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Timberwolves Can't Keep Up With Jones : Lakers: Rookie guard is impressive with 31 points and four blocked shots in 122-99 victory over Minnesota.


MINNEAPOLIS — The sunset of one career upon them, the Lakers got a glimpse at the dawn of another Wednesday night at the Target Center, with the Minnesota Timberwolves along as the witnesses and victims all at once.

If that's not credible enough, the New York Knicks will be glad to supply additional testimony. Maybe even the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks too. Eddie Jones has been that impressive in his first four games as a pro, though never more than when he scored 31 points on 12-of-15 shooting and blocked four shots at shooting guard to lead the Lakers' 122-99 rout of the Timberwolves before 15,892.

"Well," Coach Del Harris said, "Eddie's getting everyone's attention on this trip."

Jones had shown Harris enough during training camp and eight exhibition games to be named the starter despite no NBA experience, the coach even predicting that he could be a first-team all-rookie selection this season. Executive Vice President Jerry West has hardly been able to contain his enthusiasm over the No. 10 pick.

Then came the tough part.

Living up to the expectations.

In the opener last Friday at Detroit, Jones got in foul trouble, but still managed six rebounds in 28 minutes.

The next night at Milwaukee, he had 10 points, five rebounds and three steals in 27 minutes.

Tuesday at New York, the biggest challenge of the trip, he had 15 points, eight rebounds and six steals in 28 minutes. Only two Lakers had more than six steals all last season.

It took him only 26 minutes to turn the Timberwolves into wreckage and help the Lakers to a split of the season-opening four-game trip. Four blocked shots? The only teammates to have more than three during 1993-94 were 7-1 Vlade Divac and 6-11 Elden Campbell.

Jones is 6-6 and a scrawny 190 pounds, but his stature is getting taller by the minute.

"You know what impressed me?" Harris said. "That with that thin body, he is fearless. He goes after everything. He wasn't intimidated going into the pile (for a loose ball Tuesday) with (Charles) Oakley, (Patrick) Ewing and (Charles) Smith. And how about that block tonight on Donyell Marshall?"

That came late in the third quarter, when Marshall, the Timberwolves' 6-9 rookie small forward, came down the right side with a clear path to the basket for a layup. At least it was clear until Jones came from behind and smacked the ball aside. The Laker bench, a few feet away, erupted.

"I don't fear anybody," Jones said. "I don't care who they are."

The Lakers are off today, when James Worthy will announce his retirement. Then the attention will turn back to the future Friday night, with the home opener against the Denver Nuggets, and with Jones heading into his first regular-season game at the Forum averaging 16 points, 5.8 rebounds and three blocked shots in only 27.3 minutes while shooting 59.1%.

"Actually, I wanted to play a lot better," he said. "I could have played a lot better against Milwaukee, the Knicks and even the first night against the Pistons."

And the Timberwolves?

"I don't think I played great defense tonight," he said.

Marshall would beg to differ.

Laker Notes

Elden Campbell, who went without a rebound in 24 minutes the first two games and got benched in the third, had 16 points, a game-high nine rebounds and two blocked shots in 24 minutes off the bench. . . . Cedric Ceballos scored 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting. . . . Isaiah Rider led Minnesota with 27 points. . . . The Timberwolves are 0-4 and have lost all four games by an average of 22.1 points. It gets worse. They announced before the game that point guard Micheal Williams will be sidelined six to eight weeks because of a heel injury.

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