PORTLAND, ORE. – Informed of the result by team broadcaster Jim Petersen at halftime, Timberwolves reserve point guard Tyus Jones’ text messages by the end of Saturday’s 112-100 loss at Portland told the story of what happened back home at Target Center that night.
Jones’ younger brother, Tre, and Apple Valley High won the Minnesota Class 4A title earlier Saturday evening by beating Champlin Park, their second title in three years. They did so with Tre doing some of everything in the final, decisive minutes on his way to a 24-point, 18-rebound, five-assist performance that caused his coach to reaffirm one more time that he’s a “once in a lifetime” player.
Even if maybe he isn’t at the moment the best in his family.
“He’s not there yet,” Tyus said with a grin, “but he’s definitely on his way at a fast rate.”
Tyus’ Timberwolves teammates agree, and playfully.
“I keep telling him his brother is going to be better than him if he keeps going, and I think Tyus doesn’t discredit that one bit,” Wolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns said. “He’s fortunate. He has a big brother like Tyus who can teach him everything he knows on the NBA level, all the little knicks and knacks that he learns from the game. To teach his brother in high school, I wish I had an older brother like that.”
Tyus has won one state high school title and an NCAA title in his career. Tre has won two prep championships and could make it three next year, his senior year.
When Tyus checked his phone from Moda Center, the celebration after a 60-54 victory had commenced after his brother scored on a layup, assisted on two other made baskets and grabbed two rebounds, all in the final minute.
“They’re having fun,” Tyus said, smiling. “It sounds like the finish was very exciting. I’m very happy for him. He works his tail off and a lot of people wrote him and Apple Valley off this year. He deserves it.”
Tyus talked to his brother on Saturday afternoon before the title game and called him on his way out of Moda Center after the Wolves lost their sixth consecutive game, this time after Blazers guards CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard combined to score 53.
Tyus said he told his brother to continue to “play with that chip” on his shoulder.
“Lead his team, be the best player on the court and find a way,” Jones said before both of Saturday’s games. “I’m real confident in him tonight.”
And as it turns out, with good reason on a night when a point guard just like his big brother grabbed 18 rebounds.
“He’s a crazy rebounder,” Tyus said. “He does a little bit of everything.”
By the bootstraps
The Wolves allowed their opponent 100 or more points Saturday for the ninth consecutive game. They also allowed the Trail Blazers 62.5 percent shooting, the best by an opponent this season.
After Saturday’s game, Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau was asked if his team is experiencing a collective fatigue and letup late in the season.
“I don’t know whether it’s collective,” Thibodeau said. “Every team plays the same amount of games. They go through the same things you’re going through. You get into stuff together, you get out of stuff together. You have to be mentally tough. There’s games we let get away that we should have won. You learn from it, you get ready for the next one.”
Bypassed by the Wolves in the 2013 draft, McCollum followed his career-high 43 points against them on New Year’s Day at Target Center by scoring 32 Saturday.
Afterward, he admitted playing with a little extra something against teams that passed him by. The Wolves traded the ninth pick that year to Utah for the 14th and 21st picks. The Wolves took Trey Burke for the Jazz and the Jazz took Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng for the Wolves and the Blazers then took McCollum 10th.
“I think over the course of my career I’ve played well against teams that didn’t draft me,” said McCollum, who has scored 20 or more points against the Wolves four consecutive times.