After reviewing Friday night's game tapes and initiating a Saturday pregame chat, Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman had a simple message for guard Rashad McCants following a 1-for-15 shooting night in a loss at Denver:
"Absolutely," Wittman said.
On Wednesday, McCants shot 5-for-16 against Cleveland and watched the game's final 20 minutes because Wittman assessed that the former Tar Heel had stopped playing. On Friday, McCants only made a shot on a breakaway dunk, but played the entire fourth quarter because Wittman thought McCants had everything going except his shot.
"Looking back on the film, he got 15 good shots and I'm not being unrealistic," Wittman said before Saturday's home game against Atlanta. "If I can get him 15 of those kinds of shots tonight, I'll take them again. You know what? We play too many games. You go through a stretch of four or five games where you shoot 5-for-30 and then you'll have four or five games when you'll shoot 22-for-30. That's how you have to look at it."
That's what Wittman said he told McCants, who after Friday's game wondered aloud if the basketball was mad at him.
"Tonight, he comes out and shoots 14-for-15," Wittman said. "Could happen. He's got to have that mindset that everything's going to be even tonight, back to 50 percent. That's how good players think. If you want to be a good player, that's how you have to think."
McCants made three of his first four shots on Saturday against the Hawks, finishing with 11 points on 5-for-9 shooting.
Making a choice
Wittman called finding minutes for both third-year guard Gerald Green and rookie Corey Brewer a "trading game."
Green played more than 12 minutes Friday to Brewer's two minutes as a reward for a 20-minute, 13-point game two nights earlier against Cleveland.
Of course, that all could flip around on any given night. "It's hard to play both of them significant minutes," Wittman said. "It's just a feel. What do we need most right now: baskets or defense?"
A tough road
After a 1-9 start entering Saturday's game, things now get tough for the Timberwolves: After Saturday, they play six of their next nine and 13 of their next 19 on the road. Included are consecutive games next week at New Orleans, Dallas and a Friday home game against defending NBA champion New Orleans.
The Wolves' 21 turnovers at Denver were a season high.
"We had five last night where we didn't get the ball to half court," Wittman said. "You take those away and now we're at 15. That's where we should have been. We just threw the ball away. We can't have that."
They also had, by Wittman's count after reviewing game tape, seven layups alone in the second half that they simply missed.