New beginnings aren’t guaranteed to be easy, but the energy they bring is often undeniable. One could pluck from the other countless examples from sports history — or we could simply travel back in time and visit Target Center on a few specific nights. Like:
Jan. 30, 2006: In the first Timberwolves home game since a big trade that sent Wally Szczerbiak and Michael Olowokandi to the Celtics for Ricky Davis, Mark Blount, Marcus Banks and Justin Reed, the Wolves blasted Boston 110-85.
“A new team breathing new air,” Kevin Garnett said afterward. “We have a lot of potential. It’s up to not only the coaching staff but ourselves to develop that potential. We have a real special thing here.”
The Wolves improved to 21-22 with that win, then went 5-17 in their next 22 games.
Feb. 25, 2015: Garnett’s emotional return to the Wolves in a 97-77 victory. He played just 42 more games for the Wolves that season and next, with Minnesota going 15-27 in those games.
Saturday: With a roster almost completely remade in the course of a few days — and with the centerpiece of that makeover, D’Angelo Russell, sitting out with a short-term injury — the Wolves routed the Clippers 142-115 to end a 13-game losing streak with enthusiasm.
Target Center was buzzing. Fans were ready to anoint Malik Beasley — who made seven of the Wolves’ season-high 26 three-pointers — one of the greatest wings in team history.
“We’ve got a great group of guys,” Beasley said afterward. “[President] Gersson [Rosas] said it’s about patience, getting the right guys and building a chemistry together — and we did that in one day.”
Beasley can be forgiven for getting a little carried away, while coach Ryan Saunders was encouraged but more measured when he said “it’s only one game.”
Indeed, the real proof will be Game 2 (Monday at Toronto) and beyond of the makeover, once the freshness wears off.
Nobody will deny that Saturday was a lot of fun, that the new players seem to fit better and that the Wolves will get another bump once Russell joins the party on the court.
But only time will tell if it was the start of something special or just another temporary reprieve.
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Now that I’ve tried to slow down the hype train, let me speed it up a little and say that Beasley is the kind of quick-release starting wing the Wolves have lacked since … well, forever is a long time and not quite correct, but they are rare in franchise history.
He’s particularly good on catch-and-shoot threes, making 42.2% of that variety of three since the start of the 2018-19 season. If he proves he’s worthy of big minutes over the final 31 games, expect the Wolves to make him a priority as a restricted free agent.
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Any Wolves improvement down the stretch might be relative. They entered Saturday with the third-toughest remaining strength of schedule in the NBA.
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The on-again, off-again Twins trade involving Brusdar Graterol is just another in a series of offseason fiascoes for Major League Baseball.
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The Gophers men’s basketball team is on the wrong side of the bubble in the big NCAA tournament projections right now, but their path to the right side seems pretty clear: Go 5-2 over their last seven regular-season games, which is doable with games against bottom-feeders Northwestern and Nebraska and a home game against fading Indiana.