The Wolves didn’t practice Friday.
Instead, coach Tom Thibodeau had his players sit down for a nearly two-hour film session trying to get at the root of what has bothered the team in the third quarters of all three of their losses.
And that took some time.
“We saw some things,” Nemanja Bjelica.
Said Thibodeau: “There are mistakes being repeated. So we have to look at how we eliminate that. Are we learning? There are different ways to learn. Obviously preparation is important, listening is important, watching is important. Studying. And, of course, trial and error. Hopefully we’ll improve. In some ways we have. We have started games well. We’ve had big leads. But we haven’t been able to sustain it. We have to take a hard look at that.’’
Thibodau stressed, again, how everything was important. Particularly what is accomplished during time outs. “When there is a stoppage of play, you have a chance to gather and think,” he said. “And so, there shouldn’t be breakdowns in those areas. That’s something we have to correct.’’
Here are a couple other notes from today’s non-practice:
If there is a silver lining to be taken from Thursday’s loss to Denver at Target Center it might be the play of Tyus Jones and Bjelica, both of whom played the entire fourth quarter and were a plus-10.
--After the second unit had stumbled in the second quarter, things got better. Down 13 entering the fourth quarter, the second unit played well enough that Thibodeau left Jones and Bjelica when he came back with Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Cole Aldrich. The Wolves got as close as two points before losing by three.
Jones didn’t shoot particularly well – he was 1-for-5 in the game—but he played with poise down the stretch. He played well enough that Thibodeau left rookie Kris Dunn on the bench for the final 12 minutes.
“Experience is a big thing in this league,” Jones said. “Any chance to go through a situation like that, it will help you out.’’
--Bjelica, meanwhile, had his most aggressive stint of the season, finishing with 14 points and eight rebounds. Ten of those points came in the fourth quarter, all 10 coming in a 12-5 run that cut Denver’s lead to six with 5:45 to play.
“I tried to be more aggressive,” he said. “When you start to play better it gives you confidence. But we have a problem with a tough loss. And we have a big problem with third quarters. We have to find a way to play much better. That’s it. We need to play more aggressive and we need to stay together.”