Timberwolves rout Grizzlies in home opener
Tyler MasonSports XchangeMINNEAPOLIS -- Finally, the Minnesota Timberwolves managed to turn a big lead into a victory.The Timberwolves jumped out to an early advantage and went on to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 116-80 in the NBA on Tuesday in the ...
MINNEAPOLIS - Finally, the Minnesota Timberwolves managed to turn a big lead into a victory.
The Timberwolves jumped out to an early advantage and went on to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 116-80 in the NBA on Tuesday in the home opener at Target Center.
Minnesota (1-2) led by as many as 40 points, the third time in as many games the Wolves led by at least 15.
Zach LaVine had a game-high 31 points to lead Minnesota. Center Gorgui Dieng, who one day earlier signed a four-year contract extension, added 17 points for the Wolves, while Andrew Wiggins also scored 17. All five Wolves starters finished in double figures.
Deyonta Davis had 17 points off the bench for short-handed Memphis, which beat Minnesota in the first game of the season last week. Troy Williams added 14 points,
Minnesota shot 58.1 percent in the first half, including 5 of 9 from 3-point range. LaVine had 20 of his 31 points before halftime. That included a dunk to complete an alley-oop pass from Karl-Anthony Towns. LaVine landed awkwardly on the play but eventually returned to action.
Timberwolves rookie point guard Kris Dunn was impressive in his first NBA start. Dunn, who filled in for the injured Ricky Rubio, had 10 points and was active on defense all night. Dunn added five steals and six assists to his stat sheet in 30 minutes.
Minnesota held big leads against Memphis and the Sacramento Kings in the first two regular-season games but went on to lose both contests by a combined seven points.
The Grizzlies (2-2) were playing without two of their best players Tuesday. Star guard Mike Conley and center Marc Gasol did not play for maintenance purposes. Conley was averaging 19.7 points through Memphis’ first three games, while Gasol scored 19.3 points a game in the early stages of the season.
It was the first win as Timberwolves head coach for Tom Thibodeau, who took over in the offseason for interim head coach Sam Mitchell. Thibodeau was opposing another new head coach in Memphis’ David Fizdale. In five seasons as the Chicago Bulls’ coach, Thibodeau was 255-141.
-- Timberwolves PG Ricky Rubio was ruled out for Tuesday’s game against Memphis with a sprained right elbow. Rubio was injured late in Minnesota’s loss to Sacramento on Saturday. Rookie PG Kris Dunn started in Rubio’s place.
Dieng signs extension
The Wolves have locked up one member of their young core.
Dieng agreed to a contract extension on Monday, the team announced. It’s a four-year, $64 million deal, according to the Associated Press.
Dieng has developed into a nightly double-double threat for Minnesota with his growing offensive skill-set and ability to rebound. Through two games this season, Dieng is averaging 13 points and 13.5 rebounds. He and Karl-Anthony Towns are one of the league’s few remaining big front courts, yet each has the versatility to operate alongside one another offensively while presenting an imposing shot-blocking combination.
Dieng, whom the Wolves drafted with the 21st pick in the 2013 NBA draft, has seen an uptick in his scoring average every season. The dollar figure is reasonable considering Oklahoma City reportedly signed center Steven Adams to a four-year, $100 million deal on Monday, while Utah reportedly signed center Rudy Gobert to a four-year, $102 million contract.
Dieng’s reported contract would be a near match to the deal Timofey Mozgov signed with the Lakers this offseason, and Mozgov averaged six points and four rebounds a game last season in Cleveland.
Dieng is a valuable member of Minnesota’s young core, which includes the likes of Karl-Anthony Towns, Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins. With sights set on keeping the bulk of the core together for the foreseeable future, signing Dieng at a decent value is a good start.
Monday at 11 p.m. marked the deadline for teams to ink fourth-year players to contract extensions. As of Monday evening, there was no word on a potential deal between Minnesota and Shabazz Muhammad.
Players not signed to extensions will become restricted free agents next summer.