CLEVELAND – To close Monday’s 102-95 victory over the Cavaliers, Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau kept one of his players who is signed to a maximum contract, Andrew Wiggins, on the bench for a player signed to a minimum deal, Derrick Rose.
It wasn’t as some form of punishment for Wiggins, nor did Thibodeau think Wiggins was playing all that badly.
To hear Thibodeau tell it, it was a product of the matchups and expect to see Wiggins back on the floor the next time the Wolves are in a close game.
“Wig will be out there most of the time,” Thibodeau said. “It’s just [the Cavaliers] were playing zone and I wanted more dribble penetration and so I actually was thinking about putting him in at the 4 [power forward position], but it was just the way the game was unfolding. Wig will finish most games.”
Wiggins responded to his 0-for-12 showing against the Bulls on Saturday with a 4 of 11 performance on Monday. He finished with 11 points. He missed 5 of 6 shots in the first half with his lone basket coming on an uncontested layup. He shot 3 of 5 in the second half. Rose, who provided the dribble penetration Thibodeau was seeking, tallied 12 points on 6 of 13 shooting.
No rest for weary
The Wolves traveled to play the Nets on Friday in Brooklyn. Then they flew home for a game against the Bulls on Saturday. Then they got back on a plane Sunday to fly to Cleveland in advance of Monday’s game. The schedule meant the Wolves were exhausted, according to Rose.
That’s why the Wolves couldn’t pull away from Cleveland despite multiple double-digit leads for Minnesota in the second half.
“We were tired, man. But we got through it,” Rose said. “Right when we came into the came, kind of felt it. By halftime, we knew what it was. We knew it was going to be a grind game and toward the end you can see there was times where we could’ve pushed but we just didn’t have it.”
Rose said a win like Monday’s could be a “character building” win for the Wolves since it came with them playing at less than 100 percent energy.
“Everything is not going to be perfect. Every game is not going to be perfect,” Rose said. “As long as you’re scratching wins out, we know how hard it is to win in this league. … Get the win, no matter the stats or whatever is going on. At the end of the day we feel good about how we played and we got the W.”
The Wolves allowed just four fast-break points to the Cavaliers on Monday. For Thibodeau, the defense has improved in that area since a rough beginning to the season.
“Guys are doing a much better job of communicating and sprinting back versus backpedaling and stuff like that,” Thibodeau said. “That’s changed and it has to change.”