Jerryd Bayless didn’t realize the uniqueness of what was happening around him.
“Honestly, I don’t remember,” Bayless said.
Neither did Anthony Tolliver.
“I didn’t even notice it to tell you the truth,” Tolliver said.
Since taking over for Tom Thibodeau, interim coach Ryan Saunders hasn’t been afraid to tinker with rotations and substitution patterns, unlike the rigid Thibodeau.
Toward the end of the first quarter and in the early minutes of the second Saunders unleashed perhaps his maddest experiment yet – four big men off the bench in Dario Saric, Anthony Tolliver, Luol Deng and Gorgui Dieng, playing alongside either point guard Isaiah Canaan, who made his Wolves debut on a 10-day contract, or Jerryd Bayless. They actually played well, and the four forwards increased an early Wolves lead from 11 to 15 over the 3:56 they were on the floor together.
That lineup combination came about in part from Karl-Anthony Towns’ nagging foul trouble. It also came about because of the Wolves’ injury issues, with Tyus Jones, Robert Covington, Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague all out.
“It’s kind of funny. In practice the other day, we said, ‘Well, there’s nobody to go with the guards.’ So we had to figure stuff out,” Tolliver said.
They did well enough to get by for a while. To the players, a lineup like that is emblematic of Saunders’ approach to the game – how he’s not afraid to throw a lineup together and stick with it if it’s working.
“I think he’s going to try most things and that’s a testament to who he is,” Bayless said. “A lot of guys are pretty rigid. That’s not a knock against coaches, it’s just the reality, they have their way with things and stick with it by any means. Ryan has been open to trying new things and I think it shows."
Wiggins’ tough night
Everyone had a tough night who played in Wednesday’s ugly affair, but Andrew Wiggins had an especially gruesome game, scoring 12 points on 4 of 19 shooting in 41 minutes. Wiggins’ night also included three turnovers and he missed his final shot before Towns got the rebound to win the game.
Other lineup notes
Canaan, who is on a 10-day contract, made his Wolves debut backing up Bayless. He got a decent run playing in his first game Nov. 27. Canaan played 13 minutes and had three points, but he was a minus-17 when he was on the floor. Tolliver, after not playing Sunday, ended up playing 25 minutes and scoring 10 points on 3 of 7 shooting.