After passing up a late shot Friday, Timberwolves reserve forward Dario Saric, in the middle of a mini-slump, pledged he wouldn’t do it again. He would keep shooting, he said. It’s the only way to get through it.
Saturday, he did both. He kept shooting, and they started to fall.
Saric entered Saturday’s game with New Orleans having made just five of his past 17 three-pointers in the previous six games, shooting just 34.9 percent overall in that stretch.
Saturday? Saric came off the bench to score 14 points.
All of them came in the second half, after he got into foul trouble in the first. In the second half he hit four of six shots, two of three three-pointers and had three rebounds.
“It’s a credit to Dario,’’ interim coach Ryan Saunders said. “He could have hung his head, even after getting his three fouls early on. But he stayed ready.’’
Said Saric: “In the second half I was there. I was ready to help the team. I hope it’s just the beginning.’’
Karl-Anthony Towns — who made his 289th start in a row despite suffering an injury Friday — hosted 12-year-old Isaac Zude as part of the Make-A-Wish program Saturday.
Zude, a big fan of the Wolves and of Towns in particular, is living with leukemia. Born in Kentucky, Zude now lives in Davenport, Iowa. He and his family attended Saturday night’s game, watching warmups from the bench and meeting Towns after the game.
And if Zude was happy for the opportunity, so was Towns.
“When I found out about it, and when I got the opportunity to do it, I couldn’t tell you how happy I was,” Towns said. “You never think that someone having a Make-A-Wish opportunity wants to meet somebody like me. It’s a humbling and touching experience that I’m very honored to have.”
Veteran Luol Deng doesn’t play much. But Saturday, wanting to rest Taj Gibson, and with Saric sitting with three fouls, Saunders took assistant coach Larry Greer’s suggestion and put Deng in with 8:06 left in the second quarter and the Wolves trailing by a point.
Deng was on the court during the ensuing 13-0 Wolves run, scoring five points in the process, including a corner three-pointer that put the Wolves up 11 with 4:24 left in the half. Teammates came off the bench to congratulate Deng in the ensuing timeout.
“There are moments in games, in practices, team outings, when you feel the connection,’’ Saunders said. “And you feel good about people who work hard. For the team to share that with Luol is a big thing.’’
Saunders is committed to getting his team to take fewer long two-point shots. Here’s one way he’s done it: In a recent scrimmage during practice, Saunders made long twos worth a negative point.
“It’s something we worked on,” Saunders said. “We’re trying to acclimate guys to that mind-set with in-game situations.”
• Derrick Rose (ankle) was held out of Saturday’s back end of a back-to-back.