Former UGA star Wilkins finding spot in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota forward Damien Wilkins, nephew of Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins, has made a favorable impression in his new home.

Acquired in a July trade with Oklahoma City, Wilkins has started 11 of the Timberwolves' last 13 games, including their Tuesday game against the Hawks, when his uncle was in the arena, calling the game for SportSouth.

In his 12 starts before Tuesday, Minnesota was 5-7 but 0-16 over the rest of the schedule.

"I think a lot of [his playing time] has to do with his acceptance and willingness to do what we're asking him to do," first-year coach Kurt Rambis said. "There hasn't been resistance on his behalf."

In his sixth season out of Georgia, Wilkins spent the first five years with the Seattle-Oklahoma City franchise as a sometime starter, averaging 7.4 points in his career. Going into Tuesday's game, he was averaging 9.9 points as a Wolves starter and shooting 47.9 percent in those games.

In the Wolves' loss to Boston Sunday, Wilkins had season highs in points (18), assists (six) and minutes (38) with no turnovers. Rambis favorably compared Wilkins' passion and work ethic with his uncle's.

"Every time I come down to practice, he's already in a full sweat and he's one of the last to leave most of the time," he said.

L.A. connection

Rambis was a Los Angeles Lakers assistant when Hawks swingman Mo Evans was with the team in the 2006-07 season and the start of 2007-08.

"He was terrific for us," Rambis said. "He did a good job, worked hard shooting the basketball. All the things that he's doing now he was doing for us. He just wasn't getting the time that he probably deserved with more people in front of him."


Hawks coach Mike Woodson said that he expects forward Joe Smith, who has been out with a dislocated thumb, to be ready for the Hawks' Saturday game at Indiana. Forward Othello Hunter was activated in Smith's place for the sixth consecutive game. ... Forward Josh Smith did a photo shoot Monday with Dime magazine.

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