OKLAHOMA CITY – After the Timberwolves 138-101 blowout win over Oklahoma City, center Naz Reid pulled back the curtain on why the team's bench has found success as the season moves along after first-half struggles.
Reid gave a lot of credit to veteran Taurean Prince for improving the group's chemistry.
"He's the leader of that group, I would say," Reid said. "He talks, lets the guys know where they need to be, when they need to be there. Then off the court, he's like 'You guys can come to my room whenever, chop it up, talk about basketball.'
That off-court camaraderie has helped the Wolves bench become a force the second half of the season. The bench turned Friday's game into a blowout and gave the Wolves their third-straight win. It helps, Reid said, when the bench has veterans like Prince and D'Angelo Russell, a starter who plays a lot with the bench unit, taking the reins on communicating and leading.
"Everything is so much easier," Reid said. "They're talking, they know where you're supposed to be, so they're telling you to get to where you're supposed to be if you're not there already. It just makes the game so much easier for the next guy."
Prince said he and Reid are lockermates and that has helped the two become close this season. He said he learned how valuable friendships in a locker room can be – and how they can help translate to on-court performances – when he was a rookie in Atlanta playing with Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap.
"Just being able to learn from those two guys from jump street, take a couple things and put in my bag and carry it along with me really helped," Prince said.
Prince said he's a part of a culture of leadership the Wolves have built under coach Chris Finch that flows through Patrick Beverley, Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell.
"We do a great job to make sure that guys link up, as soon as we get to the hotel and just do things," Prince said. "We talk about whatever, whether it's basketball or regular life. To piggyback off what Naz says, we have a lot more conversations whether it's about basketball or life. I think that definitely goes a long way."
Being chummy doesn't always lead to on-court success, but it seems to have helped the Wolves come together as a team the second-half of the season.
"Even off the court, we're talking about basketball," Reid said. "We're in each other's rooms talking about how to defend this guy or what type of energy. All that stuff matters, and I didn't realize that until this year."