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Timberwolves' Kurt Rambis should find Minnesota very green

Chances are, the coach will learn what it's like to lose, really lose. Rambis' team is one of the youngest in the NBA and has its second-worst record. Fortunately, he's feeling patient.

December 18, 2009|By Broderick Turner

Reporting from New York — All Kurt Rambis has known in his professional basketball career is winning.

Now Rambis is the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves and winning will not be an easy thing for him.

He has one of the youngest teams in the NBA, which means Rambis will have his patience tested.

But the good thing is Rambis, 51, is up to the task.

"I've worked with so many young ballplayers that I know how long it takes for them to learn skills and to develop their habit, to break old habits," Rambis said. "It takes a long time. I have a whole team of guys like that.

"So you can't get anxious. You can't get become impatient because it only tightens them up and restricts their development. So, I have to have patience. I knew that coming in, that I was going to have to have tremendous patience this year."

Rambis won four NBA championships as a player with the Lakers, two as an assistant coach with the team and two working in the team's front office.

His Timberwolves are far from being championship material. They are 4-22, which is the second worst record in the NBA.

But Minnesota won at Utah on Monday night -- which was the second time this season the Timberwolves have defeated the Jazz -- and Rambis' team has won at Denver. That means three of the Timberwolves' four victories have come against teams with a record above .500.

For Rambis, who signed a four-year, $8-million contract with Minnesota, it's about teaching his team the game. "I want them to learn about basketball," Rambis said, "and I want them to play it the right way."

Not so bullish

In watching the Chicago Bulls, you see a team that has a hard problem scoring. The Bulls really don't have an inside presence, which doesn't help their offense.

They are mostly a perimeter team, relying on second-year point guard Derrick Rose to penetrate and dish. Against the Lakers on Tuesday, the Bulls scored just 14 points in the fourth quarter, making six of 27 shots, shooting just 22.7% from the field.

Chicago is next to last in scoring in the NBA, averaging just 90.2 points per game, just ahead of the woeful New Jersey Nets.

The Bulls (8-15) don't resemble the team that lost in the first round of the playoffs last season to the Boston Celtics, taking them to seven games.

Bulls Coach Vinny Del Negro is under pressure, and there has been talk that his job is in jeopardy.

"It's a long season," Del Negro said after the Bulls lost to the Lakers, 96-87. "We are battling through some things right now."

Lakers-Celtics finals?

An NBA scout in Chicago asked me if it was inevitable that the Lakers and Boston Celtics meet in the NBA Finals. It sure looks that way.

The Lakers and Celtics are close in so many ways. They both have the same record, an NBA-best 20-4.

They both are tops in the league in offense and defense. The Lakers average 103.7 points per game, the Celtics 100.7

The Lakes give up 95.5 points per game, the sixth-best defense-points-wise in the league; the Celtics, just 91.1, tops in the NBA.

The last time the Lakers and Celtics met in the NBA Finals in 2008, Boston won in six games and in convincing fashion.

Boston was meaner, tougher and more physical than the Lakers. The Lakers have grown and have shown signs that they can handle that style of play.

The Lakers are looking to catch the Celtics for the most NBA championships. Boston has 17, the most in the league, and the Lakers' franchise has 15, second most.

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