Kurt Helin

Kevin MArtin, Kemba Walker, Marvin Williams

Timberwolves moving Kevin Martin into starting lineup

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves coach Sam Mitchell is inserting Kevin Martin into the starting lineup in hopes of jumpstarting a struggling offense.

Martin will replace Tayshaun Prince and Andrew Wiggins will slide from shooting guard to small forward in a first five that also includes point guard Ricky Rubio, power forward Kevin Garnett and center Karl-Anthony Towns. The new-look unit will debut on Monday night at home against winless Philadelphia.

“We’ve just got to score more points,” Mitchell said after practice on Sunday. “That may help K-Mart get out of his funk a little bit and it may help our team overall.”

Over his last five games, Martin is shooting just 26 percent from the field and is 1 for 10 from 3-point range. It’s a stark contrast over his previous 11 seasons in the league, when Martin carved out a reputation as one of the better scorers and shooters in the league.

“I’ve never been through a stretch like this before,” Martin said. “Sam and his staff are trying to figure out things we can do to get me going.”

Mitchell started the season with Prince at small forward in an effort to underscore the importance of defense to a roster that has a young core including Wiggins, Towns, Zach LaVine and Shabazz Muhammad, who have all played three seasons or less. That starting five was one of the stingiest in the league as the Wolves started the season with impressive road victories against Chicago, Atlanta and Miami.

But after the offense sputtered again in a loss to the Detroit Pistons at Target Center on Friday night that dropped their home record to 0-6 on the season, Mitchell felt he had to make a move. Prince and Garnett combined to go 0 for 3 from the floor with zero points in just over 35 minutes, putting more pressure on Rubio, Towns and Wiggins to carry the scoring load.

“Tayshaun has done his job. Tayshaun was never brought here to be the starter,” Mitchell said. “He’s been able to teach our guys.”

Mitchell said Prince will now likely see his minutes reduced to about 10 per game, using him only during times when the team needs a big stop. Muhammad will also have his minutes increased as the first wing player off the bench.

Martin made it clear before the season started that he still saw himself as a starter in this league. Now it’s up to him to shake off his struggles and prove it.

“I’m confident I’ll get out of it and get back to the player that I was,” Martin said. “When I’m a better defender and rebounder than I am an offensive player, something’s going on.”

Five Takeaways from an NBA Sunday: I, for one, welcome our new Warriors overlords

Stephen Curry, Emmanuel Mudiay

Sunday night the Golden State Warriors dared try to steal a couple of headlines away from the NFL by equalling the fastest start in NBA history. In case you missed it because your significant other had the remote control and put on the AMAs, here are five things you need to know from Sunday around the league (and consider breaking up with anyone who wanted to watch the AMAs).

1) I, for one, welcome our new Warriors overlords. I don’t see a likely end for this streak. It’s going to happen, but the when is not easy to spot. The Warriors are a relentless machine that is now 15-0 to start the season after beating Denver Nuggets on Sunday 118-105. That ties the all-time mark for the fastest start in NBA history — a record they will break Tuesday night when the Warriors host the Lakers (unless Kobe Bryant travels to that game in a DeLorean with a flux capacitor in the back, I’m not even sure that contest is interesting).

When do the Warriors lose? Here are their next dozen opponents after thrashing the Lakers Tuesday: Suns, Kings, Jazz, Hornets, Raptors, Nets, Pacers, Celtics, Bucks, Suns, Bucks, Jazz. A few teams in there are certainly playing well, but are you predicting a loss? Complete that little run and Golden State would be 28-0, having passed Miami for the second-longest win streak in NBA history. Sure, that’s jumping the gun, on any given night and all that — but these Warriors have come out with a real “call us lucky, will ya?” attitude. Their small-ball lineup is destroying teams by better than 60 points per 100 possessions. They have the best offense in the NBA, the fifth best defense, and are outscoring teams by 15 points per 100 possessions. I could nitpick and say I’d like to see a little less shooting and more running of the offense by Stephen Curry, but again 15-0 and flat-out destroying teams, so who am I to judge. They own the league at this moment.

2) Even if you’re 15-0, Draymond you cannot just hang on the rim. Nobody is above the law, or the rules of the game —and that includes you Draymond Green. You can be 15-0, you can have a new contract that makes you rich, you can be one of the game’s top defenders — you still can’t hang on the rim and do a little pull-up or you will get a technical.

3) Frustrated Clippers get in screaming match in locker room after game. The Clippers are below .500 at 6-7. They have lost seven of their last nine. They looked terrible in the first half Sunday in their loss to Toronto. I should not be writing those sentences about a team with a healthy Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but here we are.

All that spilled over into a loud post-game argument that the media could hear the next room over. Part of it was Josh Smith arguing with an assistant coach — that would be 4.7 points per game and shooting 35 percent Josh Smith. There are a lot of problems in L.A., and Doc Rivers’ the GM’s off-season moves have not had the desired impact. Lance Stephenson is falling out of the rotation because of his play. Paul Pierce has to come off the bench because he looks old and slow trying to guard starting threes in the league. The Clippers defense is 22nd in the league, allowing 104.3 points per 100 possessions. The offense is down 5.4 points per 100 possessions from a year ago. You get the idea, things are bad. The Clippers should be frustrated. The better question becomes, what are they going to do about it?

4) About those top contenders in the West…. Going into the season most of us forced to make predictions said any one of five teams could win the West. It hasn’t played out that well at all. Here are those five.

Golden State 15-0
San Antonio 10-3
Oklahoma City 8-6
LA Clippers 6-7
Houston 5-9

Meanwhile a number of us thought Dallas would fall out of the picture, they are 9-6 and the current three seed. It’s early for sure, but the West isn’t what we thought — and it’s not as good as it has been.

5) Russell Westbrook just doing what he does — putting up ridiculous numbers. The most entertaining game of the day by far was Oklahoma City beating Dallas 117-114. Kevin Durant is still out (although he could return early next week), so that meant more of the Russell Westbrook show — 31 points and 11 dimes. He is just fun to watch.


Report: Josh Smith, assistant coach in locker room argument after Clippers’ loss

Josh Smith

Josh Smith has been one of the many things for the Clippers that has not gone according to plan this season. He is averaging just 4.7 points per game on 35.6 percent shooting, has a PER of 11, and all of that has Doc Rivers playing him less than 15 minutes a game. He’s not adding the depth they need, although his defense has been good. Sunday against the Raptors in Los Angeles, the Clippers had trailed by 29 (it was 63-34 at the half) but in the fourth quarter but had cut the lead to six when Smith missed a three (shooting 30 percent from there on he season. and what followed was a 6-0 Toronto run that was the dagger.

After the Clipper loss we knew there was a bit of a meltdown in the Clipper locker room, now we have the details thanks to Dan Woike of the Orange County Register.

Josh Smith and an unspecified Clipper coach were involved in a frustration-fueled argument following the Clippers’ 91-80 loss to Toronto Sunday.

Profanities and yelling made their way through the cement walls separating the Clipper locker room from an adjacent room where the media was waiting to speak to head coach Doc Rivers.

It’s not clear what the argument was about, or if anyone else was involved. The Clippers should be frustrated, they are 2-7 in their last nine and have fallen below .500 on the season at 6-7 — this is a terrible start for a team that fancies itself a contender.

Josh Smith is part of the problem with the Clippers, but he is far from the biggest on. That honor goes to the team defense — the Clippers are 22nd in the league in defensive rating, giving up 104.3 points per 100 possessions — and after that we can get into rebounding and other embarrassing parts of the Clippers’ game.

The players and Rivers tried to play everything off after the game as no big deal. Normal locker room stuff. And I guess it is normal for a team that had high expectations and is struggling. The Clippers need to turn this around quickly before their hole gets any deeper.

Thompson leads Warriors to historic 15-0 start, beat Nuggets 118-105

Klay Thompson, Emmanuel Mudiay
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DENVER (AP) — Klay Thompson scored 21 points and the Golden State Warriors tied the best start in NBA history, beating the Denver Nuggets 118-105 on Sunday night to move to 15-0.

Golden State matches the start of the 1948-49 Washington Capitols and the `93-94 Houston Rockets. The Warriors can break the record Tuesday at home against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Here’s more history: The Warriors surpassed the `57-58 Boston Celtics for the best start by a defending champion.

Thompson hit a 3-pointer with 2:08 remaining in the second quarter and Golden State never trailed again. The reserves built up a sizeable lead and allowed Stephen Curry to rest the entire fourth quarter. He had 19 points, the first time this season Curry didn’t reach 20.

Darrell Arthur had 21 points for the Nuggets, who’ve lost three straight. Kenneth Faried was sidelined by a sprained left ankle.

Harrison Barnes scored seven of his 17 points in the third quarter to allow the Warriors to gain some separation. This was the way things went for the Warriors in the third: Festus Ezeli missed a wide-open dunk and it clanged straight to Curry, who drained a 3-pointer.

When the Warriors played in Denver last March, they rested Curry & Co. That didn’t sit well with fans who were expecting to see the sharp-shooting guard.

Resting wasn’t an option this time. Not so close to an NBA record.

“Whether or not we get it, it really doesn’t affect our ultimate goal of trying to win a championship,” said interim coach Luke Walton, who picked up a technical in the third quarter. “It would be something nice to get along the way.”


Warriors: Walton said head coach Steve Kerr (back surgery) is “doing better.” Said Walton: “He gets really sick of being asked that question. So I’ve stopped asking it.” … The Warriors were 15 of 29 from 3-point range.

Nuggets: Before the game, coach Michael Malone equated the Nuggets to being the “Washington Generals” – the usual opponent for the Harlem Globetrotters – because the television audience wants to see the Warriors and “nobody is here to see us. We’re OK with that. We’re playing against a great team.” … Joffrey Lauvergne (back) and Jusuf Nurkic (knee) didn’t play. … Nikola Jokic had 11 points and 11 rebounds.



Celtics’ Marcus Smart out a couple weeks with left leg injury

Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart has started eight games this season for the Celtics, and while you wouldn’t call the second-year guard’s play brilliant he’s been solid. Most of the time. He’s averaged 9.8 points a game and worked hard on defense.

The Celtics will be without him for a couple of weeks due to a lower left leg injury, reports A. Sherrod Blakely at CSNNE.com (and confirmed by the team).

But the injury was feared to be a lot worse, according to a league source.

“Luckily it’s a few weeks versus a few months,” the source told CSNNE.com.

Officially, the injury was a subluxation of the proximal tib-fib joint. That is the area basically behind the knee where the tibia and fibula connect. A subluxation is a partial dislocation (or a misalignment, if you ask a chiropractor about your back).

So, ouch. And that could have been a lot worse.

Avery Bradley will get the start for the Celtics, and that is good — he has been a defensive beast this season off the bench. He has a personal defensive rating of 85.7 (points allowed per 100 possessions).