Gorgui Dieng

D'Angelo Russell vs. Timberwolves
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Report: Timberwolves intensifying pursuit of Warriors’ D’Angelo Russell, not progressing

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The Timberwolves just traded Jeff Teague and Treveon Graham to the Hawks for Allen Crabbea curious move for Minnesota.

Just what are the Timberwolves doing?

Perhaps still trying to acquire a oft-rumored target, D'Angelo Russell.

Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania of The Athletic:

New team president Gersson Rosas and the rest of his front office have been actively pursuing deals on a number of fronts to try to remake the roster to better fit their vision for the team moving forward, league sources told The Athletic. That includes intensifying their pursuit of Golden State Warriors guard D’Angelo Russell. Discussions have yielded no traction to this point, league sources said.

Minnesota tried to sign Russell last summer. From the moment he arrived in Golden State in a sign-and-trade for Kevin Durant, Russell has appeared in trade rumors. The assumption was the Warriors were just trying to recoup value for Durant however they could.

Russell is an odd fit with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson when those guards are healthy. But Golden State seemingly isn’t rushing to solve that dilemma.

The Timberwolves would welcome Russell. He’s a good young player and friend of franchise player Karl-Anthony Towns.

The Teague deal slightly trimmed Minnesota’s payroll and opened a roster spot, which are usually useful in facilitating future trades. But unlike Teague, the newly acquired Crabbe can’t be aggregated in another trade. That’s a major obstacle when trying to acquire a max-salaried player like Russell.

How will the Timberwolves send out enough salary to match Russell’s?

Robert Covington is an obvious trade candidate. But the 3-and-D forward could help many teams this season, a lost year for the Warriors. It seems his value would be higher elsewhere, though Golden State could land Covington – who has two additional years on his contract – in preparation for next season.

Minnesota would have to send out much more salary than just Covington’s, though. Towns isn’t going anywhere. Andrew Wiggins and Gorgui Dieng have negative-value contracts – especially for a team already facing the luxury tax like the Warriors.

Though it’s possible to construct a deal without it, Teague’s expiring contract would have been quite useful in trading for Russell.

Just how are is Minnesota intensifying its pursuit of Russell? This report is vague. It sounds more like the Timberwolves are just trying to show they’re actively seeking upgrades.

I’d put much more stock into the part about them not getting anywhere.

Three Things to Know: Luka Doncic makes game look easy in return, Dallas wins

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Luka Doncic makes the game look easy in return, Dallas wins. The best athletes make the game look easy. Roger Federer is graceful and makes tennis look effortless. Lionel Messi makes goal scoring look like something anyone can do, same with Mike Trout hitting a baseball 450 feet.

Luka Doncic returned from missing four games with a sprained ankle on Thursday night and looked rusty at points, winded late in the game, but also had moments where he reminded you just how easy the game can be for him.

Doncic finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists leading Dallas to a 102-98 win against San Antonio Thursday night. It wasn’t just him terrorizing guys like LaMarcus Aldridge on the pick-and-roll (which Doncic did a few times), it’s how he moves and understands spacing and when to make cuts that opens up the floor — and makes Seth Curry look like Pete Maravich.

The other key to this game? Dallas was 16-of-40 from three (40 percent). When Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. are hitting from deep (both hit three from beyond the arc in this game) the Mavs are hard to beat.

The Mavericks stayed afloat going 2-2 in the four games Doncic missed. Dallas will be battling Houston (and maybe Utah) the rest of the way for the four seed and home court in the first round, so easing back into a win against the slow-footed Spurs was good for Doncic. Now the Mavs head out to the West Coast for a Warriors then Lakers back-to-back. We’ll see if the game still looks easy against the length of the Lakers.

2) Brooklyn has historically bad shooting night, Spencer Dinwiddie blames “too much eggnog.” Every team has games they just need to flush and move on from over the course of 82; there are just those nights where nothing works.

Brooklyn took that to a new level Thursday night — the Nets were “laughably bad” in the words of point guard Spencer Dinwiddie. Consider the stats:

• The Nets 82 points were a new season low.

• Brooklyn shot 26.9 percent for the game (21-for-78), the worst any team has shot the ball in nearly eight years (January 2012)

• The Nets shot 13-of-50 from three, 26 percent.

• It was worse from two.

You got that right, Brooklyn made the fewest two pointers in a game in the shot clock era. And all that against a Knicks defense that has been bottom 10 in the league all season.

So Dinwiddie, how would you describe the night? Via Malika Andrews of ESPN:

“We were really, really bad. Like laughably bad. We shot really bad… Let’s go with too much eggnog. I don’t know what else to tell you.”

He was joking people, lighten up.

The Knicks took advantage behind 30 points from Julius Randle and cruised to a win.

3) It wasn’t pretty. At all. It was downright ugly at the end. But Minnesota finally won, snapping an 11-game losing streak. While in New York one team was being historically bad, the end of the game between the Kings and Timberwolves had both teams just playing terribly.

In the last 15 minutes of this game — the final five minutes of regulation plus the two overtimes — the Timberwolves and Kings combined to shoot 14-of-50 (28 percent) overall and 3-of-21 (14.3 percent) from three. And there were plays like this.

Eventually, Minnesota got a few buckets and held on for a 105-104 victory — the Timberwolves’ first win in December. Gorgui Dieng scored 21 points and Andrew Wiggins had 18 for Minnesota (playing without Karl-Anthony Towns due to a sprained left knee). It’s a win; they will take it.

But it wasn’t pretty.

It takes double OT, but Timberwolves end 11-game losing streak with win over Kings

Associated Press
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — As he watched Buddy Hield‘s last-second 3-point shot clang off the back of the rim at the end of double overtime, Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins breathed a sigh of relief that had been nearly a month in the making.

For the first time in December, the Timberwolves won a game.

“All you could do was look and watch,” Wiggins said. “I was looking at the shot and it missed. Thank God.”

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Wiggins scored the first basket of the second overtime and then fed Robert Covington for another score, and Minnesota ended its long losing streak by beating the Sacramento Kings 105-104 on Thursday night.

Minnesota hadn’t won since Nov. 27 before limiting Sacramento to 11 points in the fourth quarter and then outlasting the Kings in two overtimes. The Wolves did it without Karl-Anthony Towns, who missed his fifth straight game with a left knee sprain.

“We did a lot of great things tonight,” Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders said. “Our offense was not pretty tonight but we found ways. That locker room deserves to feel good.”

Wiggins got the Wolves going in the second OT with a short jumper that started a 6-0 run. After Jeff Teague made a floater, Wiggins passed to Robert Covington for a layup.

Gorgui Dieng‘s dunk with 3:11 left put Minnesota up 105-99. Hield scored five straight points for Sacramento to close the gap, but the Wolves held on after Hield missed the potential game-winner.

“Winning in double overtime, winning in regulation, either way I would have took it,” Minnesota’s Treveon Graham said.

Wiggins finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Dieng had 21 points and 15 rebounds, and Covington scored 19 for the Timberwolves.

Richaun Holmes had 20 points and a career-high 18 rebounds for the Kings, who have their own injury concerns.

De'Aaron Fox left two minutes into the first quarter with back spasms. Sacramento’s point guard missed 17 games this season with an ankle injury sustained in practice. Marvin Bagley III limped off the court in the third quarter and was wearing a walking boot on his left foot after the game. Bagley had also recently returned after missing 22 games because of a broken right thumb sustained in the season opener.

“Give Minnesota credit. They knocked down some big shots when they had to and we didn’t,” Kings coach Luke Walton said. “We have to keep scrapping and fighting. We have to be better.”

Both teams turned chances to win in the first overtime into turnovers. In the final 0.5 seconds alone, Teague attempted an inbounds pass but threw the ball out of bounds, and Bogdan Bogdanovic tried a 3-pointer on an inbounds play with 0.2 seconds left but his shot failed to hit the rim.

 

Three Things to Know: Denver’s offense is back sparking seven-game win streak

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Denver’s offense is back sparking seven-game win streak. In November, Denver’s offense looked lost. Blame injuries, a changing rotation, Nikola Jokic’s conditioning, or Mercury being retrograde, what mattered is a top-10 offense from last season was bottom 10 for the month. Denver only kept winning because its defense gave up less than a point per possession.

The past seven games, Denver’s offense is back — third-best in the NBA over that stretch, using Cleaning the Glass’ numbers (which filters out garbage time). Jokic is making highlight passes, guys are moving off the ball, and every shot seems to fall. The Nuggets have won their last seven, including Monday night in Phoenix, thanks to a Jamal Murray jumper with 3.2 seconds left.

Murray finished the night with 28 points on 12-of-19 shooting. Jokic had his seventh triple-double of the season with 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists.

Denver’s win streak started with five straight games at home against teams they should beat, although there were some solid teams in there such as Portland and Oklahoma City. Then they went on the road and won a back-to-back against the LeBron-less Lakers and now Phoenix.

Maybe there is no signature win in that streak, but it has jumped Denver up to the two seed in the West, which is closer to where we thought this team would be before the season tipped-off. They have the roster and staying power to stay up in the top four through the regular season. Whether they have the talent and team to win a second-round playoff matchup will be the ultimate test, but that’s five months away.

For now, Denver has found it’s groove again and returned to being one of the most entertaining teams in the league to watch.

2) Looking for scoring off the bench, Utah trades for Jordan Clarkson. The Utah Jazz have been good this season — 18-12 after a loss in Miami Monday night — but nothing like the darkhorse threat to the Lakers and Clippers some pundits (*raises hand*) predicted before the season. Utah doesn’t scare anyone in the West right now.

There have been a few reasons for that. One of them is depth — Utah is second-worst in the league in bench scoring per game (27.1 points per game). That’s been made worse by the hamstring injury to Mike Conley, which has forced Joe Ingles into the starting lineup and robbed the bench of even more depth.

It forced Utah to make a trade, sending Dante Exum and a couple of second-round picks to Cleveland for Jordan Clarkson, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Clarkson will get Utah buckets. In his sixth NBA season, Clarkson averages 14.6 points per game, shooting 37.1 percent from three, and the Cavaliers have been +5.6 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court this season. He’s not going to be a playmaker, he’s not going to defend well, but he can get points. And that’s what the Jazz need.

The Cavaliers can take a flier on Exum, seeing if he can fit in their young-and-not-yet-impressive backcourt of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. Exum is a good defender who has shown flashes on offense — when he gets rolling downhill — and should get some run with Cleveland. Plus, the Cavaliers get a couple of additional second-round picks for their rebuild. They did well in this trade.

We’ll see if this trade works out for Utah, too.

3) Tacko Fall conducted the Boston Pops. Tacko Fall is many things. Tall. A fan favorite in Boston. A guy who needs high ceilings wherever he goes. One of two NBA players from Senegal (Gorgui Dieng). A project.

Maestro.

He proved that last one on Monday night, when Fall stole the show at the Boston Pops, conducting the orchestra in “Sleigh Ride.” He threw in a twirl for good measure.

Maybe the most impressive feat on that stage was from the tailor who made the custom tux for Fall.

We’d all like some Tacko for Christmas, but on the road against the Raptors it seems a long shot he gets in the game.

LeBron James blows by Gorgui Dieng then puts him on a poster

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LeBron James battled foul trouble in the first half against Minnesota, picking up four and only playing 12 minutes because of it.

When he was on the court, however, he was dominant — 16 points on 10 shots, with a couple of deep threes.

Then LeBron did this to Gorgui Dieng.

That’s just not fair.

In the video, watch the reaction of the Laker bench — that group is having fun.

The Lakers led 73-65 at halftime of this defensive struggle game in Los Angeles. Anthony Davis had 27 on 12-of-15 shooting in the first half.