Report: Timberwolves looking to trade for frontcourt help

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Minnesota picked up its biggest win of the season Tuesday night,  going with its coach to his old stomping grounds in Chicago, where the Timberwolves showed the tenacity and grit they have lacked much of the season. They also played strong defense for three quarters, another nice change of pace.

That’s a nice step, but there are still roster issues with the Timberwolves, some of that along the front line. The Timberwolves have a foundational piece in Karl-Anthony Towns, and they recently re-signed Gorgui Dieng, and Tom Thibodeau seems to trust them — but when those bigs are paired on the court this season the Timberwolves have been outscored by two points per 100 possessions because they allow 110.4 points per 100 on defense.

Which has Thibodeau and the Timberwolves looking for front-court help via trade, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on The Truehoop Podcast with Rachel Nichols Tuesday.

The questions here are twofold. First, what is Minnesota offering? Let’s assume they are not going to surrender either Andrew Wiggins or Zach LaVine, then what they have left are Ricky Rubio, Shabazz Muhammad, and Cole Aldrich. The Timberwolves also don’t have a first-round pick they can move before 2019, and by then that should be late first rounder with this team on the rise. That’s not much to entice other teams.

Second, who can they get? Expect them to call Sacramento — no, not for DeMarcus Cousins (he wouldn’t fit next to Towns, plus Cousins’ isn’t available anyway), but for maybe Kosta Koufos or Willie Cauley-Stein. The Kings will be looking to deal, and those guys will be available. Of course, Milwaukee’s Greg Monroe and Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic are available, but neither of them helps on the defensive end (and the Timberwolves can score plenty). One interesting name that becomes available Wednesday: The Lakers’ Luol Deng. It’s a healthy contract to take on, but he had success in the Thibodeau system before, and the Lakers will listen.

Deals are tough to make, but know that the Timberwolves are frustrated and looking to do something to shake up a roster that has been slower to come around than expected.

LeBron James overrules controversial finish with game-winning 3-pointer (video)

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LeBron James‘ turnover with the game tied late looked like a bad call. LeBron’s block of Victor Oladipo on the ensuing possession looked like a goaltend.

Did the Cavaliers get robbed of a crucial possession? Did the Pacers get robbed of two go-ahead points?

LeBron nullified those questions with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Cleveland a 98-95 win and a 3-2 series lead. The game-winner capped a great game by LeBron (44 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists) and moves the Cavs to the verge of advancing.

When a team with home-court advantage can close out a best-of-seven series with a road Game 6, it has 52% of the time. It has won the series 92% of the time.

The odds are even better with LeBron. LeBron has won 11 straight closeout games, nine of them on the road. He’ll have another opportunity Friday with Game 6 in Indiana.

Raptors’ ‘culture reset’ shines in Game 5 win over Wizards

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
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The Raptors promoted ball movement. They emphasized 3-point shooting. They empowered their reserves.

This was why.

Backups Delon Wright and C.J. Miles and starting center Jonas Valanciunas – who was benched in previous postseasons due to his old-fashioned style, but expanded his game beyond the arc this year – scored Toronto’s final 18 points in a 108-98 Game 5 win over the Wizards on Wednesday. Stars DeMar DeRozan (0-for-4 from the field) and Kyle Lowry (0-for-1 from the field, 0-for-2 on free throws) struggled down the stretch, as the Raptors burst open what had been a one-point lead.

Though DeRozan (32 points) and Lowry (17 points and 10 assists) were good overall, they succumbed late in previous playoff games. Toronto didn’t want that duo stuck with the burden of creating so much in a stagnate offense.

Hence, Masai Ujiri’s famous “culture reset.”

The results have been mixed so far against a tougher-than-average-eight-seed Washington. But at least the Raptors – up 3-2 entering Friday’s Game 6 in Washington – are on the verge of advancing.

When a team with home-court advantage can close out a best-of-seven series with a road Game 6, it has 52% of the time. It has won the series 92% of the time.

Raptors honor victims of van attack before Game 5 (photos)

Dave Sandford/NBAE via Getty Images
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TORONTO (AP) — The Toronto Raptors honored the victims the deadly van attack Monday with a moment of silence Wednesday night before Game 5 of their playoff series against the Washington Wizards.

Players from both teams held up banners with the hashtag #TORONTOSTRONG as they stood on the court during the tribute and the national anthems that followed:

The Raptors, the Wizards and the NBA will make a donation to a fund for victims and those affected by the incident.

Raptors President Masai Ujiri spoke about the attack after the Raptors practiced Tuesday.

“What we do doesn’t really matter sometimes,” Ujiri said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to be on that sidewalk.”

Guard Kyle Lowry said he was impressed by the actions of Const. Ken Lam, who earned international acclaim for peacefully arresting of suspect Alek Minassian.

“In America he would definitely have been shot up,” Lowry said. “He did an amazing job of making a judgment call. I think more people could learn from that.”

Coach Dwane Casey was struck by how close the carnage occurred to his own Toronto neighborhood,

“It’s not too far from up the street from where I live,” Casey said.

Casey and his coaches were in the midst of a meeting Monday afternoon when assistant Rex Kalamian’s phone buzzed with someone informing him of the tragedy. The coaches stopped their meeting and turned on a television to find out what had happened.

“It’s very unfortunate,” Casey said. “Just this weekend I was talking to people saying how safe Toronto is, how it’s a melting pot and you don’t have the same crime. Hopefully though, sport can offer a relief, some reprieve.”

Like Casey, Ujiri said he is proud of Toronto’s reputation as a safe, welcoming place.

“Everywhere I go, I brag about this city,” Ujiri said. “It’s the safest place in the world. It’s the best city in the world and it’s going to continue to be the best place and the best city in the world.”

Toronto police said the 10 people killed and 14 injured in the attack were “predominantly” women, but have declined so far to discuss a motive. The 25-year-old Minassian has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.

Former President George H.W. Bush says he’s more concerned with Rockets beating Timberwolves than his own health issues

AP Photo/Rick Bowmen
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Former President George H.W. Bush is hospitalized with an infection.

Spokesman Jim McGrath:

The Rockets, up 3-1, play the Timberwolves in Game 5 tonight.