Kurt Rambis and NBA Coaching 101
Kurt Rambis was in familiar territory last night at Staples Center, diagramming plays during timeouts, badgering refs on foul calls, dressed in his usual smart, dark suit and silvery tie. The only difference was the longtime Lakers assistant coach was barking out instructions to his young Minnesota Timberwolves team in his fourth game as their head coach.
Sadly for Rambis, his team is now on a three-game losing streak after the Clippers beat the Timberwolves, 93-90.
I spotted something about Rambis' coaching style during the game. The Timberwolves' starting point guard is Jonny Flynn, 20, the Syracuse rookie who was the sixth pick in the NBA draft last June. Flynn is listed at 6-feet-0 and 185 pounds, but given that players are measured in sneakers and height inflation is the norm, Flynn looks about 5-foot-9 1/2.
However, Flynn is sturdy and muscular, not unlike the Hornets' All-Star point guard Chris Paul, and Flynn had no problem driving past the Clippers' point guard, Baron Davis, last night to get into the paint. Flynn was productive, scoring 13 points in just 21 minutes against the Clippers.
But in the second half, as the Timberwolves overcame a 13-point deficit, Rambis gave more playing time to PG Ramon Sessions, whom the Clippers coveted as a free agent during the summer. Sessions, 23, is only in his third NBA season, but that means he's had a lot more experience than Flynn.
After Flynn threw the ball away with about four minutes left in the game -- his fifth turnover in 21 minutes -- Rambis benched Flynn and sent Sessions back in to run the team. Sessions played 26 minutes last night and only had two turnovers.
So that's part of Rambis' M.O. as a coach: control the ball. Generally, the Timberwolves did that last night, with only 12 turnovers versus 18 for the Clippers. But Rambis obviously wants his rookie point guard to be smarter about handling the ball.
-- Barry Stavro
Photo: Minnesota Timberwolves Coach Kurt Rambis at Staples Center on Monday night. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times