It wasn’t him.
That was Taj Gibson’s message Monday morning, after the Timberwolves’ pregame shootaround preparing for the rematch with Sacramento, about the online brushfire that occurred over the weekend while he was in North Carolina for his aunt’s funeral.
Talk about a difficult week.
He lost an aunt close to him. A woman, Gibson said, who helped raise him. And then, unknown to him, he was the focus of some online speculation in which people tried to connect the dots between Gibson missing the Wolves’ game in Phoenix with his having liked two Instagram posts critical of coach Tom Thibodeau.
“It’s crazy,” Gibson said. “I’m not a social media kind of guy. I love my teammates, I love my coach. So those things don’t show for me at all.”
Gibson could not explain how his verified Instagram account liked the two posts. Asked if he had been hacked, he said he didn’t know. All he said was, it wasn’t him.
In fact, Gibson said he didn’t know anything about it until he started getting messages. And calls. Including one from Thibodeau himself.
“I got a call from Thibs and was like, ‘Come on, Coach, you know my character better than that,’ ” Gibson said. “I’m not an analytic guy. I don’t look at things like that. I wasn’t even aware of my Instagram. I was worried about a funeral. I love my teammates. I love Minnesota. I’m a straightforward kind of guy. I’m not going to throw slick shots at anybody.”
Said Thibodeau: “I believe Taj. I’ve known him a long time. It’s unfortunate. He had a death in the family and he was dealing with that, and he has to deal with some other stuff.”
Gibson lost a shoe in the first quarter Monday. He did it scoring in the post. And then he bent down, picked up the shoe, and ran down the court to defend, chasing down Nemanja Bjelica with shoe in hand, appearing even trying to use the shoe to block the shot.
“I’m all for it,” Josh Okogie said. “We’ve got to get stops by any means, and if it means taking your shoe to try to block a shot, hey, I’ll do it with you.”
Well, the shot was blocked, but it was Karl-Anthony Towns who blocked it.
Nemanja Bjelica made his 30th start Monday night, but it was his first at Target Center in a visitor’s uniform.
Bjelica starts for the Kings, where he has found regular playing time, a coach who lets him play through difficult times and a team that appears on the rise.
“Coach [Dave Joerger] knows how to use me,” Bjelica said. “And everything is about opportunity.”
Bjelica entered the game averaging career highs in minutes (24.6), shooting percentage (54.3), three-point percentage (48.5), rebounds (5.9), assists (2.0) and points (11.5). Bjelica had 25 points on 9-for-15 shooting in the Kings’ victory over the Wolves last week, including a game-icing three-pointer late.
Bjelica, who was scoreless in just five minutes of action Monday night, said Minnesota always will hold a special place for him. The Wolves drafted him and he played three seasons here. But, when pressed, he said that getting regular minutes with the Kings is a blessing.
“Because I’m a human being … I felt sometimes bad [with the Wolves] because I didn’t get enough chance. Even if I got the chance, I was always going back to the bench. I accept that. I just tried to be a great teammate, and that’s it. I want people to remember me like that.”
Starting point guard Jeff Teague missed Monday’s game because of soreness in his left ankle. Derrick Rose made his seventh start of the season in his place.
This is the second time Teague has been out. He missed six games starting in late October into November because of knee soreness, with the Wolves going 1-5 in those games.
Teague said he first hurt the ankle in Brooklyn on Nov. 23.
“It keeps getting worse,” Teague said.