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Wiggins, Dieng among bright spots for Wolves in opener

SAN ANTONIO – If there is a moral victory in basketball, the Timberwolves felt like they notched one in their 112-108 loss to the Spurs on Wednesday.

At the top of the list of things that went right for the Wolves is the play of Andrew Wiggins.

Wiggins got off to a wretched start, missing his first shot then committing a turnover and having Rudy Gay swat another shot of his. But Wiggins steadied himself, started attacking the basket and buried a pair of open 3-pointers.

The Wolves were down 11 before Wiggins regathered himself to hit those 3s and with him playing better, the Wolves also played better.

“I just kept shooting, you know? I missed a couple easy ones early, but I kept shooting to get a rhythm and I felt good the whole game after that.”

Wiggins finished with 20 points on 8 of 18 shooting and had six rebounds. He picked up the slack on the boards as Karl-Anthony Towns was in foul trouble for most of the second half.

“I thought he was very aggressive,” coach Tom Thibodeau said.

That aggressiveness resulted in a couple easy buckets for Wiggins, even if he still settled for mid-range jumpers on some possessions.

“It’s good seeing the ball going in and getting some easy touches, easy finishes around the rim,” Wiggins said.


The other bright spot for the Wolves was Gorgui Dieng, who played 24 minutes thanks in part to Towns’ foul trouble. Dieng kept the Wolves afloat with 12 points on 4 of 8 shooting and five rebounds.

“Something we want to do is get to the bonus early in each quarter and so his aggressiveness was very good and I thought he put a lot of pressure on the rim,” Thibodeau said. “And that opened up things for us.”

Etc …
Anthony Tolliver played 19 minutes but only had one shots. Perhaps Tolliver can help with the Wolves’ 3-point shooting woes. They went 6-for-19 from deep. The Spurs were 11-for-25. … Thibodeau said he wanted to review Towns’ fouls before commenting further on them but Towns committed three of them on the offensive end of the floor. Towns joked that his time in the weight room was finally paying off. “Just to see all that work I did this summer come to fruition, ah man, I was happy,” Towns said. … The Wolves are trying to tell Tyus Jones to be more aggressive shooting the ball on offense. That didn’t go quite as planned on Wednesday as Jones finished just 2 of 7 for four points.


Butler: 'I have no worries in the world' ahead of tonight's opener

SAN ANTONIO – Jimmy Butler said he didn’t feel any nerves before the Timberwolves’ season opener against San Antonio. He wasn’t thinking too much about how the Wolves would look considering he hasn’t practice much with them this preseason. In fact, he said he isn’t thinking about “a thing” right now.  

“I have no worries in the world,” Butler said after shootaround Wednesday. “I’m fortunate to be able to play basketball every day with these incredible group of guys and seriously just going out and playing basketball.”

If you watched the Wolves after shootaround Wednesday you might think there was nothing abnormal about the start to the season. Teammates were joking around, Butler included, before boarding their bus back to their hotel. But the Wolves find themselves in an awkward position to start the year with Butler wanting out of town. But for Wednesday, they had a game to play. 

Butler joked that he was going to foul new Spur DeMar DeRozan, his teammate on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team, “really, really hard at least once, maybe twice,” and said he was looking forward to playing with the Wolves again. 

“I just want to hoop and be out there with my soldiers, go to war, try to the best of my ability help us win,” Butler said.

To accomplish that, Butler said he won’t back down from confronting teammates if the need arose during a game. While he’s still a member of the Wolves, he said, that’s his job. Multiple Wolves said the team suffered from a lack of intensity in the preseason and Butler isn’t going to let that be an excuse Wednesday night. 

“I think we’ll bring it,” Butler said. “If not you’ll see me yelling at people. That’s what I’m supposed to do. You’ll see me talking to some guys nicely, that’s what I’m supposed to do.”

Coach Tom Thibodeau said he’ll monitor how Butler is playing and feeling and wouldn’t set a limit on how many minutes Butler would play. 

Final, 10/17 1 2 3 4 F
Minnesota 0-1 23 29 31 25 108
San Antonio 1-0 31 25 25 31 112

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