MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Derrick Rose and the Minnesota Timberwolves needed this one.
With 30 seconds left, Rose missed the first of two free throws and was kicking himself for failing to give his team the lead.
“I kept saying, `You’re going to get another shot,” Taj Gibson said he told his long-time teammate. Twenty-nine seconds later, Rose proved Gibson prophetic.
Rose hit an 18-footer with 0.9 seconds left to give the Wolves a 116-114 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night.
He carried his team by scoring 29 of his 31 points in the second half to help Minnesota overcome an 11-point deficit.
Gibson dunked to pull Minnesota within one with less than a minute to play. Karl-Anthony Towns intercepted a bad pass from Booker, and Rose hit the second of two foul shots to tie it at 114 with 30.5 remaining.
After giving Rose his pep talk, Gibson grabbed the loose ball after Devin Booker lost it on Phoenix’s next possession. With the shot clock off and the crowd on its feet, Rose calmly dribbled down the clock against Mikal Bridges before pulling up and hitting the final shot.
“I missed a lot. it was all up to my teammates and the coaches for giving me that confidence, putting the ball in my hands and just believing in me,” Rose said.
It was a good confidence boost for both the oft-injured guard, and a team that had lost two of its last three home games by a combined seven points.
“He needed that shot, you know what I’m saying?” Gibson said. “He’s been putting in so much work in, we’ve been in that situation a couple times this year and it didn’t go his way.”
Rose picked up the slack for Towns, who had 30 points but only two after halftime. He went 13 of 13 from the free-throw line in the half, but struggled against Phoenix’s double teams in the second.
“We just stepped it up in the second half,” said Dragan Bender, the main man charged with defending Towns. “We came out, tried to double him, try to get the ball out of his hands and make the other players make plays.”
With Towns struggling against double-teams in the second half, Rose kept the Wolves in the game on 11-for-18 shooting in the half.
Second-year guard Dennis Smith Jr. has been rumored to be on the trade block. The Dallas Mavericks guard hasn’t seen eye-to-eye with coach Rick Carlisle, and several teams have expressed interest in Smith. It appeared that Smith was all set to join another team as part of a swap as we approach the trade deadline.
A report on Sunday on the latest from Dallas has changed all that. According to The Athletic, Smith and Carlisle have had productive talks and the 21-year-old is set to rejoin the team for their game on Tuesday.
Smith hasn’t made the kind of leap the Mavericks were hoping for. Despite an offensive explosion across the league, he hasn’t seen his advanced numbers experience a significant bump. Smith’s flaws are that of a young player — shooting and decision-making — so any additional communication with coaches will be a good thing for him.
Who knows is he and Carlisle can ever heal the wound fully, but it felt too soon to press the eject button on a Top 10 pick like Smith for Mavs fans.
The Los Angeles Lakers have been dealt another injury loss.
Lakers PG Lonzo Ball, part of the young core the team is trying to develop around LeBron James, suffered an ankle sprain against the Houston Rockets on Saturday. The team release via their website said Ball would be re-evaluated but could mis 4-6 weeks.
Lakers guard Lonzo Ball, who was injured in last night’s game at Houston, underwent an MRI which revealed a Grade 3 left ankle sprain. Ball is expected to miss 4-6 weeks and updates will be provided as appropriate.
Ball had to be carried from the court after he collided with James Ennis during a play in the third quarter. Ball appeared to step on Ennis’ foot when the Rockets player tried to cut him off from the basket.
LA has had a rough go of it since LeBron injured his groin some 13 games ago. The Lakers have also been without Rajon Rondo, and have had a tough time winning games. The team, once thoroughly in the playoff race, has now dipped to ninth place in the West.
James and Rondo have been cleared for basketball activities, and they need their veteran leadership now more than ever heading into the All-Star break.
Dwyane Wade is a Chicago native but the Miami Heat guard only played in the Windy City for a short amount of time. Wade was a member of the Chicago Bulls for 60 games in 2016-17 despite having signed a massive contract with the team in July of 2016.
Wade is now back where he belongs in Miami, and he’s been on a bit of a farewell tour across the NBA. As such, the Bulls felt it prudent to show a little tribute video for Wade before the final game he was to play at United Center.
How Bulls fans feel about Wade probably depends on who you ask, but a tribute video from the organization is a classy touch no matter what.
Wade has done jersey swaps with players around the league and in Chicago he got a special one: Benny the Bull.