Around the NBA: Wolves learning . . . Ginobili’s grand
The Minnesota Timberwolves hit a bit of a bump when they were routed Wednesday night by the Golden State Warriors, who were playing without Kevin Durant. Still, one of the more intriguing teams in the NBA is off to an excellent start, among the top teams in the Western Conference with a 7-4 record heading into Thursday. Included in those seven wins were five in a row, and the last time a Minnesota team rattled off five straight was Jan. 2 to 10, 2009. But with so much of the season to go and a relatively young team, coach Tom Thibodeau isn’t going to let them get too full of themselves: “Obviously, it’s better than losing, but . . . there’s another one coming tomorrow, so if you start feeling good about yourself, you’re going to get knocked down.” That was before the Warriors spanked them, so the coach knows what of he speaks.
SPUR OF THE MILESTONE
The ageless Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs went past the 1,000game mark this week, and there’s never been a player who’s had such an impact over that period of time. Now, a lot of it has to do with the franchise he’s spent his entire career with, but of the first 1,000 games the Argentine wonder played, he was on the winning side 728 times — the most ever by a player at the 1,000game plateau. Not surprisingly, second-best was Tony Parker with 718 and Tim Duncan won 707 of his first 1,000 for fourth on the list. Former Bull Scottie Pippen (715) broke up the Spurs domination and sits third.
There are some certainties this time of year: October and November come and the weather changes, the NBA season begins, and the Philadelphia 76ers stumble out of the game as The Process drones on. But times, and the team’s fortunes, are changing. When Philadelphia beat the Indiana Pacers last weekend and then toppled the Utah Jazz on Tuesday, it ran their record to 6-4 heading into Thursday at Sacramento. Regardless of how that turns out, the Sixers will have a winning record on Friday morning and this marks the first week they’ve been over .500 on any November morning since 2013.
Jared Sullinger, whose all-to-brief stint with the Raptors was ruined by pre-season foot surgery a year ago, seems to have found a nice new home. Having washed out with three NBA teams — Boston, Toronto and Phoenix after the Raptors dealt him for P.J. Tucker — Sullinger is having a wonderful season in China with the Shenzhen Leopards. So good that the six-foot-nine forward set a new high in China’s CBA last weekend with 55 points against Xinjiang. He began this week averaging 47.3 points and 17.7 rebounds per game.
The Sacramento Kings upset the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday for their second win in 10 games, and were going after No. 3 when they hosted the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night. Two wins, or even three, are nothing really to crow about, but the Kings are trying to end one of the longest stretches of futility of the recent era and every victory counts. Sacramento has not put together a season of 35 wins or more in the last 10, and the march to even mediocrity is long. It’s almost impossible for a bad team to stay that bad for so long. The Kings are the gold standard when it comes to poor records.
Manu Ginobili’s first 1,000 games in the NBA with the mighty Spurs were hard to beat.