Despite the overall vibe of their 107-100 victory over the Pelicans, the Wolves had a few moments Wednesday in which they were teetering.
One came when they were ahead 86-81 with 10:29 to play in the fourth quarter as New Orleans was chipping away at their lead.
Then Josh Okogie happened. That is, the ball of energy Okogie is took over the game in a brief flurry of brilliance.
First he got a steal, then dribbled the length of the court for a layup, outracing Ian Clark and dribbling around Darius Miller to get to the hoop. Then he threw his body on the line on the next Pelicans possession to rebound a driving layup attempt from Jrue Holiday and came down with the ball, drawing a foul on Holiday in the process. Then after Karl-Anthony Towns had trouble scoring on the other end, he kicked it out to Okogie for a late shot-clock 3-point attempt, and Okogie drilled it to give the Wolves a 92-81 lead.
It provided a needed boost for a Wolves team that needed one at the time. Okogie finished with 11 points on 4 of 9 shooting in 17 minutes off the bench.
Okogie is still going through the growing pains associated with being a rookie in the NBA but it seems as if he still provides a few moments each game when he can change the momentum for the better for the Wolves. One of Okogie’s new teammates certainly took notice.
“He has a ceiling that can be reached at a very early age,” Robert Covington said. “So just being the repetition and being out there with us, that’s how you get better as a player and how you understand what you’re capable of and what you’re good at.”
Tolliver a DNP
With the addition of Covington and Dario Saric to the rotation, there figured to be an odd man out among the Wolves, since coach Tom Thibodeau likes to stick with a nine-man rotation. That player was Anthony Tolliver on Wednesday. Tolliver didn’t see any action after coming into the game averaging 19.1 minutes and 5.6 points off the bench.
With Saric, there’s a logjam power forwards in the Wolves rotation at the moment, and Tolliver may have to bide his time to get back in it. Derrick Rose missed Wednesday’s game because of a sore left knee, but Thibodeau may have another decision on his hands with how he deploys Rose and Jeff Teague. It could mean a decrease in minutes for Tyus Jones.
Covington played 41 minutes and was tasked with guarding multiple. E’Twaun Moore did score 31 points on 23 shots but guard Jrue Holiday had just 14 points on 18 shots. Thibodeau said he liked the fact Covington could guard multiple positions, including other teams' point guards.