There are times, especially recently, when watching film from games wasn’t the most pleasant experience for Wolves players.
For at least one day, that changed.
Before Monday’s practice the team watched film of Sunday’s 30-point victory over a struggling and beat-up Phoenix team, a victory that broke a nine-game Wolves losing streak.
And while any win is welcome in that situation, the way the Wolves did it Sunday is something interim coach Sam Mitchell hopes the team can take forward. Especially when it comes to ball movement.
“It’s a good teaching point from the standpoint of things that can happen, the shots you can get,” Mitchell said. “To score 117 points on 69 shots? Getting to the free throw [40 times] helped a lot. But we got really, really good shots. The spacing was better. I thought we set better screens.”
The focus of the film session was to show what can happen when the ball moves, something that didn’t happen a lot during the losing streak. Or when Karl-Anthony Towns and Gorgui Dieng set good screens.
“It was a win we needed a lot,” Mitchell said. “And not just winning the game, but winning it the way we did.”
The Wolves did it with seven players scoring in double figures, with 10 players getting at least one assist.
Now the team needs to do more of it.
“I think when the ball is not moving we have the wrong idea,” Ricky Rubio said. “It’s, ‘I have to do more.’ Sometimes you have to do less. It means you don’t have to take the shot, just do the extra pass and keep moving. When we’re not scoring we take it as personal. We need to take it as a team.”
There were several examples of team play. Early in the fourth quarter the Wolves got consecutive three-point plays, both starting with a crisp screen by Dieng that forced the Suns to help on defense. A couple of passes later, the Wolves had a layup.
Another positive was the way the Wolves built on their 10-point halftime lead.
“We made a lot of good plays,” Wiggins said. “We did a lot of good things that we can build on towards the next game.”
Work paying off?
Rubio has been working on his shot ever since he came into the league.
Of late, much of that work has centered on his becoming an effective spot-up three-point shooter, especially in the corner. It’s something Rubio and assistant coach Ryan Saunders always work on after practice.
It appears to be bearing fruit. Rubio went 2-for-5 on three-pointers and scored 18 points Sunday. Over his past 21 games he is 22-for-53 on three-pointers (41.5 percent)
“Teams play Ricky a certain way,” Mitchell said. “And when he comes out and makes those shots, it helps. We have guys like Andrew [Wiggins] and Zach [LaVine] who can put pressure on a team with the pick and roll. If Ricky can get to the corners … He has shown that, when he gets his feet set, he can knock down some shots.”
In retrospect, Mitchell admitted, it probably wasn’t a good idea to give assistant Vince Legarza a piggyback ride into the Wolves locker room after Sunday’s victory. He did it to show the players the size of the weight that had been removed from their backs by ending a nine-game losing streak.
But Mitchell has battled back pain the last couple years, and the 6-9 Legarza isn’t exactly small.
“My back is hurting a little bit,” Mitchell said. “I’ll go ahead and get some treatment. Not very smart.
‘‘But sometimes when you haven’t been winning and you win a game, you just get beside yourself and go over the edge a little bit.’’