When the game was on the line for the Timberwolves in their 125-119 victory over Golden State, coach Ryan Saunders sent Josh Okogie to the floor.
In that situation, Saunders is hoping Okogie might use his boundless energy to make a few plays that only he can make, the hustling kind. Okogie didn’t disappoint in playing a key supporting role in overtime.
Here was his overtime: A three-pointer to give the Wolves a 115-113 lead, a rebound putback to give them a 118-116 lead, a steal and a tough rebound with the Wolves up four and 1:10 to play.
Okogie finished the night with 14 points on 5 of 10 shooting, seven rebounds and two steals.
“We fought and stayed together,” Okogie said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. The mood of that game was kind of similar to Memphis [on Wednesday] where it was going back and forth, but we just can’t get over the hump. We did a good job of realizing that we needed to pick up the intensity early, and we did that."
Saunders said he might have made a mistake giving Okogie the start against Memphis, saying he though Okogie’s style of play fit better with the second unit.
“I thought I didn’t put him in the best position last game in Memphis with those other guys,” Saunders said. “So the fact that he had maybe not a game up to where he’s been playing, I’ll take that. I thought he’s more comfortable with that second group right now and he’s able to go a little more kamikaze style out there.”
On Friday, Okogie blended well with both units.
Russell a handful
Warriors guard D’Angelo Russell gave the Wolves fits in scoring 52 points, including several jumpers down the stretch of the fourth quarter and overtime. Saunders put the Wolves’ troubles succinctly afterward.
“I mean we were trying to stop him,” Saunders said. “We didn’t do a very good job.”
Russell on the pick and roll was unstoppable. Saunders said he never considered doubling Russell, instead the Wolves began switching the screens later in the game. It didn’t much matter. Russell got what he was looking for all night.