A day before Saturday's game at Washington, new Timberwolves coach Chris Finch was talking about his nonstop pace since he was introduced as Wolves coach Monday.
He was so busy, he said, that he hadn't had time to pause and reflect on the opportunity he has been given.
So, like everything else he has done since jumping into the mix, he's doing that on the fly.
"I'm soaking it in every minute," he said. "Because when you get the opportunity to realize your dream, it's a daily thing. Working in the NBA has been a dream come true, no matter the job."
Finch's tenure is closing in on its first week. But already he has learned, firsthand, the challenges that come with the job of coaching a team without D'Angelo Russell indefinitely, without Malik Beasley for the next few weeks and without the taste of victory for some time.
Saturday's 128-112 loss was the team's seventh straight, the third under Finch.
For a half, the Timberwolves kept pace with Washington, one of the NBA's faster teams. For a half — or most of a half — they controlled Wizards guard Bradley Beal, the NBA's leading scorer, with Josh Okogie stepping in as a starter and guarding him. For a half the Timberwolves used hustle and defense to make up for the loss of Beasley, who began serving a 12-game suspension.
Eventually, the host Wizards awakened. Beal finished with 34 points, 17 coming in the third quarter, Russell Westbrook had 19 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists. Davis Bertans had 19 off the bench as the Wizards (13-18) won their seventh game in eight tries.
The problem: "I think it was a combination of shot selection and turnovers," Finch said. "And on offense, the ball just got sticky."
Changing coaches in midseason is never easy, especially in the rare case where the replacement comes from another team. Finch and his players are getting to know one another on the run. Finch is trying to get a feel for his players' strengths, beginning with streamlining the offense and, this week, working on the defense.
It was never going to be easy. Doing without two starters makes it harder. But so does a coaching change.
"It's an adjustment for everybody," Jarred Vanderbilt said. "But we feel like the process is still right. We're moving in the right direction. It's not the time to get down on ourselves. A couple losses. We'll just continue to play hard."
The Wolves defense, which had showed incremental improvement for a while, has allowed 400 points in the past three games.
The Wolves led 67-63 with 8:28 left in the third quarter before the Wizards finished the quarter on a 35-14 run to go up 17, a lead that grew to 19 early in the fourth quarter.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Wolves, whose biggest lead was eight points. Anthony Edwards had 21. Naz Reid scored 17 off the bench.
Trailing by 19 early in the fourth quarter, the Wolves rallied to within 10 with just under six minutes left, but Bertans hit a three-pointer. Then, after Towns missed, Garrison Mathews hit a three and the lead was back to 16.
Finch agreed his team is having a difficult time staying confident. "You see it in shotmaking," he said. "The game tightens up and we need to make a shot and maybe we don't. … We need to learn how to be a little more resilient right now."
The Wolves come right back with a game Sunday against Phoenix. But then they play just one game in the following 10 days, time Finch and the Wolves will need to get onto the same page.
"It's tough for both coach and for us," said Okogie of the change. Okogie had 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting in his return to the starting lineup. He also managed to keep Beal in check for much of the first half. "He wants us to trust each other, share the ball, share the wealth and play the right way overall. He wants to play fast, he wants to have more emphasis on the defensive end."
Okogie has already seen a lot in his two-plus seasons in the NBA. He knows how to deal with change.
"You start to be comfortable being uncomfortable,'' he said. "It makes you just continue to play with an edge, just continue to fight every day. But obviously, from the front office, they're trying to win, they're trying to make Minnesota a competing franchise. Whoever's here, we gotta do whatever we've gotta do to win games."
The Star Tribune did not travel for this game. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews before and/or after the game.