Tuesday will mark the 18th day before this year’s

Zach LaVine

Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine all but confirmed Saturday that he will defend his slam dunk contest title at all star weekend Feb. 13.

“Oh, yeah, I don’t know,” LaVine said. “It’s a little bit of a surprise still. I don’t know. I’m going with maybe.”

LaVine burst onto the national spotlight with his 41 inch vertical leap in last year event. He became the youngest champion in the event 30 years, beating Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, Orlando’s Victor Oladipo and Brooklyn’s Mason Plumlee.

A year ago, LaVine was officially announced as a participant in the slam dunk contest 18 days before the NBA all star weekend event. Tuesday will mark the 18th day before this year’s event at theAir Canada Centre in Toronto.

LaVine, who has 23 dunks in games this season, said Saturday he hasn’t yet practiced any dunks for the event. will probably start practices soon, if it does happen,” he said. “I think I have enough dunks saved to where I know I can go out there and put on a good show.”

In preseason, LaVine said, “If Wiggins is in it, I’m for sure in it.”

LaVine said Saturday that there won’t be a teammate twosome in the event in Wiggins hometown.

“Yeah, he ain’t doing that,” LaVine said . “I just put that out there. He don’t want to, so maybe he don’t want to lose, I don’t know. I mean Andrew has some stuff that we be just messing around, and I can’t do it. He can definitely go up there and win one, too.”

## ## However, Wiggins, who has a team high 35 dunks this year, and Karl Anthony Towns will likely be a part of the Rising Star Challenge.

Hall of Fame point guard Gary Payton visited Timberwolves practice Friday, with Ricky Rubio and Zach LaVine among his pupils.

“I’m a big fan of his game and can learn a lot of things,” Rubio said Saturday. “He told me he will be around here, so I think that I’m looking forward to it.”

Payton, nicknamed “The Glove,” was a nine time all star during his 17 year career spent mostly with the Seattle Supersonics. He was the NBA defensive player of the year in 1995 96 and had a career average of 1.8 steals per game.

“When you are a hall of fame player, you have to have everything, but of course, on defense he was some kind of nightmare for the other team,” Rubio said. “That is something that I can learn. Being a point guard with experience, you got a lot of tricks and a lot of experience to share with the young guys. I think he can do that with us. He can help us to be better.”

Payton’s visit was brought on by Wolves general manager Milt Newton, who is friends with Payton. LaVine, who grew up in Bothell, Wash., nearSeattle and looked up to Payton.

The Wolves Blazers game Saturday night at Target Center means nothing within the Northwest Division.

In the offseason, the NBA switched its playoff format from guaranteeing a top four playoff spot for division winners. Instead, the playoffs will be seeded Nos. 1 8 by regular season record.

Heading into Saturday, the Wolves (8 10) would be the first team out of the playoffs. Utah (8 9) and Houston (9 11) have the seventh and eighth spots, respectively. McCollum.

The Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins was the only player unanimously selected to the NBA All Rookie first team, the NBA announced Monday.

Wiggins, who won Rookie of the Year, received all 130 first team votes from a panel of media members. Teammate Zach LaVine was voted to the second team with 135 points, including 22 first team votes.

Wiggins is the eighth Wolves rookie to make the first team. He joins Ricky Rubio, Randy Foye, Wally Szczerbiak, Stephon Marbury, Isaiah Rider, Christian Laettner and Pooh Richardson.

This year’s All Rookie first team also included Chicago’s Nikola Mirotic, Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel, Orlando’s Elfrid Payton and Los Angeles Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson.

The second team also had Boston’s Marcus Smart, Brooklyn’s Bojan Bogdanovic, Denver’s Jusef Nurkic and New York’s Langston Galloway.

Voting members selected five players for both first and second team, with two points awarded for first team votes and one point for second team votes.

The Timberwolves lost 101 99 afterrookie guard Zach LaVine fouled Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson with 0.3 seconds left in overtime, sending Carkson to the line to make two free throws.

fouled him, Wolves coach Flip Saunders said. hope every time you get an opportunity (to learn from it). You just have to watch film. replay appeared to show LaVine hitting Clarkson with a forearm between when Clarkson grabbed the rebound and hurried a shot at the hole.

LaVine disagreed with the foul call.

no, he said. can call that with 0.3 seconds left. I will go back to me, and I can let him even get near the ball.

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