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Wolves limit Doncic, but his teammates pick up the slack

Coming into the Timberwolves’ matchup against the Mavericks, the natural focus was on how the Wolves were going to slow down Dallas MVP candidate Luka Doncic.

The plan going in was to start guard Josh Okogie, put him on Doncic and see how that played out. For the most part, Okogie and the Wolves did what they wanted to do on Docic. It was the rest of the Mavericks that hurt them in a 121-114 loss for the Wolves.

Doncic finished with 22 points, but he needed 22 shot attempts to get there. He was 1 of 8 from three-point range and had five turnovers. Against someone who is nearly averaging a triple double, the Wolves did a fine job limiting Doncic.

“We followed the game plan perfectly,” Andrew Wiggins said. “Josh did a great job, made it hard for him the whole game. Picked him up full court. You just kind of tip your hat to Josh. It was all him. He worked his butt off defensively.”

It was an added challenge for Okogie, who has been playing through some nagging knee soreness that has caused him to miss two games. He played 27 minutes, scored seven points and had seven rebounds.

But in the fourth quarter, the Mavericks did their damage, especially from a deep bench. Jalen Brunson ignited the deciding run in the fourth by scoring 14 of his 16 points. Maxi Kleber added 12 while starter Dwight Powell had 24 on 9 of 9 shooting. Doncic contributed late as well, hitting a three and then hitting three free throws after the Wolves fouled him behind the arc.

Covington heats up
Robert Covington was one of the Wolves’ deadliest offensive weapons on Wednesday. Covington had 22 points on 8 of 13 shooting. He was 6 of 10 from three-point range. The six threes were the most Covington hit in a game this season.

His three straight threes toward the end of the second quarter helped the Wolves grab their first lead of the game, and when the Wolves were still trying to keep pace with the Mavericks late, Covington drained one from well beyond the three-point line. He usually takes a few of those per game, and don’t expect that to stop.

“That’s what I work on, those type of shots,” Covington said. “And I’m very confident shooting them. My coaches and teammates are very confident in me shooting and they’re all in rhythm. I just feel like I got the shot, let it fly.”

Wolves' Bates-Diop continues to make his case for minutes

ATLANTA – Keita Bates-Diop made his best case on Saturday that the Timberwolves organization shouldn’t forget about him.

With several rotation players out, Bates-Diop scored 22 points. Three of those players who were out Saturday were back on Monday – Robert Covington, Josh Okogie and Treveon Graham.

But Bates-Diop, the second year player out of Ohio State, still played nearly 24 minutes in the Wolves’ 125-113 victory. And he was still productive. Bates-Diop had 13 points on 5 of 8 shooting to go with five rebounds and a steal.

He was so effective that coach Ryan Saunders had him in with the group that closed out the victory.

“He’s provided great minutes and he’s not the first guy and I’m sure he’s not the last guy who continues to do that,” Saunders said. “That’s just a big credit to this locker room.”

Saunders likes the versatility Bates-Diop has, the way he is able to guard multiple positions and the instincts he has a cerebral player.

“As a coach you want guys to, I guess you can say, force your hand,” Saunders said. “So, Keita has given us a big lift and his ability to play the four and the three, he puts the ball on the floor like a three in the open court at times. He can stretch the floor like a four. He’s got length where he can actually protect the rim a little bit when there’s penetration in the paint.”

Added Bates-Diop: “I pride myself on that a lot. That’s kind of my game. I’m not a just a shooter, not just a driver. I’m a little bit of everything.”

After Saturday’s game Bates-Diop was surprised to see he had attempted 10 threes. That, according to him, was too many.

“I don’t know about 10 threes per game,” Bates-Diop joked at shootaround Monday. “It’s definitely improved. I feel more confident in it.”

He only took four on Monday and made two.

“That’s a little more in my range,” he said.

Bates-Diop wasn’t the first Wolves player called up from Iowa this season, but he has made the biggest impact over the last two games. Even though he is competing with some of his teammates in Iowa for time on the main roster, he said there is still a lot of camaraderie among the group.

“It’s actually a good dynamic,” Bates-Diop said. “We’re all competitive. Nothing is given. Everything is earned up here anyway.”

And he is earning more looks off the bench in the NBA. 

 

Final, 12/4 1 2 3 4 F
Minnesota 10-10 25 31 28 30 114
Dallas 15-6 30 23 27 41 121

NBA Scoreboard

  • Philadelphia

    Washington

     

    - F

    113

    119

  • Houston

    Toronto

     

    - F

    119

    109

  • Denver

    New York

     

    - F

    129

    92

  • Phoenix

    New Orleans

     

    - F

    139

    132