Mbah a Moute pays way for his French fan club

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Wolves forward Luc Mbah a Moute snuck around the hoop for a basket against Houston's Omer Asik.

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

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Tuesday night, Luc Mbah a Moute’s biggest fans, after a year of trying, finally got to see him live.

A friend of Mbah a Moute used to play for Basket Club Nyonsais, a club located near Avignon in the south of France. After he told them about Mbah a Moute, many at the club began following his career. They decided to hold fundraisers with the idea of traveling to the United States to watch him play.

They originally bought tickets to watch him play for Milwaukee (coincidentally the Timberwolves’ opponent Tuesday at Target Center). But he got traded to Sacramento before they could get there.

So they changed their tickets, deciding to come over for a two-game trip, to watch Mbah a Moute play for Sacramento in Brooklyn and Philadelphia this week. But, of course, Mbah a Moute got traded to the Wolves. Ultimately the fans decided to stick with the trip. But when Mbah a Moute heard about it, he paid for tickets to bring the fans from New York to the Twin Cities after Sunday’s game, get them into Tuesday’s game, then get them to Philadelphia in time to watch the Kings play there Wednesday.

“They weren’t going to come to Minnesota,” he said. “They already had the flights set up. When I found that out, I had to make it happen so they could come here. We worked it out.”

As a result, 12 players between ages 15 and 18 got here, had dinner Monday night with Mbah a Moute and Ronny Turiaf, and were at Tuesday’s game.

Unfortunately, they didn’t get to see him play. Mbah a Moute was the only Wolves player in uniform not to see action in their 112-101 victory.

Welcome home

Rookie Nate Wolters made his 26th start of the season for the Bucks, and there were a whole lot of friends and family on hand to watch.

Wolters played high school ball at St. Cloud Tech before starring at South Dakota State. A second-round pick by Washington on draft day, he was involved in two trades that day, eventually landing with the Bucks.

Good thing, too. Because, on opening night in New York, veteran Brandon Knight hurt his hamstring. With Luke Ridnour also hurt, Wolters entered the game and became the first Bucks second-round pick to play more than 30 minutes in his first NBA game.

So, after making his debut in Madison Square Garden, coming home for his first pro game in Minnesota wasn’t a big deal.

“I looked like a week ago and realized we were playing ’em,” he said. “It will be just another game. But it will be fun playing the team I grew up watching.”

Said Wolters: “Not too many second-round picks get this kind of opportunity. I’m still learning, but I’m getting more comfortable.”

Wolters is averaging 7.1 points and 3.3 assists per game. His assist-to-turnover ratio (3.55) is fifth best in the league.

“He’s been nothing but a real pro,” Milwaukee coach Larry Drew said. “He’s going to have a very, very long career in the NBA.”

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