Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau turned 59 today. Offered congrats after this morning’s shootaround by a group of media, he laughed. “If you were really my friends you wouldn’t mention that,’’ he said.
So, did he – or will he – celebrate the milestone? “No, no, no,’’ he said. “You get to this point, you don’t celebrate, you hope they just keep going.’’
OK. Well, his young team offered these ideas on presents for their coach:
Gorgui Dieng: “If we win tonight we’re going to have to have the rookie sing ‘’Happy Birthday’’ to him,’’ Dieng said, referring to rookie guard Kris Dunn.
Karl-Anthony Towns: “Don’t lose.’’
But Zach LaVine was the funniest: "I feel if I play some defense he’ll have the best birthday ever. So I’ll try to go out and play the best defense of the year.’’
OK, on to more serious stuff:
--After missing practice yesterday, Dieng said he’s feeling good and ready to go. “Yesterday was a tough day for me,’’ said Dieng, who was the team’s best player in Sunday’s loss in Dallas. “I rested, drank a lot of water, took some medicine. I feel good.’’
--Sunday Thibodeau described the team’s effort in the loss in Dallas as “lethargic.’’
Now, in this up-and-down season, there have been problems to work through. But lack of energy hasn’t often been the issue.
It was enough of a surprise that Thibodeau talked to the team about it. “This is a very good work group,’’ he said. “A very good practice group. And, for the most part, there have been very few games that have been like that. So, that was the thing. Every once in a while you may have a flat game. But there were things we could have done that could have gotten us going.’’
It appears the team listened. According to Thibodeau, the team had a “terrific’’ practice Monday and a very spirited morning workout today.
“I hope that translates [in the game],’’ Thibodeau said. “The big thing is to continue to improve. We didn’t play well on either end in Dallas. I want to bounce back tonight. This will be a good test for us. ‘’
--One group definitely looking to bounce back is the bench, which struggled mightily Sunday. “It was a struggle,’’ said Shabazz Muhammad. “They came out with more of an edge than we did. Tonight we can’t have that.’’
--It’s never easy playing the Spurs. But it’s especially hard when San Antonio is coming off a loss. The Spurs lost to Phoenix in Mexico City Saturday. The Spurs, in fact, have lost two of their last three games.