It was a real treat to be seated at the scoring table tonight – right next to the Wolves’ bench – for the first game of the Tom Thibodeau era.
I got to see up close just how passionate he is. And, he was. In a preseason opener that was essentially meaningless, he worked the refs relentlessly – and, frankly, they deserved it – and exhorted his team constantly.
He got his first technical in almost a year and a half in the third quarter.
Afterward, he admitted being back on an NBA bench was something he’d missed.
“It was a lot of fun,’’ he said. “Actually, I enjoyed it. It was good to be back.’’
After a defensively-challenged first half, the Wolves out-scored the Heat 62-38 in the second half to win 109-100.
Here are some thoughts on the game:
--After allowing Miami free access to the rim in the first half – the Heat shot 57.5 percent – the Wolves clamped down in the second. Offensively, they finally got to the inside-out game Thibodeau prefers, with Towns scoring 13 of his 20 points in the third quarter.
--The Wolves had an 11-point edge on made free throws and a nine-rebound edge. They also hit on 10 of 23 three-pointers, with the second unit hitting seven of them.
--About that second unit: If Kris Dunn keeps progressing, this could be a good group. He has good floor vision – he had seven assists in 24 minutes played tonight. And with him driving and dishing there are going to be some open shots to be had. Tonight Nemanja Bjelica was 2-of-5 on three-pointers, Brandon Rush was 3-of-5 and both Dunn and Shabazz Muhammad were 1-for-2.
--Andrew Wiggins hit just three of 11 shots, but he scored 19 points thanks to hitting 13 of 16 free throws.
--Ricky Rubio had five assists and no turnovers in 23-plus minutes. He scored six points with all five assists and two of his three steals in the Wolves’ big third quarter.