In the Timberwolves’ previous two games entering Saturday night, Karl-Anthony Towns got in foul trouble and each time expressed his displeasure when coach Ryan Saunders took him out of the game.
It’s an issue that can pop up every so often for Towns, who is 12th in the NBA in fouls per game at 3.5. Towns said after Friday’s loss to Houston that he has to be “better than that” at displaying his emotions toward Saunders when he has to come out.
“I know Ryan’s just doing his best for the team,” Towns said. “But I’ve said it before, I said it last game, I’m just very passionate, very fiery. Sometimes when I’m out there I’m complaining about a call, it’s not just for me, I’m doing it for someone else.”
Saunders has an almost automatic hook if a players picks up a third foul in the first half or a fourth foul early in the second half, as happened to Towns in Chicago on Wednesday night.
He admitted it’s a tough call to make, but emotion comes into the decision, especially after Towns picked up his third foul in the second quarter of Friday’s game.
“Sometimes if you leave him in there, you put him at risk when emotions are high,” Saunders said. “He’s not happy he got his third foul … there’s likely a chance that he gets his fourth foul, then you’re trying to make a decision on the third quarter.
“There’s a lot of things that play into it, so a lot of it is based off feel. But we have analytics based on when probabilities are when guys are fouling.”
Towns said he is the one Wolves player who takes initiative to talk with officials on behalf of his teammates. Towns said officials allow a “speaking captain” to confer with them during games and he embraces that role.
“I want to make sure all my teammates are safe out there, so I’ve got to be the leader, I’ve got to be the one who’s vocal … ” Towns said. “I’m going to be the one who has to talk to the referees. I live by the motto if you want something done you’ve got to do it yourself.”
Towns said some of his fouls Friday may have come from wanting to do something “extra” to help the Wolves stop their losing streak, which now stands at nine.
“That’s been something that’s been on my mind,” Towns said. “Life doesn’t work the same when you’re on a losing streak, so I was trying to get my life back on track with a winning streak tonight. Obviously fouls didn’t help my cause a little bit.”
Over the next few days, beginning Sunday, the Iowa Wolves team and coaching staff will be in Minnesota for practices and for in-depth evaluations with Wolves medical and training staffs.
It’s also a chance for the coaching staffs to have meetings. The Iowa Wolves are excepted to be in attendance for Monday’s game against Sacramento.
Okogie on Harden
Josh Okogie had another good game defending Rockets guard James Harden on Friday, limiting Harden to 12 points and 3-for-13 shooting. It came after Okogie provided some highlight-level defensive plays on Harden at Target Center last season.
“I’ve been getting the challenge since I was a rookie … guarding all the top players in the league since I was a rookie,” Okogie said. “So, my focus is just trying to play as hard as I can and try to get a stop, and try to be there for my teammates.”
Harden said he thought Okogie is a “solid defender” and said Okogie is as effective as he is because he moves his feet well.