Rookie Wesley Johnson continues strong play against mentor Kobe Bryant
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Minnesota Timberwolves' rookie Wesley Johnson continued his impressive play in Tuesday's 90-79 loss to his mentor Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Johnson finished with 20 points, a career-high eight rebounds and did a commendable job on the defensive end against Bryant. Johnson said he has gotten a boost of confidence ever since playing in the Rookie-Sophomore game during All-Star Weekend.
"The whole atmosphere of the All-Star Weekend really just rubbed off on me so I am coming back with a different spark," Johnson said.
The rookie out of Syracuse has scored 15+ in three consecutive games for the first time in his career after putting up 17 and 22 in his previous outings.
Johnson met Bryant the summer of 2010 before the Wolves used the fourth-overall pick to select him in the draft that June. The NBA Champion and the soon-to-be rookie were introduced by their agent, Rob Pelinka, and Bryant has since taken Johnson under his wing.
"It is great," Johnson said. "It is a blessing. He really was one of my favorite players to watch growing up and he's the best player so I can't put it in words. It speaks volumes of him to really look after to me. Giving his advice and his own opinions of things I need to work on from watching me, so I really appreciate it."
With Corey Brewer traded, it is now on Johnson now draws the defensive assignment against players the likes of Bryant.
Johnson held Bryant to just four first-half points and had him continually looking to the ref for foul calls that didn't come till late in the second-half for the superstar.
"(Frustrating Bryant) was my main objective so I could laugh at him later," Johnson said with his trademark smile. (It worked) for a little bit it did but he got going and it opened up a lot more for everyone else so I think he was pleased with the outcome."
Johnson wore Bryant's signature Adidas shoe from his rookie season in 1997-98 called 'The Crazy Eights.' Bryant, who now reps Nike, took notice during the game.
"He kept looking down at my shoes and saying I should be wearing his (new ones)," Johnson said.
Unlike in the 1990's when Michael Jordan ruled the NBA -- and the world for that matter -- there isn't a consensus best player in the league. It's split somewhere down the middle between those in the Bryant camp and those who think the Miami Heat's LeBron James is the games best. Johnson, however, has no shame in admitting he thinks his mentor is the best.
"He has been my favorite player for as long as I can remember," Johnson said.
Love's streak continues
The last time the Wolves played the Lakers on Nov. 19, Kevin Love was held scoreless due in large part to the defense played by Team USA teammate Lamar Odom.
Love called it the worst game of his career and even pointed out that his grandmother had as many points as he did.
Since then he had put up a 46 consecutive double-doubles, the most since Moses Malone had 51 in a row from Dec. 29, 1978 to Oct. 19, 1979
Given the match up and how hard teams have been gunning to be the ones that end the streak, Tuesday's game seemed like a logical bookend for it to come to an end but Love managed to put up number 47 with a 13 point and 11 rebound performance.
To give the numbers even more context, Love has more double-doubles during the current streak than all but six players had all of last season.
Webster continues to sit
Martell Webster sat out of his fourth consecutive game with what is being vaguely referred to as a "sore lower-back" and he is not expected to join the team on the start of its upcoming three game road trip that begins Wednesday night in Detroit.
Webster's injury remains somewhat of a mystery. He missed the first two months of the season after undergoing back surgery in the pre season and has never regained the same spark he showed during training camp and exhibition games.
Rambis has never been forthcoming with injury updates, routinely giving some version of his favorite "I am not a doctor" line and refers the media to speak to Webster himself about it but Webster has remained quiet, turning down multiple requests to speak to the media.
It hasn't been determined if this recent spell of back soreness is related to the earlier surgery but conventional wisdom would lead one to believe that.
Curry officially bought out
The Eddy Curry era is officially over in Minnesota.
The Wolves had to take on Curry and his salary off of the New York Knicks hands in the Nov. 22 trade that landed them Anthony Randolph, cash considerations and a future second-round pick.
Curry never put on a Wolves uniform and it isn't known if he even ever came to the state. Taking on his expiring contract from the Knicks was known to be a necessary-evil when acquiring Randolph, a guy they had their eye on since last spring.
Per team policy, terms of the buyout were not announced and Randolph is now free to join a contender down the stretch and will be eligible for the playoffs.