OAKLAND, CALIF. – Reaction to Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine’s in-your-face dunk Friday over big man Alex Len in Phoenix was swift and wide-ranging, particularly on LaVine’s Twitter and Instagram feeds.
“It was everywhere; everybody was talking about it,” LaVine said before Saturday’s game at Golden State. “It was a good dunk. I don’t know why he jumped, but it was a good dunk.”
Well, not everybody was talking about it. Or at least not excitedly as were LaVine’s teammates, who erupted with joyous noise after the two-time All Star dunk-contest winner rose up over the 7-footer and threw one down.
“I don’t get excited about stuff like that,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I get excited about stuff that wins, so I liked our defense. That’s the important thing. I hope we can get to the point where we’re talking about the things that go into winning and get away from the sideshows.”
LaVine’s Friday dunk came two days after teammate Andrew Wiggins posted online video of a spinning 360-degree dunk LaVine did at Wednesday’s morning shooting in New Orleans.
Asked if his coach gets excited about a dunk, LaVine said: “No, not at all. He was yelling get back on defense. He has seen too many of those.”
The Warriors welcomed back Wolves guard Brandon Rush with a video remembrance during Saturday’s first timeout. The franchise is doing the same for every player from last season’s 73-victory team who is playing elsewhere this season.
Asked before the game if he has had a video welcome before, Rush said, “Actually, I have, when I went back to [Kansas]. I’m looking forward to it. I’ll pay attention, trust me.”
Wolves forward Adreian Payne and the Warriors’ injured Draymond Green played two seasons together at Michigan State. Green has gone on to NBA stardom, reinventing his position in a system he fits perfectly while Payne is trying to find his way in the NBA.
“Draymond likes to beat the odds,” Payne said of Green, who missed Saturday’s game because of an ankle he injured Friday in Los Angeles. “He’s a great player, smart IQ. You know he’s tough. He has always had that, and you need some of that in the NBA. He definitely has made it in the right situation at the right time for him.”
Learning from the best
Thibodeau spent part of his season’s sabbatical a year ago studying coach Steve Kerr and Golden State’s ways during two different visits.
“He spent a lot of time with us, and it was fun to pick his brain,” Kerr said. “Obviously, he’s one of the best coaches in the game. I’m happy for him. He’s bounced back into a really good spot with a team that has a bright future.”
• Wolves forward Shabazz Muhammad scored a career-high 35 points the last time the Wolves came to Oakland. That was last April, when they beat the Warriors 124-117 in overtime. “I was really feeling it,” he said. “I was in there for a nice bit of time and got to get my rhythm under me. That’s the biggest thing I need when I’m playing.”
• Thibodeau coached Warriors stars Kevin Durant, Green and Klay Thompson on last summer’s U.S. Olympic team. “Whenever you’re around anybody who is great at something, you’re going to learn something,” Thibodeau said. “You see their drive and all they’ve accomplished, their hunger to improve and get better. I think that’s what makes them special.”