MINNEAPOLIS — Playing sporadic minutes is nothing new to Jordan Bell. The big man spent his first two seasons playing for a loaded Golden State squad that competed for championships.
Sometimes there were minutes available to him, and other times there weren’t. But when he did get opportunities, he made the most of them.
He did the same thing with his new team Saturday, Nov. 23. The little-used Bell was thrust into action against Phoenix because of a bevy of Timberwolves injuries. Bell recorded nine rebounds and two blocked shots in 17 minutes. Minnesota outscored Phoenix by eight points when he was on the floor, an impressive number in a loss.
“I think we all knew what he’s capable of. I’m very proud of him coming out today and showing what he can do when he’s given an opportunity,” Karl-Anthony Towns said. “Jordan was fantastic tonight, his energy was contagious and his enthusiasm for the game drove us all to have a chance to win this game.”
That was Bell’s sole focus when he entered Saturday’s contest. Play hard, he said, and good things will happen. He knows the Wolves have plenty of scorers, so he wanted to do anything else he could to help the team win.
It’s much like what he did for Golden State.
Saturday’s game marked the first time Bell played non-garbage-time minutes in 2 1/2 weeks. He hasn’t seen the workload for which he came to Minnesota.
After signing a cheap one-year deal with the Wolves this summer, Bell told the Bay Area News Group he simply wanted “an opportunity just to play.”
He hasn’t gotten that in Minnesota, but there are reasons. Bell missed much of training camp and the preseason with injuries and has battled a shoulder sprain early in the regular season.
“So I don’t expect anything to be handed to me,” Bell said. “I got to earn everything, and people (are) playing good.”
Bell lauded the recent play of Gorgui Dieng, Noah Vonleh and even Keita Bates-Diop, who also shined in Saturday’s loss.
“When your teammates are doing good, you cheer for them,” Bell said. “You’re still winning and you should be happy for them. Wait for my name to be called, and when it’s called, just try to produce.”
Bell noted his experience with Golden State helped him with his time on the bench in Minnesota. He has been in this spot many times before.
“Just got to learn to stay ready,” Bell said. “I think being on Golden State, we had some good vets … always telling me to stay ready, stay ready and it sucks, but you could either not stay ready, go out there and look (bad) or stay ready and go out there and produce. We still get paid at the end of the day, whether we’re playing or not, so we got a job to do.”
He did his job well Saturday. The boost he provided in the first half inspired Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders to go back to Bell in the second half. Bell ended up playing twice as many minutes as Vonleh, who started the game.
Saunders said Bell was “definitely a bright spot” in the defeat. Time will tell if that leads to more minutes for Bell.
“I say it all the time, we do find positives. Losses are only losses if you don’t learn from them,” Saunders said. “And we have some things that we can learn from, but then we learn about each other and we learn about ourselves as a collective.”