Wolves rookie Muhammad responds after opportunity

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 1, 2014 - 12:55 AM

The Wolves rookie played well when he finally got an opportunity. Will he get more?

hide

Ricky Rubio (9) and Shabazz Muhammad talked things over as they faced the Trail Blazers last Sunday.

Photo: JIM GEHRZ • jgehrz@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

– For a moment there in Tuesday’s fourth quarter — or maybe for all of it — Timberwolves rookie forward Shabazz Muhammad played the game the way he always had.

“I was so in the game,” he said. “I was in the zone.”

He was in that game at Phoenix so much he claimed he never looked toward Wolves coach Rick Adelman to see if a guy who has barely played when it mattered until Saturday might be coming out.

He never did.

Muhammad played every second of the fourth quarter, and a career-high 24 minutes. His scoring, rebounding and physical presence proved fundamental in a comeback from eight points behind with eight minutes remaining in a critical 110-101 victory over the Suns.

“Fourth quarter,” he said, “that’s always been my time.”

And so it was once again Tuesday, when he scored 10 of his 20 points and had five of his six rebounds in that fourth quarter.

That’s the way it always had been since he was an AAU phenom — says so right on his Twitter handle @phenomballa15 — and nationally acclaimed prep prospect at Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High School all the way through one uneven collegiate season at UCLA.

Then he arrived this season in the NBA and Minnesota, where he sat and watched — except for a four-game D-League assignment in January — until three games ago.

Adelman called upon Muhammad beginning last Saturday at Utah because he needed to replace 38 points missing by the absence of injured starters Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin. He was drafted 14th overall last summer specifically because of his scoring ability.

On Tuesday, he supplied that scoring more inside than outside as well as providing a physical presence on the backboards at both ends of the court.

His performance was what Adelman praised as staying within his strengths rather than hunting for shots.

“That’s what he can do,” Adelman said. “Sometimes young people don’t take that to heart when they’re not playing. I told him all along it’s a long season here. He had an opportunity with all the injuries, and he really produced. He gives us a lot of energy. He’s not going to back away. We knew that. Every practice he doesn’t back away. It’s good to see him get results.”

Adelman praised Muhammad’s competitiveness and offensive rebounding way back in training camp last October. Then the regular season arrived and Muhammad became something beyond an afterthought while Adelman turned, understandably, to veterans Martin, Corey Brewer and Chase Budinger and, surprisingly, to fellow rookie Robbie Hummel, a player Adelman praised for always being in the right place at the right time.

“We see it all the time from him in practice,” teammate Kevin Love said of Muhammad. “He took advantage of the opportunity [Tuesday]. He’s a rookie so he’s still learning, but he’s going to get better.

‘‘He’s a strong kid. There’s an intensity and a physicality he brings to the game. [Phoenix forward P.J.] Tucker is a physical player, and he’s out there pushing people around, and Bazz matched that. He’s 21 years old. There’s a lot of room to improve there, but there’s a lot of strength.”

Muhammad’s only previous emergence was that four-game D League assignment, where he averaged 24.5 points.

“Definitely a different feeling,” he said, comparing the D League Showcase in Reno, Nev., to a Tuesday night in Phoenix. “This is the best of the best.”

  • wolves at sacramento

    9 p.m. today • TV: FSN (830-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston - LP: D. Keuchel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: B. McCarthy 3
Cleveland - LP: C. Kluber 1 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: P. Hughes 4
Detroit - LP: D. Price 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: A. Cobb 1
Arizona - LP: O. Perez 0 FINAL
Washington - WP: R. Soriano 1
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: T. Wada 2
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 8 FINAL
Cincinnati - LP: D. Holmberg 0
LA Angels - WP: M. Shoemaker 2 FINAL
Boston - LP: R. De La Rosa 0
San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 5 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 3
San Diego - LP: T. Ross 1 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 2
Pittsburgh 21 FINAL
Philadelphia 31
Carolina 8/22/14 6:30 PM
New England
NY Giants 8/22/14 6:30 PM
NY Jets
Jacksonville 8/22/14 6:30 PM
Detroit
Oakland 8/22/14 7:00 PM
Green Bay
Chicago 8/22/14 9:00 PM
Seattle
Tampa Bay 8/23/14 3:30 PM
Buffalo
Tennessee 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Dallas 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Washington 8/23/14 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New Orleans 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Indianapolis
Minnesota 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Houston 8/23/14 8:00 PM
Denver
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Arizona
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:00 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
Montreal 8/22/14 7:30 PM
Winnipeg
Toronto 8/23/14 3:00 PM
Edmonton
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 2:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Washington 73 FINAL
Indiana 78
San Antonio 84 FINAL
Minnesota 88
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How do you like the Kevin Love trade?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close