MINNEAPOLIS -- Gersson Rosas knew he couldn’t make the Timberwolves relevant this season, so he settled on making them as fun as humanly possible.
Well, at least for one night.
With apathy growing across the Twin Cities — a pair of double-digit losing streaks tends to do that to a fan base — Rosas jumped at the opportunity to completely revamp the roster this week.
He started with a palate cleanser of sorts on Tuesday night, shipping Robert Covington out of town in a rather convoluted trade late that ultimately netted the Timberwolves shooting guard Malik Beasley, power forward Juancho Hernangomez and some spare parts.
He then pulled a rabbit out of his hat on Thursday afternoon, acquiring star point guard D’Angelo Russell from the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Andrew Wiggins and some draft picks.
The immediate reaction spoke for itself as the Timberwolves were suddenly the talk of the NBA despite the fact they hadn’t won a game in more than a month.
The buzz continued on Friday afternoon as the organization hosted a press conference at the City Center in Minneapolis to introduce its new players. It wasn’t exactly Jimmy Butler at the Mall of America, though it was pretty darn close all things considered.
In fact, the roster looked so different than a few days ago the Timberwolves treated Saturday’s game like the season opener, going as far as introducing each player by name during pregame introductions.
That said, the massive amounts of hype felt somewhat misguided with the Los Angeles Clippers coming to Target Center. Surely, the Timberwolves were about to come crashing back to reality when the actual game started.
Even though Russell missed the game with a lingering injury, seemingly putting a damper on the night before it even began, the Timberwolves more than made up for it with one of their best performances en route to a rousing 142-115 victory.
While the Timberwolves are far from fixed at this point, and there will certainly be growing pains in the coming months, for 48 minutes they might as well have been the best team in the NBA.
Which is a step in the right direction to say the least.
“You can’t be satisfied,” coach Ryan Saunders said. “I think people can see, when we stick to what we’re looking to build, and we grow this thing, it has potential to be something very special.”
It was a fast start, as Beasley introduced himself to the Twin Cities with a trio of three-pointers in the first quarter alone.
It got even more ridiculous from there as Beasley caught fire in the second quarter to the point where he could’ve spontaneously combusted on the court and it wouldn’t have surprised anyone.
“”I’m always thankful for opportunities,” Beasley said. “I’ve been putting in the extra work to make sure that they don’t regret it.”
It wasn’t only Beasley, though, and that’s what made this win so impressive for the Timberwolves.
While superstar Karl-Anthony Towns got his like he always does, finishing with 22 points, nearly everyone contributed to the victory on this particular night.
Need proof? Jordan McLaughlin, someone most casual fans have never heard of, took over in the third quarter en route to a team-high 24 points.
That paved the way for the fourth quarter, and with the Timberwolves playing most of their reserves with the game well in hand, Naz Reid took the baton, going on a scoring spree to finish with 14 points.
No, this almost certainly will not be the new normal for the Timberwolves. That said, there’s some excitement inside Target Center once again, and that’s a win in and of itself.
“We showed ourselves tonight,” Towns said. “We can’t expect anything less from each other on a nightly basis. This has to be the standard. We can only get better.”