Williams, Beasley enjoy increased minutes

February, 29, 2012

Just a couple of years ago, the notion of the Minnesota Timberwolves traveling to Cali to face the Los Angeles Clippers would have made most people's eyes roll back into their heads as they attempted to stave off the boredom of watching two starless teams battle for futility. My, how times have changed. Now the Clippers have Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and are ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers in the battle for first in the Pacific Division, while the Timberwolves' Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and some other youngsters are scrapping for a playoff spot in the West.

Although the Wolves bested the Clips 109-97 Tuesday evening, Love got in early foul trouble and sustained a bruised rib in the third quarter. The league leader in minutes played this season was on the court for just 25 minutes and finished with 10 points and seven boards. Love was available to return, but coach Rick Adelman opted to rest him.

Love's limited workload opened the door for rookie Derrick Williams and Michael Beasley to each score 27 points off the bench. It was a particularly nice night for Williams, who grew up in L.A.; he hit all five free throw attempts and all four 3-point attempts and missed only one of his 10 field goal attempts. Since there have been rumors the Lakers are interested in acquiring Beasley, his outburst in the Staples Center could be seen as a sort of audition for the Lakers. Unfortunately, neither Williams nor Beasley did anything else statistically: 10 boards, one block, zero steals and zero dimes between them.

Assuming that Love's rib injury doesn't worsen overnight, he should be back on the Staples Center court Wednesday night against the Lakers, which means Williams and Beasley would go back to their typical limited production. The talent is there, but the minutes aren't.

Looking back

• We had a minor Devin Harris sighting Tuesday night, as he scored 18 points, dropped a season-high three 3-pointers and dished out seven dimes. In his past five games, he's had at least seven dimes thrice and scored in double digits with at least two steals four times. We can't trust him yet, but we should make sure he's not on waivers in case he's finally settling in.

• The New Jersey Nets babied Brook Lopez as he returned to action last week, but they turned him loose on Tuesday. He played 36 minutes, took 28 shots and finished with 38 points. Of course, he failed to block a shot and pulled in just six boards, but we'll take it. Lopez's inability to board should keep Kris Humphries' value afloat; he had 10 points, 15 boards and 3 blocks.

Richard Hamilton returned from a monthlong absence Tuesday, but he mustered just five points and five assists in 16 minutes of action. He played well when healthy earlier this season, so pick him up if you need some scoring and assists.

Elton Brand returned from his thumb injury and was no worse for wear. He had 10 points, 3 boards, 3 blocks, 3 steals and 3 dimes in 22 minutes. He still holds only minimal value in deeper leagues if you need blocks.

• Despite Anderson Varejao's long-term injury, rookie Tristan Thompson still is coming off the bench. Nonetheless, he mustered 13 points, 10 boards and 2 blocks in 27 minutes of work Tuesday evening. That's three double-doubles in his past four games. You have to figure the Cavs will throw the towel in on this season sooner than later, at which point Thompson may see starter's minutes and become a legit fantasy play.

Looking ahead

• The Lakers confirmed Tuesday that Kobe Bryant sustained a concussion when he was smacked in the face by Dwyane Wade during Sunday's All-Star Game. Although they list him as questionable for Wednesday's battle with the Timberwolves, per the new CBA, he will need to be cleared by the director of the NBA's concussion program before hitting the hardwood. In other words, there's a pretty good chance he will miss his first game of the season Wednesday night.

Paul Millsap was forced from Tuesday's game with a bruised left heel. He finished with just four points and two boards in 25 minutes. His availability for Wednesday's tilt with the Houston Rockets is unclear. However, if he sits, Derrick Favors should be the primary beneficiary and worthy of a spot start in fantasy lineups.



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