In Wolves debut, Greg Stiemsma impresses on both ends of floor


Wolves backup center Greg Steimsma flustered Kings star DeMarcus Cousins.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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Greg Stiemsma shrugged his broad shoulders, suggesting it was nothing special.

"Just my job," he said. "Come in and block shots, get some rebounds, be a presence in the paint. Let guys know I'm there."

On a night when the Timberwolves bench provided the power source for a season-opening 92-80 victory over Sacramento at Target Center, Stiemsma did ... his job. In 16-plus minutes, the backup center had nine points, seven rebounds, four blocks and a steal. Two of those blocks came in the fourth quarter when the Wolves were nursing a six-point lead.

"He was unbelievable," coach Rick Adelman said. "He was great. I mean, he blocked four shots, rebounded the ball well. And he's a lot better on offense than people give him credit for. Just a solid player."

And just what the Wolves were looking for in the offseason, improvement in their ability to defend the basket. They signed the 27-year-old away from Boston as a restricted free agent.

The 6-11, 260-pound Stiemsma not only blocked four shots, but he influenced others as well.

"He's been amazing," forward Andrei Kirilenko said. "I've seen it in practice. I think he intimidated some Sacramento guys there."

Backing up Nikola Pekovic, Stiemsma was part of a center platoon that gave the Wolves 18 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks.

"Steamer was great tonight," guard J.J. Barea said.

He's really back

Brandon Roy played his first game since the 2011 playoffs with Portland. His parents and a few close family members and friends flew in for the game.

"Minnesota's not as close as Portland, that's a good thing," said Roy, who grew up in Seattle and still lives there. "I had to get a lot of tickets for people in Portland. It's nice to have a cheering section, but once the ball goes up, the season starts and all the excitement goes away. It's time to work."

Love's design

Kevin Love said he will travel with the team this weekend and he intends to be with his teammates "all the time" until his broken hand heals.

Even though he will be in New York on Monday, the All-Star forward said he likely won't revisit for another week or two the specialist there who examined him two weeks ago.

Pay up

Love was not happy last winter when the Wolves offered him a four-year contract extension rather than the one maximum five-year deal they are allowed. So what did he think about Houston giving fellow U.S. Olympian James Harden a five-year extension worth nearly $80 million after acquiring him from Oklahoma City on Saturday?

"A little surprised, but I think they were willing to make an investment in him and he's a franchise-type player," Love said. "I was very happy for him. I definitely thought he'd get the four-year, 60 [million], but the 80 surprised me. But he's an unbelievable player."

Uncle Wes?

Love sat in a makeup chair for six hours, a sitting that turned him into an old man for Kyrie Irving's latest "Uncle Drew" commercial for Pepsi Max. Spectators at Los Angeles' Crenshaw playground knew Irving was under all that Uncle Drew makeup, but they weren't quite sure who the other old guy named only "Wes" was.

"Some people were calling me Luke Walton at first," Love said, referring to Irving's Cavaliers teammate, a former Lakers forward. "Honestly, they thought I was an old guy because I was limping and acting like I had a hip injury. You know, we had a lot of fun with it."

Calling the Tooth Fairy

Sacramento guard Aaron Brooks lost a front tooth Wednesday in Chicago when his face was driven into the floor. A trainer went out at a timeout and retrieved the tooth.

"He put it on his pillow, but he didn't get any money," Kings coach Keith Smart said, referring to a player Sacramento signed as a free agent to a two-year contract this summer. "Oh yes he did, he got some from us already."


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