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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Beasley leads Wolves over Clippers

By By KENT YOUNGBLOOD, Star Tribune - Minneapolis, MN

Michael Beasley blacked out.

This is his description, mind you. The Wolves' emerging go-to, game-closing threat was on the bench during a timeout, with 14.2 seconds left in a tied game with the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday at Target Center. He knew his was the number being called, but that's about it.

"Honestly, I just black out," Beasley said afterward. After he had taken the inbounds pass, held on to the ball as the clock ticked down, dribbled to the right of the lane and hit a 15-footer over former Wolves player Ryan Gomes, giving the Wolves a 113-111 victory.

"I stop thinking about everything," Beasley continued. " 'Cause when I think it's not really too good."

On Monday in Charlotte, the Wolves lost late when Beasley, his number called, had two turnovers in the final minute. Wednesday he was clutch from start to finish. In a game in which young talent was on display, Beasley scored a game-high 33 points, 10 in the fourth quarter, as the Wolves (4-9) improved to 3-2 on their home court.

Youth? The Wolves have the youngest roster in the league, the Clippers (1-11) the youngest starting five. Both teams figure to get better both with age and when key players return from injury. But Wednesday was a battle of youthful one-two punches. The Wolves had Beasley (33 points, seven rebounds) and Kevin Love (24 and 14). The Clippers countered with forward Blake Griffin (26 and 17) and guard Eric Gordon (30 points, seven assists).

All four know each other. All graduated from high school in the same year.

"I looked out on the court at one time and we had how many guys from the '07 high school class?" Love said. "The average age out there must have been 22."

The play wasn't always crisp. There were young legs, explosions on offense, but not enough defense -- which was the first thing Wolves coach Kurt Rambis noted afterward.

"Our guys couldn't get the defensive job done tonight," Rambis said.

It was tied after one quarter, again at halftime. And five times in the fourth quarter alone.

It seemed Beasley had the answer each time. In the third, down five, he hit a three-pointer and a deuce. Late in the fourth, down two, he hit a 10-foot runner with 1:39 left.

Then, again, with 14.3 seconds left.

"That's what we wanted, an isolation," Rambis said. "Just spread out the shooters so Michael could have space at the top of the floor. ... Just put the ball in a shot-creator's hand, let him go to work."

Beasley, of course, had blacked out and didn't notice that Rambis had pulled his point guard for the last possession until the ball was inbounded to him. And then:

He waited to see what the Clippers would do. Would they bring a double team? No. Surprised? "I'm not Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade, so no," Beasley said.

"I already knew what I was going to do," he continued. "If he let me get to the elbow it was going to be trouble for them. ... Time went down and I just went."

The shot clock buzzer sounded with the ball in the air. Net. Beasley has now scored 25 or more points in five consecutive games. "If he gets on a roll like that, why not?" asked Love. "I'm going to say it all year. He's that assassin guy. ... That's just what's in his blood."


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