News and notes from the postgame press conference and interviews in the locker room after the Wolves’ jaw-dropping 39-point thrashing of the San Antonio Spurs. Tonight’s 128-89 win marks the Wolves’ largest victory over San Antonio and the third-largest in franchise history. They allowed only nine points in the second quarter, the fewest the team has surrendered in a quarter since Philadelphia scored nine in the second on Dec. 3, 2014 at Target Center. Ironic? It’s only the 15th single-digit defensive quarter in franchise history. San Antonio’s 34 first half points are the fewest Minnesota has allowed in a first half since Philadelphia scored 33 on Nov. 17, 2016. Ironic?
A New Basketball Crush
Tom Thibodeau has found his new basketball crush after a messy divorce with Jimmy Butler. That player is better known as RoCo.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that before,” Thibodeau said, when asked about Robert Covington finishing with an insane +44 on the night.
“It’s really what you’re doing when you’re on the floor, how he impacts the game. I thought we had a number of different guys … with the starters, they got off to a good start. I thought they were aggressive, they shared the ball, moved the ball, took care of it. Did a lot of good things.”
Thibs clearly thinks very highly of his new deadly defensive weapon who is capable of disrupting an entire offense. “He’s definitely first team all-league defense. He’s special,” he said. Thibs also called Covington “unbelievable” while describing his defense.
“I think we’re all seeing it,” Thibodeau said about the energy level and contagious play of Covington and Dario Saric. “What it has done is added a lot of depth to our team. It’s added toughness. I think it complements Karl [Towns] and Andrew [Wiggins] well. They’re young and they’re going to get better, too, so that’s the exciting thing.”
Hoop idea: Josh Okogie is mini-RoCo. Get him in the rotation. You can’t keep this in the box.
It’s currently all smiles in Wolvesdom. The chemistry is off the charts at the moment. The Wolves are playing united, with a certain togetherness that’s been missing during Thibs’ tenure in Minnesota. For instance, Towns is playing with more joy than ever before and that happiness is producing the best defense of his career.
Last season, one of my biggest takeaways as the year progressed was that I had never seen Towns that low before. The old, cheerful BIG KAT had gone missing and only occasionally popped back up here and there. There were fewer smiles. It was almost like his soul was being sucked out of him.
Now he can’t stop smiling all game. We have stuff happening in the locker room like this...
KAT struts in the locker room with a smile on his face and heavyweight belt on his shoulder. But upon hearing RoCo was +44, he walked over and set it on Cov’s chair. After further investigation, Towns said they gave it to Okogie for his huge dunk but the rook left it on the floor pic.twitter.com/xHApG8GiK8— John Meyer (@thedailywolf) November 29, 2018
RoCo proudly wore the belt out of the locker room. Sounds like he and KAT are headed out to dinner now. You can see the chemistry developing between those two. They really get along well.— John Meyer (@thedailywolf) November 29, 2018
“Robert doesn’t do shit,” Towns jokes. “First off, stop calling me Robert,” says Covington. “Only person that calls me Robert is Thibs.” Towns: “So add me too.” @KarlTowns @Holla_At_Rob33 pic.twitter.com/0oueX27yzn— John Meyer (@thedailywolf) November 29, 2018
KAT on giving the heavyweight belt to RoCo: “I always want to see my kids do well.” But it was actually Okogie’s first. “Rooks.” pic.twitter.com/sbSc4uo1I9— John Meyer (@thedailywolf) November 29, 2018
1) The old Towns is back now after the Butler distraction has been removed
2) Wolves are thriving because of it
3) Chemistry is critical and should never be ignored or belittled
4) RoCo and Towns’ budding friendship is extremely good for the franchise
Time To Hear From RoCo
In his short time here in Minneapolis, Covington has been a stellar player to interview. He always offers up a lot to chew on. (Important note: He saw this RoCoCop illustration yesterday and liked it.)
RoCo talked about his +44 and some of the players he’s watched tape of over the years. His postgame comments: pic.twitter.com/t321LdQDGD— John Meyer (@thedailywolf) November 29, 2018
Gibson said that RoCo has been in Towns’ ear defensively—and other players have been as well—and here’s his message to Towns: pic.twitter.com/OTvmzlSSE8— John Meyer (@thedailywolf) November 29, 2018
Question for readers: Who are the top five all-time Wolves communicators on the court? I ask because RoCo is constantly screaming out coverages, yelling at guys to get back, pointing out where to be, even pushing people into the right spots, and fixing things on the fly. His presence on the defensive end is a real treat to watch. Besides KG and Rubio, I can’t think of many better communicators to put on a Wolves jersey.
I’ve tweeted this a few times now but I think the league might be wise to get ahead of this and should just give Sir Glovington the Defensive Player of the Year Award tomorrow and save everyone else the time and energy in hoping and wishing and wanting to win the DPOY for themselves.
We saw the best defensive half of basketball at Target Center on Wednesday night in what feels like a decade or so. Maybe longer. The execution was that good. And RoCo is the key ingredient in this suddenly delicious defensive stew we’re being served.
Mr. Clean Offers His Thoughts
Taj Gibson is thoughtful and honest. I always enjoy hearing what he has to say.
More thoughts from Mr. Clean pic.twitter.com/RR9dkr538S— John Meyer (@thedailywolf) November 29, 2018
Hoop idea: Gibson should immediately go into coaching once his playing days end. Everyone loves Taj. He’s a happy person with a positive energy that spreads to those around him. He always makes you feel welcome and worthy—an inclusive and supportive guy. I can see why Towns, and basically everyone else according to my advanced Taj Gibson data, adores him.
A Game With Jeff
Time for a new game. It’s called “Did Jeff Teague take a jab at his coach during his media availability?” Tonight’s result: OH, A LITTLE MORE SUBTLE THAN USUAL. But still a slight jab in my estimation. Teague says, “I’m the Josh [Okogie] fan club. I’m probably the leading man in the fan club. He’s a talent, it’s hard to keep that guy off the floor.”
Thibs will respond by keeping him off the floor unless it’s garbage time or if someone, knocks on wood, gets hurt. But really the solution seems obvious; play Andrew Wiggins fewer minutes and give Okogie those minutes.
“I think the group is gelling on and off the court,” says Jeff Teague. pic.twitter.com/mShlVji2VR— John Meyer (@thedailywolf) November 29, 2018
Another note on Teague: He’s been playing banged up. The Wolves would be wise to cut back some of his minutes. Give them to the more than capable Tyus Jones. While we’re talking about point guards, I also think they have to be careful with Derrick Rose. I simply could not imagine him playing better this season, and he has been a key piece in their success, but Thibs is playing with fire when giving him 30+ minutes. That kind of workload is risky with him these days given his injury history.
In other news, I developed a new stat over the weekend.
Cutting edge analytic: SPM — Smiles Per Minute ... Wolves lead the league in SPM since trading Jimmy Butler— John Meyer (@thedailywolf) November 29, 2018
The SPM at Canis Hoopus seems to be high at the moment as we ride this new wave.
+44. Defense. Stocks. Chemistry. Smiles.
This was from my game preview: “A win would push them to 11-11, and the Spurs to 10-11. We shall throw a party in the comments section if it actually happens. That would be a brilliant way to start this tough 4-game home stand that should help reveal exactly where the Wolves stack up in the rugged, unrelenting Western Conference.”
But before we let the disco ball roll through the night, I want to give credit to Tyus Jones and Gorgui Dieng for playing through adversity and finding their way in limited playing time. Both of them were terrific on this wonderful basketball night. When the bench mob shows up, this team is truly a nightmare to face.
You know what?
That was a tour de force. Wolves 2.0 are the funnest team in the league. Don’t @ me.