and J.J.
(Barea), it starts with those guys. When we do that, we get good looks with this offense. We’re talented enough. We have the players who can make plays off pick-and-rolls. We’re most effective when we move the ball, when we make three-plus passes and we get open shots.”

–Washington tried moving up in last summer’s draft to take Arizona forward Derrick Williams.

Ultimately, they couldn’t make the move from the sixth pick to as high as No. 2, which is where the Wolves took Williams.

“I like his versatility,” Washington coach Flip Saunders said of Williams. “He’s very explosive. When he does something, he does it very powerfully. He proved last year he can down perimeter shots, which makes him even more effective.”

The Wizards instead took European prospect Jan Vesely, who made his NBA debut on Sunday with a nine-minute appearance.

Williams, meanwhile, played 30-plus minutes off the bench and scored 14 points, 12 of them on four three pointers.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Love is the most unique player in our league because you just don’t have a guy who’s a phenomenal rebounder like him who also takes seven threes a game. He’s really put himself in a position to move all over the floor. I think a lot of people thought he’d be a guy who gets double-doubles in this league. I don’t think anyone envisioned he’d get 26 and 14. They were thinking he’d be a 14-10 type guy.” — Wizards coach Flip Saunders on Wolves All-Star forward Kevin Love.

———————————————–

NBA Team Report – Minnesota Timberwolves – ROSTER REPORT

PLAYER NOTES:

–F Kevin Love has started the season with eight consecutive games of at least 20 points and 12 rebounds. He continued the streak with Sunday’s 20 points and 16 rebounds against Washington. He is the first player to do so sinceKareem Abdul-Jabbar, who started the season doing it 10 straight games in 1975.

–F Wes Johnson received his first start at small forward rather than shooting guard because Michael Beasley was home injured. His two free throws in the third quarter Sunday were his first two of the season, in eight games. The guy whom the Wolves want to become more than a one-dimensional jump shooter made one and missed one. He made two of eight field-goal attempts, had two rebounds, an assist, a block and scored five points in 19-plus minutes.

–G J.J. Barea worked hard with player development coach Shawn Respert long after his teammates concluded pre-game warm-ups on Sunday, trying to get his hamstring ready. He missed his fourth consecutive game on Sunday, but could play Monday at Toronto or Tuesday at home against Chicago.

MEDICAL WATCH:

–F Michael Beasley missed Sunday’s game because of a sprained foot sustained Friday against Cleveland and will not play Monday at Toronto or Tuesday against Chicago. He will be re-evaluated after that.

–G J.J. Barea missed his fourth consecutive game because of a strained hamstring he originally hurt at Milwaukee on Dec. 27. He could play Monday at Toronto or Tuesday against the Bulls.

–G Malcolm Lee is out for as much as five weeks following Dec. 30 surgery to repair a torn meniscus ligament in his left knee.

–G Martell Webster seems to be doing more and more each day in his recovery from microdiscectomy surgery on Sept. 28. He has not yet returned to practice and the team refuses to put a timeline on his return. When training camp opened, the team said he’d be out until early to mid January. It’s the second such surgery for him within 11 months.

–C Brad Miller is expected to be out until mid to late January after undergoing microfracture knee surgery in May.

ROTATION:

Starters:

–Power forward Kevin Love

–Small forward Wes Johnson

–Center Darko Milicic

–Shooting guard Wayne Ellington

–Point guard Luke Ridnour

Bench:

–Point guard Ricky Rubio

–Forward Anthony Randolph

–Power forward Derrick Williams

–Power forward Anthony Tolliver

–Center Nikola Pekovic