Jace Frederick / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS -- It took two minutes of game time for Andrew Wiggins to mentally shed a quarter-season’s worth of disappointment. In four trips down the floor in the third quarter of the Timberwolves’ loss to Boston on Saturday, Wiggins went 3 for 3 from the field — including a pair of 3-pointers — to score nine points and, in his mind, effectively end his early-season struggles.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Derrick Rose recognized early in the Timberwolves’ game Monday, Dec. 3, against Houston that it wasn’t going to be a big scoring night for him. The Rockets were blitzing the Wolves point guard — sending two defenders at him hard off screens — plus double-teaming him in certain spots and denying him the ball. Suddenly, scoring was low on his list of priorities.
MINNEAPOLIS — Last spring, Tyus Jones and Derrick Rose were pushed into a backcourt situation they were unfamiliar with — playing alongside each other. Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau had repeatedly discussed the benefits of playing two point guards but hadn’t gone to the look much until signing Rose. Since then, most of Jones’ playing time has come with Rose on the floor. So far, so good.
MINNEAPOLIS — Derrick Rose’s renaissance season has drawn plenty of attention and thrust the former NBA most valuable player back into national headlines. From his 50-point game to his improved 3-point shooting, there’s been plenty to talk about. Rose is averaging 19 points a game on 50 percent shooting — including 49 percent from 3-point range — and Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said Rose has played at “an all-star level.”
MINNEAPOLIS — A number of factors have gone into the Timberwolves’ turnaround. Better defense, improved rebounding, efficient offense and bench contributions have all played roles. You can thank Robert Covington for most of it. The newly acquired All-NBA defensive wing is setting quite an example.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The loudest roar at Target Center on Wednesday night, Nov. 28, didn’t come as Minnesota was building a 48-point lead over San Antonio. It didn’t come when Robert Covington knocked down one of his four 3-pointers, and it didn’t come during one of the Timberwolves’ 12 steals. Rather, it came with 10 minutes, 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter, when coach Tom Thibodeau yelled out “Josh!” and rookie guard Josh Okogie rose from the bench to check in. All Timberwolves fans cheered, and some stood. Timberwolves fans love Okogie.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Taj Gibson has waited a long time for this commitment from his Timberwolves teammates. Finally, the veteran power forward said, preparation means digging deeper than “alright, we’re playing the Spurs.” Instead, the Timberwolves are getting into the nitty-gritty involved in a successful defensive game plan. And it’s paying off. Since Nov. 10, the day the Timberwolves agreed to trade Jimmy Butler to Philadelphia, Minnesota has been the NBA’s best defensive team.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Timberwolves’ offense was rolling in the first half of Wednesday’s loss to Denver. Minnesota had 56 points on 55 percent shooting. Its star player, Karl-Anthony Towns, had 13 points, 11 in the second quarter. Shots were falling, points were coming easy and everyone was rolling. Then Denver adjusted. Over the first 24 minutes, the Nuggets largely covered Towns with just one defender in the post. Coach Tom Thibodeau knew a change was coming. At the break, he told Towns to prepare for Denver double-teaming Minnesota’s all-star center.
MINNEAPOLIS -- First and foremost, Rob McClanaghan wanted Derrick Rose to enjoy his summer in the gym. This was Rose’s first summer in seemingly forever where he could focus on basketball rather than rehab, but McClanaghan didn’t want to make a big deal of that. “I just wanted him to get back in the gym, have fun, talk trash and get better,” McClanaghan said over the phone Tuesday, Nov. 20. “I didn’t really want to make it a whole work thing.”
MINNEAPOLIS — The Timberwolves were playing fast and free, sharing the ball and having fun in their first three games sans Jimmy Butler. But if there’s any team that knows how to suck the life out of an opponent, it’s the Memphis Grizzlies. In an ugly affair in which both teams made less than 43 percent of their shots, Memphis was more physical and less sloppy than the Wolves en route to a 100-87 victory at Target Center on Sunday, Nov. 18, that stopped Minnesota’s three-game winning streak dead on its tracks.