Wolves practice ended a bit early Thursday. That may have to do with the team being in the middle of a rather hectic place in their schedule. But it also may indicate coach Tom Thibodeau is a little happier by what he’s seeing both during games and on film.

His team has won three of its last four, including two straight heading into Friday’s game with Sacramento. And, during that stretch, the defense has been much improved.

“We’re in a pretty good routine now,” Thibodeau said. “We went through a film session, went through some different things, on both offense and defense, and cleaned up some things. But we’re making progress. They’re headed in the right direction. There is still a lot of room for improvement we have to make. But we’re going in the right direction. The understanding is better.’’

Over those four games the Wolves have allowed 99.3 points per game, down from their season average of 106.1. Opponents have shot 42.7 percent, down from the 46.6 for the full season.

That is measurable progress.

“We should have been doing this all year,” Zach LaVine said. “We’re just getting better at it. It’s starting to click. We’re getting fed up with blowing leads.’’

Another measurable improvement? The Wolves have allowed just 8.5 points per game on the fast break, an indication that both offensive execution is better and transition defense has improved.

“I thought that was our best effort to get back,” Thibodeau said of Wednesday’s victory in Atlanta, when the Hawks did not register a fast break basket. “To get back, and to get set up. And I think the communication was good. But it’s something we definitely have to work on.’’

Again Thursday Thibodeu praised his team’s work ethic.

“I see what they’re trying to do, and how they’re working,’’ he said. “I’m not disappointed in them. As long as we’re doing the right things we’ll improve.’’

A couple other items:

--It was a matchup decision that kept Cole Aldrich on the bench in Atlanta. Thibodeau said Aldrich would have played had Hawks center Dwight Howard played. But when Howard’s sore back kept him out, the Hawks went small. “When a team downsizes like they did, you have to make those decisions,’’ Thibodeau said. “Cole has done a good job for us.’’

--LaVine on being the NBA’s minutes leader: “I’m good. I’m only 21. I’m enjoying it, and I’m thankful  for being healthy.’’