After Friday's game had ended with a third straight one-sided defeat, Timberwolves guard D'Angelo Russell, along with rookie Anthony Edwards, returned to the court from the locker room and started taking shots.
And, perhaps, a way to work off a little frustration during the difficult stretch the Wolves are going through with star center Karl-Anthony Towns on the bench, injured, and a Wolves rotation further altered by a hamstring injury to Josh Okogie.
"A lot of positions that we're put in right now, it's foreign for us,'' Russell said during a Zoom conference call Saturday. "It's not something that we're used to or accustomed to. Having someone like KAT not in the game … it's putting a lot of extra on a lot of us. So, just figuring out ways to stay positive with it and trust the process.''
It's clear the Timberwolves are working through a difficult stretch. After opening the season with two victories, the Wolves have been routed in three consecutive games, losing each by 21 or more points. The first two came in Los Angeles against contenders in the Lakers and Clippers. But Friday the Wolves played a winless Washington team without Russell Westbrook (rest) and playing on the end of back-to-back games.
A three-point game at halftime got out of hand in the third quarter.
So, after the game, Russell got in some extra shots. Saturday, before practice, he and Wolves coach Ryan Saunders met to see how they could help each other. There is frustration, Saunders said. "But we're frustrated for the right reasons,'' he said. "We need to channel that frustration and maybe that anger into productive play.
"We talked through ideas, situations. But we also talked through how we need to, individually, be better for the collective, too. He's very prideful, too. So we addressed some things that he can help with the group in the short term with Karl being out.''
Russell talked about how difficult it has been with players having to do things they're not familiar with, citing Jarrett Culver's experience moving to power forward.
But Russell is perhaps struggling with change, too. He has played a lot off the ball of late, when on the floor with Ricky Rubio. That often takes Russell out of the pick-and-roll game, something he is very good at. In the three losses Russell has shot 17-for-42 and made six of 19 three-pointers. On the floor, he is a minus-89 in 78 minutes played.
Russell admitted that he's not yet sure a system in which he's off the ball fits him: "It's too early to tell if this fits my style of play. I've played in multiple different styles, so I think I can adjust to any style.''
The key, Russell said, is simplifying the game plan, making it easier for players to know their roles.
"It can't be different every night,'' he said. "I mean, it's huge. I hate saying we're young. But it matters. It matters if you want continuity. It matters when it's four possessions in a row and we haven't gotten a good shot yet. It's having that continuity to your offense where you can just get it moving and it's second nature, not a play call. And that comes with time.''
On that Saunders agreed, saying he would pare down the offense. He also said he would talk to the team about playing harder.
Ultimately, both Saunders and Russell said the team would right itself.
"Everything is kind of falling apart when one person doesn't know,'' Russell said. "It's just us adjusting to that position you're going to be in and being in that position comfortably. I think that's where things will get easier for us.''