Timberwolves veteran Robert Covington and new Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce spent four years together in Philadelphia, where Pierce, the 76ers assistant coach at the time, named a defensive-transition drill after Covington's pet snake Max.

Let us explain.

The Sixers then — and the Hawks now — held breakfast meetings in which players and coaches often revealed something about themselves to get to know each other better.

One morning, Covington talked about his love for snakes ever since he watched "Animal Planet" as a kid and near the end of his address, he reached into his backpack and introduced everyone to Max, a ball python.

"And the whole room scattered," Covington said, laughing.

"That stuff was funny."

Nobody moved faster reportedly than Sixers star big man Joel Embiid.

Collectively, everybody moved so fast they named the drill "Max" after the snake, one of two Covington owns. (Elle is the other.)

"We're always telling everyone to sprint back," Pierce said, "and they did it when they saw that snake."

Covington has brought his NBA first-team defensive skills and his love for snakes from Philadelphia to Minnesota, where player and coach were reunited Friday.

"Unbelievable worker, unbelievable person," Pierce said, "and about as loyal and low-maintenance a guy as you'll find. I'm happy he's here and I'm happy he's playing well."

He lived it

Friday's game was the first between the teams since Wolves star Karl-Anthony Towns scored a franchise-record 56 points in a game late last March that Towns' team really needed to win for playoff ramifications — and they did, 126-114. Asked if he has watched that game since then, Towns said, "No, I was there."


The Wolves played Friday's overtime's final four minutes without starting point guard Derrick Rose, who sprained his right ankle after his sore left one caused him to miss Sunday's game.

• Lynx veteran Rebekkah Brunson joined FSN's broadcast Friday, the first of 10 games she'll work this season. She joins Jim Petersen and Dave Benz for six games and will do the pregame show, as she did Friday, the other four.

•Timberwolves rookie Keita Bates-Diop remains with the team for now after he was recalled from their G-League team in Iowa last week. Coach Tom Thibodeau said he likes Bates-Diop both being around the team and getting meaningful playing time in Iowa.

• The Hawks invited former Wolves center Cole Aldrich to training camp because their young team needed a veteran's experience and muscle for practice. He signed to play in China after Atlanta released him early in camp and now is back home in Plymouth for six weeks after he sprained a knee ligament while playing there.

•The headband Josh Okogie wore for Wednesday's game in Chicago was gone Friday. "I only went with the headband because we had been on the road for a long time and I didn't like the way my hair was looking," he said. "But I got a haircut."