Randolph's Shines Offensively, Defensively Against Heat
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Timberwolves forward Anthony Randolph brought the same mentality throughout this year's shortened training camp and preseason, coming to practice each day displaying an energy that rubbed off on his teammates on the court.
The 6-foot-11, fourth-year player spent those weeks learning new coach Rick Adelman's system. And though he logged three regular season minutes heading into Friday's game against Miami, Randolph continued to work on his game—both offensively and defensively—knowing the opportunity would arise to make an impact when the time came.
On Friday, it happened,
Randolph exploded for 14 points, three rebounds, a steal and a block against the Heat at Target Center. Not only did he show off the sweet shooting ability his teammates have grown to expect from him—he shot 6-of-9 on the night—but he went blow-for-blow with Miami's front court on the defensive end.
He led the way for Minnesota's bench, which scored 57 of the team's points in a 103-101 loss to Miami. That spark is a trend Randolph hopes to continue this winter.
"I'm just trying to learn Adelman's system and find out how I fit in with this team," Randolph said. "But from the outset, it looks like we're a much better team than we were last year. The players have held each other accountable a lot more, and I think it's going to lead us to a lot more wins this year."
It nearly happened against the Eastern Conference favorite Heat. Randolph helped lead a barrage of Wolves second quarter bench scoring, isolating down low and finding ways to get to the rim. He backed down veteran Juwan Howard near the hoop with authority before halftime, and on the other side of the floor he ignited the crowd by rejecting Udonis Haslem with 8;30 left in the fourth.
The former 14th overall pick by Golden State in 2008 is now with his third franchise, having come over from the Knicks in a trade last season. His Timberwolves teammates are pleased he's on their roster because of the presence he brings to the floor.
"He brought a lot of energy for us, and that was huge," guard Wayne Ellington said. "Not only defensively was he a spark, but defensively he was blocking shots, he was there fighting in with those big guys. That was huge for us."
Adelman, who was looking at ways to get Randolph more minutes, had him on the court for half of Friday's contest. He said Randolph made the most of his time on the floor.
"He did a really good job," Adelman said. "He came in, he was very active. He took his opportunities when they were there."
Randolph said that's exactly the type of player he hopes to be for the Wolves.
"Just be that energy guy," he said. "Be that defensive guy, and at times fill in scoring and being that third or fourth scoring option."
Forward Anthony Tolliver when Randolph gets the chance to shoot, he'll find a way to make his shots.
"He's a scorer, and he showed he can do it last night," Tolliver said. "He loves to do it; He loves to shoot the ball, and he's good at it."
The 22-year-old will try to keep that energy high on Sunday against Dallas. Randolph put together his best scoring day of his career against the Mavericks last year, scoring 31 on March 24. But Randolph, who continues to try and fill whatever role the team needs, is more focused on helping the Wolves pick up their first win of the year.
Like they did against Miami, he said the key is believing in each other.
"We have to depend on each other, especially on the defensive end," Randolph said. "I think we've done that a lot this year. We've had some moments where we've reverted back, but for the most part I think we've made a big step in the right direction."
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