Wolves' reserve big man Greg Stiemsma 'understands exactly who he is'
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves are 3-1 to start a season for the first time in over a decade after Wednesday's 90-75 win over the Orlando Magic, and once again it was strong bench play that helped them to victory.
That strong bench play was led by Greg Stimsma, who finished with 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting -- all of which came in a five-minute stretch bridging the third and fourth quarters that led the Wolves on a 13-3 run that effectively killed off a lowly Magic team coming off a back-to-back.
Stiemsma, who was signed over the summer to be an energy guy off the bench, has displayed strong rebounding and shot-blocking abilities early on. The scoring touch on Wednesday was an added bonus.
"He knocks down the open shot and he is in the right place at the right time," coach Rick Adelman said. "I know he could shoot it but he is really skilled and really smart. He goes to the right place at the right time."
It wasn't just his mid-range jump shot that contributed to the victory. He did all of the little things that made him an attractive signing for the Wolves, blocking shots, taking charges and hustling. He finished with five boards, two blocked shots and a steal in 21 minutes. Four games into the season he is fifth in the league in blocked shots.
Stiemsma understands his role, rarely plays outside of it, and also cheers loudly on the bench -- a refreshing sign for Wolves fans to see after seasons full of apathetic malcontents rounding out the team's roster in recent years.
"In our league a lot of times you get your mind wrapped around that you want Dwight Howard," Adelman said. "Sometimes you just need somebody that does his job and that's what he does. ...
"He understands exactly who he is and how he can help the team. He is a great teammate."
Stiemsma's teammates have picked up on that, lauding the journeyman who played two stints in Turkey, one in South Korea and multiple stops in the D-League before making a name for himself with the Boston Celtics last season.
"You haven't seen him in practice. He is a killer," Andrei Kirilenko said. "He has those mid-range jumpers, oh my god."
Added Luke Ridnour, "I am just so happy for him. It is hard to believe that this is just his second season (in the NBA)."
And don't think for a second that Stiemsma isn't going to enjoy every second of his time in the NBA after spending five seasons as a basketball vagabond.
"Any chance I get to be on this stage, I am going to love every minute of it," he said. "Part of that is just enjoying the game. Last year was the same way. I feel like this is the highest level, this is where guy wasn't to be. ...
"I know a million guys who would kill to be where I am at so I am going to enjoy it."