Jace Frederick / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS — Shabazz Napier’s return to the Timberwolves from a hamstring injury on Sunday, Dec. 1, against Memphis brought up an interesting question: How would the point guard minutes be allocated? Napier played well prior to his injury, and Jeff Teague is a quality veteran point guard who demands a spot in the rotation. But both are coming off the bench now that Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders moved Jarrett Culver into the starting lineup while sliding Andrew Wiggins over to the starting point guard position. So, Teague or Napier? The answer on Sunday: Both.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders was disappointed in his team’s effort and energy level in Sunday’s home loss to Memphis. Without saying it, he suggested some of that might have had something to do with the opponent. The Wolves have now lost twice to Memphis this year, dropped a game to Washington at home and needed a feverish late rally to best Golden State in overtime. Those three teams have some of the worst win-loss records in the NBA. Reserve guard Shabazz Napier may have said it best Monday.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Tyus Jones spent the days leading up to his return home telling his Memphis teammates about how great Minnesota was. Then he looked at the forecast: Snow. “It only made sense,” Jones joked. “We land and everyone is like ‘This is where you’re from?’ ” It is indeed, and while it’s difficult to explain what’s special about it, maybe his teammates were able to see it on Sunday. Jones received a couple loud ovations from the Target Center faithful during the Grizzlies’ 115-107 win over the Timberwolves.
MINNEAPOLIS -- After all the hype and build up, College GameDay delivered. The Minnesota Gophers faithful made it so. Despite a steady overnight snowfall, near freezing temperatures and the occasional sleet storm, Minnesota fans came out in droves for the pregame party’s first trip to the U campus. By 7 a.m. — a full hour before GameDay’s official start time — Northrop Mall was half full.
MINNEAPOLIS — Playing sporadic minutes is nothing new to Jordan Bell. The big man spent his first two seasons playing for a loaded Golden State squad that competed for championships. Sometimes there were minutes available to him, and other times there weren’t. But when he did get opportunities, he made the most of them.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Karl-Anthony Towns pulled up from about 30 feet with about 10 seconds to play Saturday with the game on the line. The big man hit six 3-pointers on the evening — but needed seven. Towns’ potentially game-tying triple clanked off the back iron and Phoenix’s Devin Booker grabbed the rebound, was fouled and hit two free-throws to all but seal the Suns’ 100-98 victory at Target Center to push Minnesota back to .500 on the season.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The NBA is considering making a number of dramatic changes to the regular season schedule and playoff format, according to ESPN. ESPN’s report, released Saturday, said sources have indicated the league may add play-in rounds to the NBA postseason, re-seed the playoffs prior to the conference finals round and add an in-season tournament featuring all 30 teams.
MINNEAPOLIS -- One downer amid an otherwise promising start to the season for the upstart Minnesota Timberwolves: shooting. To many fans, the primary concern, specifically, has been the team’s 3-point shooting. The Wolves’ new-age system has the team firing threes at a historic rate for the franchise (39.7 per game — third -most in the NBA), but Minnesota is just 28th in 3-point percentage (31.3). But the reality is the Wolves just don’t have many outside shooters on their roster. It’s Robert Covington and Karl-Anthony Towns, then a bunch of question marks.
MINNEAPOLIS — Jake Layman was establishing himself as a critical, productive member of the Timberwolves’ rotation. Over a six-game stretch, the wing was averaging 13.2 points while shooting 53 percent from the field and 39 percent from 3-point range. He was rebounding, spacing the floor, and his teammates were starting to find him on cuts — playing the role Minnesota envisioned for him when he signed a three-year deal this offseason. Then he got hurt.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves say they’re the only team in the NBA that can call two cities “home.” In celebration of that fact, the Wolves will wear the Twin Cities across their chests nine times this season.