Patrick Beverley had the take locked and loaded, ready for the assembled media after Monday's practice.
The Timberwolves guard was about to fly with the rest of his team to Memphis to play the Grizzlies in Game 5 of their best-of-seven NBA series, which is tied at two, Tuesday night.
But he wasn't going to leave before offering his opinion on Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins' recent criticism of the officiating, which is why he turned a question on the Timberwolves offense into his own editorial.
"I seen the interview with Coach Jenkins about the referees,'' Beverley said. "Very interesting there. Especially due to the fact they shot 42 [actually 43] free throws the first time we played 'em. And I don't think [Wolves] coach [Chris] Finch complained at all. You know, he took it on the chin."
After a one-point loss in Game 4, a game in which the Wolves made 31 of 40 free throws — and Memphis made 19 of 25 — Jenkins called it "one of the most poorly officiated games I've ever seen in my NBA career."
And he wasn't done. "I've never seen a more inconsistent, arrogant officiated game," he added. That outburst cost the 37-year-old Jenkins $15,000.
Beverley wasn't having it. He mentioned how Grizzlies guard Ja Morant has been able to avoid foul trouble. He mentioned he took what he believed to be charges from Morant twice in games, but didn't get the call.
For the series, Memphis has shot 131 free throws and the Wolves 118.
"But we're not up here complaining about referees," Beverley said. "I think referees are in a tough position as it is already. Coming from a young coach, that's just something you don't do. Especially during playoff time. So I was kind of a little bit confused about that."
Asked if he intended to mention this to Jenkins himself, Beverley said no. "I mentioned it to you guys," he said. "I'm pretty sure you're going to put it out."
After a sterling, off-the-bench, 16-point performance in Game 4, Jordan McLaughlin admitted that he got a bunch of texts from friends. But he's not about to dwell on his performance, just as he didn't dwell on the fact that he didn't see the court in Game 3.
"Games come quick in the league so you can't get too high or two low on one performance," the Wolves guard said. "You've got to go out there and try to do it again."
Finch is already on record saying he should have put McLaughlin into Game 3, especially late, with D'Angelo Russell and Beverley tiring and Memphis making a run.
After Game 4, Anthony Edwards sang McLaughlin's praises. Beverley did the same Monday.
"He's the ultimate pro," Beverley said. "He's been the ultimate pro since I've been here."
Beverley mentioned one game from two seasons ago when McLaughlin went off for 24 points against the Clippers, where Beverley was at the time. Making sure to mention he didn't play in that game, he said that was when McLaughlin got on his radar.
"What he does on the court doesn't shock me," Beverley said. "We need more playmakers this type of series, to get into the paint and make plays. That's what he's been doing."
McLaughlin got a standing ovation when he left Saturday's game in the fourth quarter. It was his first, he said, since he played for USC in college.
"I'm greatly appreciative of it," he said. "And I appreciate all the fans that have been at Target Center, for sure."
- Finch said Karl-Anthony Towns' defense has been "elite" during the series. "Really good,'' Finch said. "Whether it's been in the pick and roll or at the rim, rebounding, guarding one-on-one on the perimeter. All parts of his defense has been great. Even the foul trouble he's been in has been offensive fouls."
- Finch said the Wolves' offense late in Saturday's game wasn't good. "It was a lot of static, iso[lation] stuff," he said. "We went away from a lot of things we talked about. We played too much hero ball. We know that's gotten us into trouble, particularly against this team. That's something we addressed today."
- Morant was named the NBA's Most Improved Player, beating out fellow All-Star guards Dejounte Murray of San Antonio and Darius Garland of Cleveland. Morant's scoring average jumped from 19.1 points per game in 2020-21 to 27.4 this season, and his shooting percentage improved from 44.9% to 49.3%.