Wolves would like to emulate Warriors' recent success
NOV 06, 2013 5:30p ET
MINNEAPOLIS -- With little tradition and even less recent achievement to their credit, the Golden State Warriors' brand of up-and-down, light-you-up basketball rocked the NBA landscape last season.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson draining 3-pointers left and right. David Lee locking things down inside offensively. Jarrett Jack coming off the bench to further inflate team point totals. Those cool golden-yellow jerseys with short sleeves flying from baseline to baseline.
A franchise that had been to the playoffs once in the past 18 seasons stormed to a 47-35 mark and shocked the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs. Then it contended with eventual Western Conference champion San Antonio before falling in six games.
But they can learn a thing or two from their Western Conference foe, Kevin Love said after shootaround Wednesday.
"We'd like to do what they did last year," Love said. "They had a great run. Steph and Clay Thompson and David Lee are the anchors. Those guys really helped them to be the darlings of the NBA."
No arguments fro coach Rick Adleman.
"They took it, and they got it going," said Adelman, who coached the Warriors from 1995-1997. "They did what you want your team to do; they got better as the year went on, and they didn't back away. They just got better, and in the playoffs, they had a lot of confidence."
The Timberwolves -- in the midst of a nine-year playoff drought of their own, now the league's longest active one -- would take being the darlings of the Twin Cities at this point. Off to a 3-1 start with a healthy Love, they're certainly in good position.
So far. It's only a week into the season.
It took Golden State, which also entered Wednesday's clash at the Target Center 3-1, until April 10 to seize its postseason goal.
"We haven't done anything yet," said Love, currently the league's No. 3 scorer at 26.5 points per game. "After the last couple years and injuries, we just want to continue to keep playing, keep fighting. I still think, early on, we've had some good showings … and resiliency, too. So if we can do that, keep fighting hard, the future definitely looks good for us."
Mutual respect between Brewer, Iguodala: Timberwolves small forward Corey Brewer is painfully familiar with what an all-cylinders Warriors club can do. Golden State's 4-2 series victory over Denver precipitated the dismantling of the Nuggets' front office, and Brewer was around to witness it.
"Clay couldn't miss. Steph couldn't really miss," said Brewer, who signed with Minnesota this offseason after spending the past two years in Denver. "We just caught them at a bad time, I guess you could say."
After falling in the first round for a fourth straight year, the Nuggets fired coach of the year George Karl -- a guy who Brewer credits heavily for his improvement as a defender and transition offense fiend. General manager Masai Ujiri, named the league's executive of the year, left for a position in Toronto's front office.
Brewer and fellow wing stopper Andre Iguodala bolted, too, but not after a year together in side-by-side lockers that forged an appreciation for each other's games and personas.
Iguodala signed with Golden State. Wednesday night's matchup is the pair's first as adversaries since the Denver diaspora.
"Corey's a good dude," Iguodala said. "He's one of those guys where he can sneak up on you, so being able to play against him every day, seeing him play, it helps you have a respect for him and it helps when you're guarding him in a game."
Said Brewer: "That's my guy."
Rubio, Dieng remain confident: Ricky Rubio displayed nothing but graciousness when asked about sitting out the entire fourth quarter of Minnesota's one-point setback Monday at Cleveland.
The team's clear-cut No. 1 point guard suffered a horrid night shooting -- 0-for-7 from the floor, 0-for-3 from distance -- and he knew it. So he did his best to cheer on J.J. Barea and the rest of his teammates on the floor as they nearly overcame a 23-point chasm.
"It's tough, but, I mean, they were playing great and did a great comeback," Rubio said. "It was awesome watching the effort they put in."
But Rubio's not making more than $4 million this year to sit and watch while games are on the line. When they are, the last place he wants to be in is in a chair next to Adelman.
Rubio's primary focus this year has been developing his shot, in some part so he can be on the floor when the Timberwolves try to rally late. His first two games, both at home, were more what he and the club are looking for -- 39 percent on field-goal tries, 13 and 14 points each night -- before his production dipped on the road against the Knicks and Cleveland.
He's done what's become expected in the distribution and defense departments, though, notching at least five assists (double digits in every game save for) and three steals in each contest.
"He'll be fine," Barea said. "He's just got to keep getting better every day. He works hard. He's gonna get a lot of chances to have experience in those (late) situations."
Love said it wasn't just Rubio, either.
"We just had no legs," Love said. "It was our first back-to-back. There's no really replicating playing in Madison Square Garden (Sunday against the Knicks), playing heavy minutes and coming out the next night and asking for the same kind of output. We'll start gaining our legs a little bit more here and there."
Rookie center Gorgui Dieng hasn't lost any self-confidence, either, after struggling in his professional debut. Filling in for injured Ronny Turiaf, he's picked up seven fouls in just 17 minutes of play.
But rather than sulk, he has spent some extra time watching film with assistant coach Jack Sikma and doesn't plan on backing down any.
"I'm not gonna stop playing aggressive, but I just need to know my job," said Dieng, the Timberwolves' second first-round draft pick. "I know that if I stop playing aggressive -- I don't need to do that."
Injury updates: As of Wednesday afternoon, no timeline had been issued for Turiaf's return. The veteran center left Friday's victory over Oklahoma City with what was later diagnosed as a radial head fracture in his right elbow
Adelman said Turiaf currently has no movement in the elbow. Until he does, doctors won't be able to estimate when he might be able to come back.
"He's doing better, but it's gonna be a while," Adelman said.
Turiaf worked out with trainers during the team's shootaround Wednesday morning with his right arm in a light wrap.
Golden State coach Mark Jackson told reporters that forward Harrison Barnes (toe) will be a game-time decision. If he were to play, it would be sparingly, Jackson said.
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