The way Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau tells it, a long season is all about rhythm and routine.
Particularly if you’re Andrew Wiggins at the free-throw line.
A 76 percent shooter from there each of his first three NBA seasons, Wiggins recently has shot himself over 70 percent for the month of March. He now is shooting 64.6 percent for the season; that mark was as low as 55 percent in December.
Until he went 2-for-5 in Saturday’s loss at Philadelphia, Wiggins made 79.3 percent (23-for-29) of his free throws in his previous five games. He credits that recent improvement with getting to the free-throw line more and relaxing more once he’s there.
He averaged only 2.2 free-throw attempts in a game in February and 3.3 in January. In March, that number is 4.7 a game.
“Earlier, I wasn’t to the free-throw line as much and now I’m going a lot more,” Wiggins said. “My previous years, I shot well from the free-throw line. Earlier, I wasn’t shooting as much, so every miss was crucial.”
Now he said he is being more “aggressive” about drawing fouls. “Attacking the rim more,” Wiggins said. “Just focusing.”
If you look closely, you will see him breathe deeply before each attempt.
“I’m trying to slow my process down,” he said. “Last year, I always took a longer time at the free-throw line. This year, I feel I rushed it a little bit. I’m just trying to take my time.”
Last season, Wiggins shot double-digit free throws 14 times — including 22 in one game — and only once didn’t attempt a free throw when the Wolves offense ran through him and Karl-Anthony Towns. He led the team in attempts with 6.6 a game.
This season, he has yet to reach double-digit free throws in a game and has 10 games in which he didn’t attempt one. He is shooting 3.96 free throws per game, third behind Towns’ 4.8 and Jimmy Butler’s 7.1.
Thibodeau said Wiggins shot better from the line as last season progressed.
“He did the same thing last year,” Thibodeau said, “so you know, he’ll end up hopefully where we expect him to be. He has worked hard at it. He has done it from the beginning of the year. He has found a good rhythm.”
Now that their G League team’s season is over, the Wolves on Sunday recalled rookie center Justin Patton and brought back to the NBA two-way contract players Anthony Brown and Amile Jefferson as well.
The 16th player selected in last summer’s NBA draft, Patton played 38 games for the Iowa Wolves, averaging 12.7 points on 47.5 percent shooting, 5.4 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 23.1 minutes a game. The Iowa team played its season’s final game Saturday.
He is eligible to play in the NBA playoffs, but Brown and Jefferson would have to sign an NBA contract to be on the team’s playoff roster. None of the three has played in a Wolves game this season.
Fan from afar
While brother Tre played for a second consecutive boys’ basketball state championship at Target Center, Wolves guard Tyus Jones watched by phone as his team flew home from Philadelphia on Saturday night.
He also FaceTimed with Butler, who sat courtside at the Class 4A final. Tre Jones’ Apple Valley team lost to Cretin-Derham Hall on a last-second alley-oop dunk by Daniel Oturu.
“I get more nervous watching Tre than I do playing,” Tyus Jones said before he flew home to Minnesota. “I want him to succeed.”
Staff writer Kent Youngblood contributed to this report.