Beasley hits game winner in 113-111 win over Clippers; Ridnour returns
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Common sense would tell you that it would be hard top the excitement level inside Target Center after Kevin Love's 31 point 31 rebound game last Friday night.
But then Michael Beasley got the ball in his hands with 14.2 seconds left in a tie game and did what you expect any crunch time scorer to do: he drove in and hit a 15-foot jumper to take a 113-111 lead over the Los Angeles Clippers.
"Put the ball in a shot creator's hands and let him go to work, and he did a really good job of that," coach Kurt Rambis said.
The only problem with the shot that gave the Timberwolves their fourth win of the season and improved them to a winning 3-2 record at home was he left 2.3 seconds left on the clock.
"Everything (was perfect) except the buzzer going off right when it left Michaels hand," Rambis joked after the game.
But there would there would be no 17th lead change, despite a Rasual Butler three-point attempt that looked good, in a back and fourth contest that contained little to know defense.
"We are a long ways away, a long ways away," Rambis said. "We need to step up our individual accomplishments on defense and our team defense needs to get better. But regardless it still feels really good to win ball games."
Beasley, who has averaged 32.5 points in his last five games, is beginning to step up as the go-to scorer on this young Wolves team.
"We all look forward to that last shot, we all look forward to putting our team on our back," Beasley said.
Beasley shared his rather unique method of dealing with the pressure after the game.
"Honestly I just blackout," said the always entertaining Beasley. "(I) stop thinking about everything because when I think (too much) it's not too good. I just black out…try to get a bucket."
It's that simple, apparently.
But don't think the recent success has gone to the head of Beasley, who endured a rocky first two seasons in the NBA. When asked if he was surprised the Clippers did not double-team him on the final possession, Beasley bluntly said:
"I'm not Kobe Bryant or Dwayne Wade so no, I wasn't (surprised) at all."
Return of Ridnour
It wasn't the return Timberwolves fans have been clamoring for since the offseason—Jonny Flynn's status is still a mystery—but Luke Ridnour returning in Wednesday's thrilling 113-11 win over the Clippers injected some much needed depth to the point guard position.
Ridnour made his presence immediately felt when he entered the game at the 4:37 mark in the 1st quarter with a steal on the defensive end followed by a smooth bounce pass in traffic that led to a Corey Brewer dunk in transition for the first of his four assists in the opening frame.
"It's going to take me a couple days to get back to where I was but I felt pretty good," the soft spoken Ridnour said after the victory.
Ridnour finished with 12 points 8 assists three steals and just one turnover in his first game since Nov. 7th at Houston when he left in the 2nd quarter after a lingering hamstring injury became too much to bear.
Coach Kurt Rambis, always a tough critic, acknowledged how hard it is to get back into the swing of things after 10 days off.
"He was ok," Rambis said. "I give him the big OK. It's hard to lay off and just come back in. Your timing is off, your rhythm is off, your conditioning is off."
While Ridnour was out, the point guard duties were put almost squarely on the shoulders of Sebastian Telfair. Telfair started five consecutive games, averaging 11.6 points and 6.4 points in 39 minutes per game. The only backup during that stretch was Sundiata Gaines who was plucked off the street after part-time point guard Wayne Ellington went down with a bruised thigh. Ellington also made his return Wednesday.
Ridnour credited a combination of rest and treatment that healed the nagging hamstring injury. He said his only concern heading into the game was how his conditioning would hold up.
"I felt good," Ridnour said. "I thought I got a little winded but I felt ok."
Before the game, coach Kurt Rambis said there would no restrictions on Ridnour and he and Telfair nearly split the minutes down the middle, playing 25 and 23 respectively.
"I've played a lot of games (in my career) so I just wanted to come out and ease my way into it, make plays when they are there and not force anything," Ridnour said. "Really just come in and try to get a little rhythm."
The return of Ridnour couldn't have come at a better time for Telfair who is dealing with a right foot/heel issue of his own. Telfair he has been getting treatment on off days and that the pain subsides once he is warmed up and in the rhythm of the game.
Telfair finished with seven points and five assists.
With one injured point guard back, the focus now turns to Flynn. Flynn is still ont rack of his original goal of returning in mid-to-late November after hip surgery in July to repair a torn labrum.
Flynn remains day-to-day, and has been for the past week or so, with his return date continued to be pushed back. Reports earlier in the week said Flynn would return alongside Ridnour Wednesday but his conditioning still isn't up to par.