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On Thibodeau's birthday, LaVine promises his 'best defense' as a gift

Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau turned 59 today. Offered congrats after this morning’s shootaround by a group of media,  he laughed. “If you were really my friends you wouldn’t mention that,’’ he said.

So, did he – or will he – celebrate the milestone? “No, no, no,’’ he said. “You get to this point, you don’t celebrate, you hope they just keep going.’’

OK. Well, his young team offered these ideas on presents for their coach:

Gorgui Dieng: “If we win tonight we’re going to have to have the rookie sing ‘’Happy Birthday’’ to him,’’ Dieng said, referring to rookie guard Kris Dunn.

Karl-Anthony Towns: “Don’t lose.’’

But Zach LaVine was the funniest: "I feel if I play some defense he’ll have the best birthday ever. So I’ll try to go out and play the best defense of the year.’’

OK, on to more serious stuff:

--After missing practice yesterday, Dieng said he’s feeling good and ready to go. “Yesterday was a tough day for me,’’ said Dieng, who was the team’s best player in Sunday’s loss in Dallas. “I rested, drank a lot of water, took some medicine. I feel good.’’

--Sunday Thibodeau described the team’s effort in the loss in Dallas as “lethargic.’’

Now, in this up-and-down season, there have been problems to work through. But lack of energy hasn’t often been the issue.

It was enough of a surprise that Thibodeau talked to the team about it. “This is a very good work group,’’ he said. “A very good practice group. And, for the most part, there have been very few games that have been like that. So, that was the thing. Every once in a while you may have a flat game. But there were things we could have done that could have gotten us going.’’

It appears the team listened. According to Thibodeau, the team had a “terrific’’ practice Monday and a very spirited morning workout today.

“I hope that translates [in the game],’’ Thibodeau said. “The big thing is to continue to improve. We didn’t play well on either end in Dallas. I want to bounce back tonight. This will be a good test for us. ‘’

--One group definitely looking to bounce back is the bench, which struggled mightily Sunday. “It was a struggle,’’ said Shabazz Muhammad. “They came out with more of an edge than we did. Tonight we can’t have that.’’

--It’s never easy playing the Spurs. But it’s especially hard when San Antonio is coming off a loss. The Spurs lost to Phoenix in Mexico City Saturday. The Spurs, in fact, have lost two of their last three games.

Postgame: Wolves' winning streak ends in Dallas

The Timberwolves’ three-game winning streak came to an abrupt end here in Dallas.

After averaging 27.3 assists per game during three wins, the Wolves had 20 today. On the defensive end the Wolves didn’t move their feet enough and fouled too much.

It won’t get any easier. The Wolves will play at San Antonio Tuesday.

Here are some final thoughts on the game:

--Zach LaVine returned after missing two games with a hip injury. He played OK, making three of four three-pointers and scoring 11 points. And while it’s not necessarily his fault, the Wolves offense just didn’t have the ball movement and spacing it had in its last two victories.

--Thibodeau went deep into his bench today, playing 11 players overall. “I was just trying to get something going,’’ Thibodeau said. “We tried to match up better with them. We were searching.’’

--Still, with LaVine back, Thibodeau essentially said his rotation will remain tight. And that means Brandon Rush will likely be on the outside of that rotation looking in.

--After scoring just four points on 1-for-10 shooting Friday, Gorgui Dieng bounced back with a 10-for-12 performance, scoring a season-high 21 points. He may have been the lone Wolves player who came with energy from start to finish. He also had eight rebounds – five on the offensive end – and a steal.

--Ricky Rubio had 10 assists, his fourth straight game with 10 or more, matching the second longest such streak of his career.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

  • New Jersey at Wild

    7 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at San Antonio

    7:30 pm on FSN PLUS, 830-AM

  • Arizona at Wild

    7 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at L.A. Clippers

    9:30 pm on TNT, 830-AM

  • Gophers men's hockey at Wisconsin

    7 pm on FSN, 1500-AM

  • Ohio State at Gophers women's hockey

    7:07 pm

  • Gophers women's basketball at Iowa

    2 pm

  • Ohio State at Gophers women's hockey

    2:07 pm

  • Wisconsin at Gophers men's basketball

    3:30 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Gophers men's hockey at Wisconsin

    5 pm on FSN, 1500-AM

  • Anaheim at Wild

    8 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Denver at Timberwolves

    6 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Nashville at Wild

    7 pm on FSN PLUS, 100.3-FM

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