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Covington says he's 'fine'; Thibodeau says he's trying to get back into rhythm

PHOENIX -- Robert Covington has insisted the right knee that caused him to miss a game against Portland on Dec. 9 is fine.

Coach Tom Thibodeau also side Covington is fine physically.

Covington’s short absence knocked him off a rhythm that had Covington playing at a high level and that could be one reason why the Wolves’ defense slacked on their 0-4 road trip that ended with a 107-99 loss to Phoenix on Saturday at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

“He’s fine in terms of health but when you’re out for five days you’re out of rhythm,” Thibodeau said. “That’s where I think he is. We just have to let him work through it and get him going … “He’s one of those guys, you can tell when he’s in rhythm. .... Physically now he’s good and he’s just got get his basketball rhythm back.”

“He’s been around so he’ll get his rhythm back fairly quickly. It’s unfortunate it came at the time it did.”

Covington didn’t quite see it that way after the game.

“The injury, it’s not that serious. It’s just being more precautious of everything,” Covington said. “I still [have] the same attention to details there. It’s just the way things have transpired collectively it takes away what we’ve been doing.”

They may have differing opinions on just where Covington is physically but they agreed on the state of the Wolves’ defense, which is in need of repair. The Wolves gave up a season high 141 points to the Kings on Wednesday before allowing Devin Booker free reign in scoring 28 points on 10 of 16 shooting while dishing out seven assists.

Thibodeau pointed to the Wolves missing Taj Gibson as one reason why the Wolves allowed 15 second-chance points to the Suns while Covington said the Wolves needed to regain the motivation they were playing with after he and Dario Saric arrived last month from Philadelphia.  

“We got a little bit too comfortable but being in this league, you can’t get comfortable,” Covington said. “The urgency we played with the first few games, we haven’t played with the last two especially. The attention to detail has to get a little more. We just got to amp it up a little more to get that edge back to us.”

Offense goes stagnant

The Wolves had a weird fourth quarter in which Derrick Rose was the only player who score points at all until there was 1 minute, 20 seconds remaining in the game. The Wolves had their worst 3-point shooting night of the season (7 for 35, 20 percent).

Thibodeau wasn’t sure if the 3s were ill-advised -- he said he’d have to go back and watch the film -- but the Wolves didn’t capitalize when the Suns tried double teaming Karl-Anthony Towns after Towns had 21 points in the first half.

“We had wide open 3s that we missed,” Thibodeau said. “Maybe we should’ve driven the ball more, but the big thing is if we’re not shooting well we have to be able to count on our defense and rebounding.”

Rose finished with 25 points on 11 of 16 shooting to lead the Wolves while Towns finished with 28 on 11 of 26.


Wolves blame themselves for failing to contain red-hot Kings

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Kings were on fire Wednesday night and hit 19 of 38 three-pointers in downing the Wolves 141-130. You might think the Kings just had a lucky night shooting, but the Wolves didn’t view it that way.

They didn’t do a good enough job of preventing those attempts in the first place.

“When a guy hits a three, you have to run him off the line,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “You can’t close short on him.”

To Thibodeau, the Wolves weren’t hustling enough to match the fast-paced Kings, who had the second-fastest offense in the league entering Wednesday. This led to holes in the defense that the Kings were able to exploit with ball movement to the weak side.

“The problem was we were in scramble situations because if you have one guy jogging back … now you have to cover for someone, now you’re leaving someone else open.”

Derrick Rose said there was also a lack of communication while Robert Covington said the Kings took advantage of every mistake the Wolves made.

“We didn’t string enough stops together to come out and get a win,” Covington said. “I think it was just one of them nights. They were making a lot of shots.”

Okogie gets in
Josh Okogie played six minutes off the bench to start the second quarter, a surprise given Okogie was the 10th man in Thibodeau’s rotation. Okogie has been the odd man out when Thibodeau has a healthy roster. Okogie played his minutes early in the second quarter, normally when Robert Covington plays with four bench players.

Thibodeau said Okogie’s minutes didn’t have anything to do with trying to limit Covington’s minutes.

“We were matching him with [Buddy] Hield,” Thibodeau said.

Covington played 31 minutes, scoring 17 points and said his knee felt fine after the game.

Wiggins’ strong night
One of the bright spots for the Wolves was the play of Andrew Wiggins, who had an efficient 25 points on 10 of 15 shooting. This came after Wiggins shot 14 of 33 in his previous two games.

Wiggins missed his first two shots of the night – both 3-point attempts – and changed his mindset after that.

“I was just trying to get to the rim,” Wiggins said. “It kept working, so I kept going with it.”

Bjelica’s revenge
Former Wolves forward Nemaja Bjelica saved one of his best games for his former team. He scored 25 points on 9 of 15 shooting, including 4 of 9 from 3-point range. Bjelica made sure to twist the knife in the fourth quarter, hitting a key 3-pointer to put the Kings up eight with 1:42 to play and stifle a late comeback effort from the Wolves.

“We’ve seen that a lot from him,” Thibodeau said. “He’s a great shooter and so you can’t give him airspace.”

Final, 12/15 1 2 3 4 F
Minnesota 13-16 30 28 24 17 99
Phoenix 6-24 28 28 29 22 107

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