What's On Tap Tonight
Indiana Pacers at Miami Heat (TNT, 8 p.m. ET)
Minnesota Timberwolves at Sacramento Kings (TNT, 10:30 p.m. ET)
What To Watch
Whether Minnesota Timberwolves guard Latrell Sprewell is roaring obscenities at his former bosses, choking coaches, or blistering opponents with threats, his public image of is forged with explosive conflict and clashes.
Shoved to the backdrop of Sprewell's numerous battlegrounds are his playing skills. He says his rage burns in the same inferno that fires his passion to win. The Timberwolves are going to need all of it if they are going to capture a road victory against the Sacramento Kings.
With their best-of-seven series tied, 1-1, the 6-foot-5 Sprewell is optimistic about his team's chances of getting him back to the NBA finals, where he led the New York Knicks in 1995. Unlike his first time, he has a strong supporting cast in Kevin Garnett and Sam Cassell, and his new organization is a better fit.
"The Timberwolves are a lot better at communicating," Sprewell told the Journal News, based in Westchester, N.Y., comparing his new team with the Knicks. "There's a sense of family here. Everybody's together. [General manager] Kevin McHale's always at practices and talking to guys, interacting. The owner [Glen Taylor], he's a very caring person . . . It's a lot closer-knit family here with the Timberwolves."
Playing in Minnesota has quelled his temper. But when confronted, he's still volatile, which continues to fuel his reputation for being a hothead and overshadows his triumphs on the court.
Grabbing a coach by the throat, as Sprewell did to P.J. Carlesimo when both were with Golden State, tends to obscure an 18.8 career scoring average. Verbally attacking a team owner, as Sprewell did last December on his return to Madison Square Garden, where he interrupted his 31-point performance against his former team to scream profanities at Knicks owner James Dolan, distracts from his speed and quickness, his pinpoint shooting, the fact that he's one of the league's most lethal scorers off the fast break.
Like his temper, Sprewell's play can be unpredictable. In the first round of the playoffs, he averaged 19.8 points over five games but has scored only 10 points per game in the two games against Sacramento.
His teammates in Minnesota wait and watch for his next outburst -- of scoring.
This Weekend's Big Winner (Team)
Los Angeles Lakers. They throttled the San Antonio Spurs,105-81, to snatch their first victory in the second-round series. Gary Payton stays in front of Spurs guard Tony Parker and the Lakers front line keeps Duncan, who finished with only 10 points, away from the basket.
This Weekend's Big Loser (Team)
San Antonio Spurs. A victory in Los Angeles is crucial for the Spurs and a win in Game 3 would have been a knock-out blow. Instead, the Spurs collapsed in a lopsided loss and a more confident Lakers' team can tie the series Tuesday night.
This Weekend's Big Winner (Player)
Gary Payton. A 21-year-old Parker scores a combined 50 points against the 35-year-old Laker guard in the first two games but Payton rallies in a must-win situation to hold the Spurs' guard to 8 points.
This Weekend's Big Loser (Player)
Chauncey Billups. The Detroit guard, a game after scoring 28 points and13 assists and leading the Pistons to its second victory against the Nets, is held to 2 points and 2 assists.