Dario Saric wanted so badly to play well against his former team Saturday night.
It just didn’t quite go his way. The Timberwolves forward started 0-for-5 from the floor as interim coach Ryan Saunders tried to console him on the bench early in a 118-109 loss to Philadelphia.
Then after the game, a group of 76ers fans who made their way to Minnesota greeted him and Robert Covington to show their appreciation for two players who were essential parts of the 76ers’ rebuilding process.
The flip side of Jimmy Butler’s trade demand was that it turned the lives of other players such as Saric upside down. And it has been an up-and-down season for Saric on the court for the Wolves. He has averaged fewer minutes since coming to Minnesota (30.5 to 23.5) and slightly fewer points per game (11.1 to 10.0), but Saric spoke glowingly of his time so far with the Wolves on Thursday and is proud to call it home.
“This is my new family, my new guys, my new boys, my new friends, my new teammates … ” Saric said. “I have new friends here, meet new guys, have new coaches and this is my life here and I like it here. I really love it here. It’s hard to compare the two [Philadelphia and Minneapolis], but I really like and really enjoy it here with this team, these coaches and this organization.”
Saric has an apartment now, one of his main concerns upon first moving here, and a spot in the starting lineup. That was something he had with Philadelphia as well. Saric has started the past 21 games for the Wolves and is shooting 41 percent from three-point range as a starter. He said he hopes Saunders is back as the coach next season and said Saunders has helped him become more comfortable on the court.
“It’s a little bit hard in the middle of the season. He couldn’t maybe change everything, you know?” Saric said. “I hope Ryan stays here, but I don’t know. … It’s not that I didn’t feel great with [former coach Tom Thibodeau], but Thibs is Thibs, you know? It was a little bit hard first when I came to fit somewhere. But as days go, Ryan was my individual [assistant coach] and really helped me, and I really appreciate that from him and the organization.”
Wiggins’ scoring binge
Andrew Wiggins had 24 points on 9-for-18 shooting Saturday, marking the sixth consecutive game he has scored 20 or more points, his longest such streak of the season. Saunders said Wiggins’ points are coming more naturally in the flow of the offense.
“I’d like to say it’s something different because it’s not like we’re force-feeding him the ball with things,” Saunders said. “He’s getting a lot of his scores in the open court in other ways. Early in his career, his first and second year … I was here for that, we were trying to, I guess you could say, force-feed him the ball. As you keep doing that, you’re going to have more opportunities to score. Here he’s getting it more within the system, within the offense and the flow.”
Towns’ struggles continue
Karl-Anthony Towns had another tough night getting going. He finished with 21 points on 8-for-17 shooting. Over his past three games, Towns is 19-for-51 from the floor (37 percent).
“I feel good,” he said. “I feel the same way it was when I was on the streak. It’s just not going in. I’m getting in-and-outs and everything. You’ve got to shoot yourself out of it.”