Updated: February 29, 2012, 12:43 PM ET

1. For A Night, Williams Homecoming King

By Kevin Arnovitz
ESPN.com

LOS ANGELES -- Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown would traditionally start any member of his roster when the team took the floor in that player's hometown. Minnesota Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman doesn't abide by such customs, which meant that rookie Derrick Williams would come off the bench, as he usually does, against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on Tuesday night.

Williams might not have had the privilege of starting in front of 30-40 friends and family from the Los Angeles area, but he finished in style. His 27 points were a team high, a personal career high, and sparked a furious second-half run by Minnesota in its 109-97 win over the Clippers.

"It all started with Derrick [Williams]," Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley said. "It's his night. It's his city. He's just playing the game he's been playing for 21 years."

Williams flashed a youthful smile (literally -- the rookie wears braces) as he greeted teammates and media after the game. During Williams' first season, the coaching staff has maintained a delicate balance between patience and prodding with the No. 2 overall pick. Williams has always been an inveterate scorer, but has been stuck behind Kevin Love and others in Minnesota's stacked frontcourt rotation.

"In the first half of the season, I was just trying to do too much," Williams said. "It's just learning a different role. I felt like coming off the bench I was just trying to get the ball and score every time. Being a scorer like that it's pretty hard but now I've learned Coach [Adelman]'s offense and his strategies and I think that's what I did tonight. I picked my spots."

Those spots were both near and far on Tuesday. In the game's first 15 minutes, Williams looked inside with a series of strong basket drives. Then came the long-range barrage, as Williams drilled all four of his shot attempts from beyond the arc.

Williams has been dogged by concerns -- some even voiced by Adelman -- that he's a young forward without a natural position, not unlike his teammate Beasley.

"I'm probably still going to hear a lot of those same questions: 'Is he a 3 or is he a 4?'" Williams said.

On Tuesday night, he was just a basketball player -- active on defense, eager to exploit space along the perimeter to spot up and shoot, and aggressive to the hole when he spotted seams.

Beasley deserves similar praise, as he also chalked up 27 points off the bench for Minnesota, whose 72 bench points was an NBA high for a single game this season. Collectively, the pair shot 20 for 25 from the field and 7 for 9 from the line.

Not bad for a couple of young tweeners.

Dimes past: Feb. 21 | 22 | 23

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