NEW ORLEANS – The Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros played one Game 7 baseball game Wednesday night to win the World Series.
Timberwolves coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau has been there, done that.
Not for a World Series championship, of course.
Instead, he coached one Game 7 when he was a Houston assistant, one Game 7 when he was Chicago’s head coach and four when he was Boston’s associate head coach to Doc Rivers.
Included was Boston’s 2010 Game 7 loss in the NBA Finals to the Lakers in Los Angeles just two seasons after the Celtics beat L.A. in six games.
“It’s the ultimate, there’s nothing better than a Game 7,” Thibodeau said before Wednesday’s game at New Orleans. “It’s the ultimate challenge. There are great plays. It’s exciting.”
Wolves veteran guard Jamal Crawford has played five Game 7s in his 18-year NBA career. None was to win a championship, but each was to advance in the playoffs and every one was memorable.
In five seasons with Los Angeles, his Clippers beat San Antonio and Golden State in Game 7s and lost to Houston and Utah.
“It’s just like the slogan, ‘Win or Go Home,’ ” Crawford said. “It really is. The pressure is there every possession, all 20,000 people are into it wherever you’re playing because that one possession can cost you the game and the series.”
And on special nights, one play can win or lose a season’s quest for a title. He and Rivers still lament that 2010 Game 7 loss, 83-79.
“I prefer ’08,” Thibodeau said dryly. “You don’t want to be on the other end. It never goes away. You just try to deal with it and go around it.”
Three true blue stars
Wednesday’s game brought together New Orleans’ DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis with the Wolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns.
All three are uniquely skilled for men so big. All three also attended Kentucky separately for one season.
“The only thing I can tell you is if I had a kid who was a center, I’d send him to Kentucky,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “I don’t know a lot, but I do know that he would definitely be going to Kentucky. Unfortunately, my kid is 6-1.”
Dante chose Pelicans
The Wolves recruited their former forward Dante Cunningham aggressively as a free agent late last summer before he re-signed with the Pelicans. He starts next to Cousins and Davis in their frontcourt now.
“We talked to him quite a bit,” Thibodeau said. “We liked him. People felt strongly about him from the time he was here before. He did what he thought was best for himself and his family. You can play him on a ‘4’ [power forward]. You can play him on a ‘3’ [small forward]. But he plays for the team and I don’t think you can overlook that.”
Shooting coach moved
Former Wolves shooting coach Mike Penberthy is now on Gentry’s staff as an assistant coach after he worked independently with Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday for years. He worked extensively with Ricky Rubio during his time as a coach and a consultant in Minnesota.
“If you see his clientele list, guys like Paul George and so many other really good players, I thought it’d be great to have him on the staff,” Gentry said.
• Wolves point guard Jeff Teague made it through Halloween without any encounters with a haunted house — one of his great dislikes — even in spooky New Orleans. “I don’t want anything to do with Halloween, never have,” he said. “It’s the masks. I want to see who you are.”
• Wolves star Jimmy Butler grew up near Houston, but he’s not an Astros fan now that he spends his summers in Malibu, Calif. “I’m from L.A. now,” he said.