Summer League is good practice for Shabazz Muhammad
Monday wasn’t Shabazz Muhammad’s most memorable day on the court.
Completely squandering a 24-point lead to the Phoenix Suns, Minnesota went to the UCLA product with the game tied in the final seconds. Muhammad, already having a rough shooting day (3-9 from the field, 1-5 from the line), had the ball wrestled away from him by his defender, and Phoenix’s Marcus Morris drilled a contested fadeaway jumper at the buzzer to give the Suns an improbable 91-89 victory.
But Tuesday was better. Minnesota needed one more bucket to put away the Miami Heat, yet the 2012-13 NBA champions’ Summer League team was proving pesky. Once 20, the lead was down to seven with less than two minutes to go.
Enter Muhammad: Teammate Kee Kee Clark found the Minnesota rookie open on the wing, and Muhammad did the work from there, drilling the three to essentially put the game on ice.
“It’s a big court, and I gotta space out a lot,” Muhammad said after the Timberwolves upended the Heat 80-71. “You just gotta be patient and ready to hit that shot.”
The stats aren’t exactly bad for Muhammad -- nine points per game on 39 percent shooting and 44 percent accuracy from beyond the arc through five games -- but they aren’t exactly Shabazz-esque, either. However, the No. 14 overall pick of the 2013 draft isn’t overly concerned with his Summer League numbers, looking at the July event as a chance to get better prepared for his first NBA season.
“I can’t wait to get out there in the regular season,” he said. “This is just practice right now to help me get experience to get in the league. I’m not sweating it, just trying to play as hard as I can.”
The Las Vegas native enjoyed the chance to play in his hometown again, as Muhammad had a storied career at Bishop Gorman High School before his UCLA days. The trip back to Vegas also, of course, brought about questions concerning his relationship with his father Ron Holmes, who Muhammad set new ground rules with to prepare for life in the NBA.
“It’s great; we talk on the phone a lot. It’s not as hands-on as it used to be, but that’s expected as you’re in the NBA now,” he said of his relationship with his father. “He knows this coaching staff cares about me and is going to help me out a lot so we just talk on the phone and that’s it.”
Muhammad has one game remaining in Vegas before the focus shifts to getting ready for training camp in the fall, as Minnesota takes on Portland (and former Cal sharpshooter Allen Crabbe) Friday at 7:30 p.m. PT.
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