Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 11/3/12
MINNEAPOLIS With 67 seconds remaining in the Timberwolves' 2012 home opener, the sold-out Target Center crowd at once took its feet. It was uncanny, almost, the unity with which an entire arena rose and realized that the season it had been dreaming of since long before the last one ever ended would begin with a win. The fans got just a minute to revel in it. They should have had more time, perhaps, after the Timberwolves' early dominance, but a minute was enough. When a city is conditioned to believe that a blown lead can't be recouped and the fourth quarter is for listless sputtering, nights like Friday can be excruciating. When the Timberwolves ceded the lead to the Kings in the third quarter, it was easy to imagine the bottom had dropped out, that this team had regressed to some rougher, rawer form of its preseason self. Last season, stumbles became spirals into losses that no one wanted to talk about, much less think about. Last season, everyone held their breath and waited for that moment when things would fall out of reach. Last season Last season Last season If Friday proved anything, it's that it's time to forget about last season. The Timberwolves' comeback against the Kings, which they parlayed into a 92-80 win, wouldn't have happened last April. No way. And here they are, just one game into this season, with proof that it can happen now. There's proof that a messy game does not necessarily mean a loss, that struggling to score does not necessarily spell doom. It's all so fresh, this notion of coming back. It makes you want to talk about it all day, to pick it apart and figure out what tipped the scales. And yet there's barely anyone to ask about it. J.J. Barea, who led the Timberwolves with 21 points, might have a few choice words about the end of last season and those blown games. But Dante Cunningham won't. Neither will Greg Stiemsma or Chase Budinger. Brandon Roy can't speak to it, and Andrei Kirilenko was happily ensconced in Russia when game after game slipped away in Minnesota. That might be the best thing about this new-look team. It has no cause to dwell, no little voice in the back of its collective brain demonically whispering that these kinds of things can't happen, that they're the Timberwolves after all, and such is their fate. Last year, it took 20 points and 10 rebounds from Kevin Love, a slew of assists from Ricky Rubio and a dominant Nikola Pekovic in the paint to win. This year, winning can be a different beast. Before the game, Sacramento coach Keith Smart talked about the difficulty of planning for a team without its stars. Difficulty? Really? But Smart had a good point, as if he somehow saw the game's messy, hodge-podge energy coming at him an hour before it started. "A team when their stars are out is pretty dangerous, Smart said. "It can be any guy on any given night at a particular time in the game. And so it was. Barea off the bench was likened to a tornado postgame in the locker room. It was a nickname so convincing that Will Conroy stuck with it, yelling across the room to try to get Tornado's attention. Greg Stiemsma did everything, scoring nine points to complement his seven rebounds and four blocked shots. Dante Cunningham's defense hummed and sprung, and in the end, it was energy and resilience that tidied the mess. The Timberwolves won the game by 12 points while missing 15 of 17 3-pointers and 10 free throws. They shot just 36.8 percent from the field and had just 17 assists (four of which came on their first four scores). They did all that without signing a death sentence, and for that, they should be proud. "Offensively we've got a long ways to go, coach Rick Adelman said. "We missed so many shots, but we stayed with it in the fourth quarter. "We're trying to figure out how we're going to score when the game's on the line. We don't know right now. We're just kind of searching for it. Searching for it. The same could be said for the end of last season, but back then, it was undefined. It was all the things the Timberwolves hinted at on Friday: energy, resilience, contributions across the board. Now, that missing it is offense, and to ease into it will not spell certain losses. There's something fun about this team that's so clearly an underdog from the outset without its stars. It's not in fighting shape, not yet, but with these players and this coach, it gives the impression that it can someday be. "I think that goes back to our team's maturity and our defense, Cunningham said. "To be able to withstand a barrage like that to kind of get a time out, get our composure and come back out there and take care of business, that just goes to our maturity. With 8:47 remaining in the third quarter, Tyreke Evans drove the ball to the basket and scored, cutting the Timberwolves' lead to three. The defense seemed to be coming undone, and offense was hardly there to fall back on. But the game marched on, and as the Timberwolves took the ball back down the court, Stiemsma got out of his seat on the bench and took a step forward. He watched, leaning forward a bit as if urging the ball along and into the proper hands. He clapped, even as Kirilenko missed a jump shot. Stiemsma wasn't conditioned to believe that the whole thing was blown by a sloppy run. Neither is this team, and that's its greatest asset. Follow Joan Niesen on Twitter.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
One Gotta Go: NFL legends talking comedians is no joke
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Madden 17's live commentary tackles Kaepernick controversy

Calvin Johnson to join DWTS, sister says he ‘can’t dance’

Eagles rookie nixes anthem protest after talking to agent

Report: Romo has no ligament damage, to resume training soon

Michael Phelps to be honored with unique Wheaties box

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Woman suing Brewers after being struck by foul ball

Report: ‘Strong chance’ J.J. Watt will play in Week 1

Broncos name Trevor Siemian their Week 1 starter

Report: Jets fielding calls for Geno Smith

Report: Bryan Stork fails physical, rights revert to Pats

Eric Berry signs franchise tender, returns to Chiefs

Kanye West, Saint Pablo Tour and the anti-celebrity

WATCH: John Randle on the first time he talked trash in the NFL

The hottest hitters in MLB heading into September sprint

Who has the most to prove at the US Open?

Vontaze Burfict on Steelers: ‘I don’t give no f—s about them’

Alistair Overeem: Brock Lesnar will never return to UFC

Top five Heisman Trophy candidates for 2016

Five young NFL players set to explode in 2016

A sports history of not standing up for the national anthem

Heading into the homestretch: 2016 ROY favorites

Six NFL quarterbacks the Cowboys must consider

Dwight Howard trying new way to improve free throw shooting

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Madden 17's live commentary tackles Kaepernick controversy

Kanye West, Saint Pablo Tour and the anti-celebrity

WATCH: John Randle on the first time he talked trash in the NFL

The hottest hitters in MLB heading into September sprint

Who has the most to prove at the US Open?

A sports history of not standing up for the national anthem

Premier League notebook: The love affair at Man U

Heading into the homestretch: 2016 ROY favorites

One Gotta Go: NFL legends talking comedians is no joke

It's all about timing: The evolution of the clock in sports

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker