The first time, his man playing off, Jeff Teague looked around, then launched a 26-footer. Three.
Moments later, on the break, Teague calmly pulled up — practically from the same spot — and shot another three. Good.
On the next possession Teague faked a shot, got a defender to jump out of Target Center, then passed to Jimmy Butler for another three. Minutes later, another 26-footer, with Teague exhorting the announced crowd of 14,124 after it went through the net.
Sunday night, the Timberwolves closed out back-to-back home games with back-to-back wins, their 112-94 victory over the Charlotte Hornets giving them their first five-game winning streak since January 2009.
Leading the way was Teague. The above-mentioned sequence came midway through the second quarter, part of a 21-4 run that turned a one-point game into the Wolves’ second consecutive breeze. Teague scored 11 of his 18 points in the second quarter. He finished the game with his second double-double of the weekend, getting 12 assists. On a team that appears to be coming together on the fly — the Wolves’ 7-3 record is tied with the Warriors for second best in the Western Conference, with a Wednesday date at Golden State — Teague is starting to feel right at home.
“He was terrific,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “His aggressiveness. He shot when he should shoot. He was in the paint making plays. He played a terrific game.”
“When he’s playing at a high level like that,” Jimmy Butler said, “it is so much easier for everybody [else].”
In the face of such hyperbole, the low-key Teague shrugged.
“Finally made some shots,” he said.
It was a game, against a quality opponent, that could very well serve as a template for what Thibodeau wants to see:
• Balanced scoring. Six players scored in double figures for the Wolves, but none more than Andrew Wiggins’ 20. Two of those — 15 each from Jamal Crawford and Gorgui Dieng — came off the bench.
• Defense. The Wolves, who scored more than 100 points for the ninth consecutive game, held a third straight opponent to fewer than 100. The Hornets (5-5) shot worse as the game went on — 42.5 percent for the game, 33.3 percent in the second half, 24 percent in the fourth quarter. They also shot only 52.4 percent from the foul line.
• Physical play. The Wolves outrebounded Charlotte 54-38 and had a 26-11 edge from the free-throw line.
As a result the Wolves will head West looking for their first six-game winning streak since Minnesota finished the 2003-04 regular season with nine in a row.
“Who doesn’t want to win?” asked Butler. “Who doesn’t want to be a part of a winning city or a winning organization?”
Well, nobody. And while it should be noted that everybody from Thibodeau down stressed the need to avoid resting on these early-season laurels, this team is doing things that haven’t been done in Target Center for a while.
Much like Butler, it appeared Teague, also an offseason acquisition, spent the first few games trying to get others involved. He is still doing that, as his 22 assists over the weekend show. But he’s also taking his shot.
Sunday he was deadly. His 12 assists came with only one turnover. He hit on four of five three-pointers and had five rebounds.
And it can get better, Teague said. “This is still a work in progress,” he said. “We’re still trying to figure out each other. It can be a lot better. We all know that. We’re starting to get into a groove here. But we have miles to go to be the team we want to be.”