Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson’s unusual rotation has veterans sitting out entire games in favor of youngsters. The Minnesota Timberwolves have had no choice but to keep Al Jefferson and Sebastian Telfair off the court.
With Nelson expected to mix up his lineup yet again, the Warriors look to hand the short-handed Timberwolves their seventh straight defeat Tuesday night in a matchup of two of the league’s worst teams.
Golden State (20-39) is kicking off a four-game road trip against a Minnesota club that will play the rest of season without Jefferson (ACL) while hoping Telfair’s groin injury will improve enough for him to return following a one-game absence.
Jefferson’s injury has allowed the Timberwolves (18-41) to give first-round pick Kevin Love more playing time. Golden State, meanwhile, isn’t waiting for injuries to give younger players more time ahead of veterans.
In a 112-104 loss to Utah on Sunday night, the Warriors rested leading scorer Stephen Jackson as part of Nelson’s plan. Jamal Crawford had 20 points in that contest after not being allowed to play in Golden State’s loss to Charlotte two days earlier.
Nelson doesn’t seem to be planning on stopping his new strategy on the Warriors’ road trip.
“Maybe on a couple of occasions,” Nelson said of the possibility of more veterans sitting out. “I don’t know if it’s a good thing to announce that in advance.”
Jackson, who averaged 27.3 points per game during February, should be back in the lineup after the captain watched Sunday’s game in street clothes. He was replaced by rookie Anthony Randolph, who had a career-high 20 points while adding eight rebounds and four blocks.
“I just want to keep on building and not get too excited,” said Randolph, the 14th overall pick. “I just want to stay consistent for the rest of the year.”
At 6-foot-10, Randolph will try to take advantage of Jefferson’s absence. The Wolves are 1-8 since the star center went down, and were clearly outmatched inside by Houston’s Yao Ming in a 105-94 loss Sunday.
Love, selected nine spots ahead of Randolph, was at times forced to play out of position at center and finished with nine points and three rebounds.
Telfair, meanwhile, was replaced by veteran Kevin Ollie after team trainers recommended Telfair sit out to avoid making his injury more serious. Ollie had four points versus the Rockets as Minnesota lost its ninth straight at home and sixth in a row overall.
“What these guys are learning is the NBA is a very, very tough league,” Wolves coach Kevin McHale said. “And teams don’t feel sorry for you. And teams don’t take it easy on you. … That’s a tough lesson. But they’ll be better for it.”
Golden State has lost three straight on the road, where it is 5-24 on the season. The Warriors and Wolves have each won a game at home in this season’s series.