Author: Jerry Zgoda
Tayshaun Prince given a king's workload vs. Bulls Timberwolves forward Tayshaun Prince last summer signed a one-year contract for the NBA veteran’s minimum, a few bucks shy of $1.5 million for the season.
In retrospect, he should have negotiated to be paid by the minute.
Signed for what was an unspecified but presumed limited role, Prince played 38 ½ minutes Saturday because of his defense, but he also quadrupled his previous season scoring high. His eight-point night included a last-minute layup that put away a 102-93 overtime victory at Chicago.
His 38 minutes, 34 seconds Saturday were the most he has played since a February 2014 game when he played for Memphis against New York, and behind only Andrew Wiggins’ 41 minutes, Nemanja Bjelica’s 40 and Ricky Rubio’s 39 in an overtime game the Wolves played without Kevin Martin.
Bjelica is 27 years old, Rubio 25 and Wiggins 20. Prince is 35.
“We’ll let him rest tomorrow,” Wolves interim head coach Sam Mitchell said after Saturday’s game. “Tay takes good care of himself.”
If you wondered why Prince started alongside 39-year-old Kevin Garnett and was playing as much as 20 and 29 minutes during the Wolves’ season-opening four games, Mitchell had an answer after Saturday’s game in which Garnett played 12 minutes.
“It’s just so hard to take him out of the game,” Mitchell said. “Defensively, he just knows where to be. He’s talking and communicating. He’s teaching our young guys the value of communication, and it’s just hard to take him out.”
Mitchell played Prince the final 2:28 of the third quarter, all of the fourth quarter and then all of overtime. That was nearly 20 consecutive minutes.
“We need K-Mart back,” Prince said with a smile, referring to Martin, who missed Saturday’s game and three practices last week while he attended to a family matter.
Keeping the faith
Mitchell kept promising that Wiggins’ shooting and scoring would improve after a season start in which he made 29.3 percent of his field goals, averaged 13.8 points and made just one three-point shot in his first four games.
That time came Saturday, when Wiggins made four threes by halftime and scored 31 points on 11-for-27 shooting. That was his fifth career 30-point game and two points shy of his career high. He would have surpassed that 33-point high had he shot better than 5-for-10 from the free-throw line.
“The first two games, he was hurt,” Mitchell said, referring to Wiggins’ back injury. “Sometimes you struggle when there’s so many expectations put on you. But we kept telling him to stay aggressive, keep shooting the ball, keep finding your shots in the offense and eventually it’s going to happen.”
That explains it …
Saturday’s early 5 p.m. start time in Chicago allowed the Wolves to fly to Atlanta that night and still arrive relatively early, not long after midnight. That Bulls game was one of a series of Saturday and Sunday games this season with start times intended to suit European viewing audiences.
Saturday’s game featuring Rubio and Chicago’s Pau Gasol aired live at midnight in Spain, where a Saturday night is just getting started in big cities such as Barcelona and Madrid.
“I wouldn’t say they’ve even started, they start late,” Rubio said of Saturday nights back home. “They’re finishing dinner right then. Sunday is a day off, so they go late to bed. If they go out, they go out at 2 [a.m.] so midnight is a perfect time to watch a game.”
• Martin returned in time for the team’s practice at Georgia Tech late Sunday morning in preparation for Monday’s game against the Hawks.
• Rookies Bjelica and Karl-Anthony Towns each had double-double games — Bjelica 17 points, 11 rebounds and Towns 17 points, 13 rebounds — on Saturday. “I thought Nemanja just played a great game,” Mitchell said. “You look at him and don’t think he can rebound the ball the way he does.”
Wolves Press Clippings
Outlet: Star Tribune
Author: Jerry Zgoda
NBA Insider: Survey says ... plenty about Wolves players The NBA surveyed its players again this year at season’s start, asking all kinds of probing questions such as favorite movie, fashion accessory, even emoji.
So now we know that Timberwolves veteran Kevin Martin knows the 1960s English protopunk band the Troggs, Shabazz Muhammad’s sartorial tastes lean toward French haute-couture fashion house Balmain and as Nikola Pekovic once admitted when he earnestly said, “I’m not on the Twitters,” big Pek doesn’t know his electronic icons.
“What’s an emoji?” Pekovic answered. “Not on social media.”
But after doing some more digging … did you know?
Michael Jordan’s clutch, deciding 1989 playoff shot over Kevin Martin’s home-state Cleveland Cavaliers inspired an NBA career.
The image is iconic: Jordan leaping and punching the air while Cavaliers defender Craig Ehlo crumples in defeat. The Cavs won 57 games and swept the Bulls 6-0 that season, but Jordan’s first-round shot was the kind of dagger forlorn Cleveland fans of all sports knew all too well, from Willie Mays’ World Series catch to John Elway’s 98-yard touchdown drive and Earnest Byner’s fumble in the AFC playoffs.
Martin grew up two hours’ away in Zanesville, Ohio. He was 6 years old.
“As a little kid, I was nobody’s fan,” he said. “That game actually turned me into a Bulls fan. I remember how my uncle, my father reacted to it. It seemed like a shock wave went through Ohio, even in my little hometown.”
Karl-Anthony Towns has eclectic tastes in literature.
The well-read rookie chose as his favorite books Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” and sports columnist Mike Lupica’s “Heat,” a young-adult novel about a gifted 12-year-old baseball player.
“I was just being different, but I had read [‘Green Eggs and Ham’] to my nephew the day before,” said Towns, a gifted first baseman and pitcher once himself.
“And ‘Heat’ was a cool story I liked a lot when I was playing baseball. I read a lot of books when I was younger.”
A legitimate debate rages over who is best dressed.
Andrew Wiggins picks Muhammad, Pekovic and Gorgui Dieng chose Rubio while Martin, Muhammad and Rubio all favor themselves.
“Definitely me,” Martin said, choosing a vet’s acquired taste over Rubio’s hats and European influences. “Everyone’s not feeling that European style, but everybody likes a casual man’s style.”
Rookie Tyus Jones is old school in more than his game.
His favorite TV show, “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” ended the same month he was born, May 1996. His favorite movie, “Space Jam,” premiered six months later, starring Jordan and Looney Tunes characters.
“I just remember watching it when I was 3, 4, 5 years old,” Jones said. “I’d watch it every single day and as soon as the movie was done, I’d run outside and shoot and shoot on a little Michael Jordan hoop I had, until I felt like it was time to go in and watch it again. My earliest basketball memories are ‘Space Jam.’ ”
Like Hermie the misfit elf before him, Martin wanted to be a dentist.
“I went to college to be a dentist,” Martin said. “Then my second semester of my freshman year, I hit chemistry class and knew I wasn’t going to be one.
‘‘I had to get braces when I was younger and I was always in and out of the dentist’s office and I just loved it. I was always fascinated with teeth.”
Now Martin wants to do more than just dabble in real estate.
“That’s my new thing,” he said. “I started buying properties of my own, sold them and came out on the good end. After my career is over, I’d like to take it up to another level.”
League MVP Stephen Curry and Golden State come to town Thursday for a TNT game and the Warriors’ first of two Target Center visits this season. Curry does so with the most torrid scoring start to a season in decades. Here’s a look at some of what he’s done through the season’s opening games:
• His 179 points scored in the first five games are the most to start an NBA season since Michael Jordan’s 182 in 1991.
• He joined Wilt Chamberlain and Rick Barry as the only players in franchise history with three 50-point games when he scored 53 on Halloween night against New Orleans. He set a career high for points in a quarter with 28 in the third.
• He is the first player to score 53 points in fewer than 36 minutes since the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant scored 62 points in 33 minutes vs. Dallas in December 2005.
Milwaukee’s Jabari Parker played his first game in nearly 11 months Wednesday — since he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last December — in a 91-87 victory over Philadelphia.
His teammates played a rookie prank on a guy who is no longer a rookie, waiting back in the tunnel while Parker ran out onto the floor alone. He was rusty – two points on 1-for-6 shooting, four rebounds, an assist in 16 minutes – but his sense of humor was in midseason form.
“I thought I did pretty good,” he said, smiling at reporters afterward. “I made a basket.”
Wolves’ week ahead
Monday: 7 p.m. at Atlanta
Tuesday: 7 p.m. vs. Charlotte
Thursday: 7 p.m. vs. Golden St.
Friday: 6 p.m. at Indiana
Monday, FSN; Tuesday, FSN Plus; Thursday, TNT; Friday, FSN
Player to watch: Stephen Curry, Golden State
Whatever you do, don’t think about what might have been and just enjoy the mastery of a scorer who averaged 35.8 points in his first five games this season and has made a three-pointer in 78 consecutive games.
“You never changed.”
— Longtime pal and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo on why he will appreciate Timberwolves president of basketball operations and coach Flip Saunders —who died Oct. 25 at age 60 — more than anyone Izzo will ever know.