As part of their annual tradition, Timberwolves players took local kids on a $500 holiday shopping spree at Target on Friday. This year’s event was in partnership with the United Heroes League and benefited kids in low-income families who have a parent recently deployed in the military overseas. Point guard Tyus Jones, who has worked previously with United Heroes League and participated in Friday’s event, chatted afterward with the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand:
Q: Was this year’s event particularly special for you?
A: It was, it was very cool. Combining this with UHL, which I work with quite often, makes even more special to me. This is my favorite thing that we do, and to see some UHL families out here is awesome.
Q: You got to go watch your brother, Tre, play Thursday when Apple Valley took on Minnehaha Academy on national TV. How much fun was that?
A: That was great. They got to be on ESPN, and I remember like it was yesterday getting to do that when I was in high school. … It’s the biggest deal. It’s something he’ll remember forever, and for me to be in town even with our crazy schedule, that meant everything.
Q: You mentioned the crazy schedule so far. This team has been all over the map, but you have a five-game homestand starting Sunday. Does it feel like you can catch your breath?
A: Yeah, it’s like the first part of the season is done and we get to take a deep breath. When you have a few home games in a row, you want to look to put a few good wins together.
Q: A lot of people, myself included, have made a big deal about the number of minutes the starters have played. Even when you started in place of Jeff Teague for a few games, you logged a lot of time. When you’re out on the court, how much does that matter?
A: I think when you’re in the game, that’s the last thing you think about. You’re not thinking, “I’ve been in for such-and-such minutes.” That’s not what you think about in the moment. Guys who are playing more minutes feel it a little more postgame and that next morning. But in the game, that’s definitely not what you’re thinking about. You’re trying to win the game.
Q: Did you still feel it when you played a lot those few games?
A: Yeah, I felt it. And it was different for me because that’s not what I was doing every game. I definitely felt it, but you have to be able to bounce back.
Q: Does your mentality change starting vs. coming off the bench?
A: It’s a little different. You’re playing with different players. But as a point guard, your overall job is the same. You want to make sure things are organized, make sure you’re an extension of the coach on the floor, make sure we’re getting good possessions and that the game is under control.
Q: You’re 15-11, fourth-best record in the Western Conference. But I get a sense that there is still fan angst about this team. Why do you think that is?
A: I think fans and ourselves look at it like we should win every game. That’s just where our expectations are at right now. If we drop a game, fans are disappointed and we’re disappointed. That’s a good thing. We’re 15-11 like you said, started off the year pretty well but dropped a couple games that we probably should have won. There’s always room for improvement.