Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau and the NBA agreed on one thing following Sunday’s buzzer-beating victory at Oklahoma City: Thibodeau signaled for a timeout he didn’t have, one of two officiating errors the league deemed were made against the Thunder in the game’s final five seconds.
Thibodeau on Tuesday agreed with the league on one of those two points stated in a two-minute report: He did signal briefly for a timeout. But he disagreed that Karl-Anthony Towns set an illegal screen that led to Andrew Wiggins’ dramatic three-point, game-winning shot in a 115-113 victory.
Thibodeau said he knew the Wolves had no timeouts left and noted he and his players talked about that during a timeout with nine seconds left. He quickly gestured for his team to inbound the ball and push it up the floor after he signaled for a timeout a referee didn’t see because he had his head turned.
He called the signal for a timeout mostly instinctual during a new season in which the NBA has reduced the number of timeouts late in games in order to speed up their pace.
“It was just a mistake on my part,” Thibodeau said, “but I realized it right away so we just kept going.”
The two-minute report also said Towns set too wide of a screen with his legs that clipped Thunder star Paul George as he attempted to keep up with Wiggins streaking down the floor.
Asked if his screen was illegal, Towns said, “Nah, I don’t care, I don’t care. We got the ‘W.’ That’s all I care about.”
His hometown team
Wolves point guard Jeff Teague faced both his former and hometown team Tuesday. He played last season at home for the Pacers after he spent his first seven years in Atlanta.
“It was fun, I had a great time,” Teague said. “Wish we could have done better, but made the playoffs. That was good. I enjoyed it.”
He said games against his hometown team only feel special now when the games are played in Indianapolis.
“It’s always special when your family gets to be there and you get to see some old friends,” he said. “But when [the Pacers] come here, it’s pretty much business as usual.”
What could have been
Pacers guard Lance Stephenson played six games for the Wolves last season and would have played many more if he hadn’t injured his ankle twice. The second time came just as the Wolves were ready to sign him for the rest of the season.
“I think it would have worked out if I didn’t get hurt,” Stephenson said. “God put me back with the Pacers and I’m just happy where I’m at, but I think it would have worked in Minnesota. I liked it here. I learned a lot from Thibs, got to play with a couple All-Star guys. I liked the fans; they embraced me well. I just loved it here.”
• Just call the Pacers “Wolves East.” Former Wolves Stephenson, Al Jefferson, Thad Young, injured Glenn Robinson III and Damien Wilkins are on their roster. Former Wolves assistant Bill Bayno is there, too.
• Wolves guard Jamal Crawford and Pacers coach Nate McMillan first met in Seattle summertime pickup games when Crawford was 16 and McMillan played for the SuperSonics. “That’s what convinced me I had what it took to make it in the NBA,” Crawford said.
• Next week is the 10th anniversary of Jefferson signing a $65 million contract three months after the Wolves acquired him in the 2007 Kevin Garnett trade. “It’s a blessing to still be around,” Jefferson said, “and it lets you know how old I am: 32.”
• McMillan was just leaving his USA Basketball assistant coach’s position when Thibodeau arrived. The two know each other through coaching connections. “Yeah, especially the old ones,” Thibodeau joked.