TORONTO – While he tries to make the Wolves a “48-minute team,” coach Tom Thibodeau remains a 48-minute coach.
Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan’s ears tell him so.
DeRozan played on 2014 U.S. World Cup and 2016 U.S. Olympic teams that Thibodeau helped coach and he’s prepared for that sound that just doesn’t stop, whether he’s playing for Team USA and Thibodeau in summertime or against him, as DeRozan did Thursday night at Air Canada Centre.
“You hear his raspy voice,” DeRozan said before Thursday’s game. “He was loud. He’ll probably be a lot louder tonight. You definitely know that voice. You heard it the whole game. You’ve got to be prepared to hear it, but you have to let it pass you.”
An assistant to Team USA’s Mike Krzyzewski, Thibodeau coached DeRozan and Toronto mate Kyle Lowry last summer in Brazil. The two guards received their Olympic team rings in a pregame presentation Thursday.
“They were terrific to be around,” Thibodeau said, “and they were a big part of that team winning the gold. What struck me was how hard they worked and their chemistry together. With our second unit, they lifted us throughout the entire Olympic experience. They made big plays. They made tough plays. They played to win. They were so unselfish on both sides of the ball.
“With Kyle running the team great, making hustle plays and DeMar flying up the floor, you could tell they knew how to read each other really, really well.”
DeRozan said he admired Thibodeau’s guidance, as well.
“It’s great when you have a head coach [as an assistant] like that,” DeRozan said. “He’s not going to let one single detail slide. You know that when you’re going against Thibs, you definitely have to bring your ‘A’ game.”
Back in the 905
Thursday’s game was Wolves forward Andrew Wiggins’ annual return to Toronto, his hometown.
He drew a media throng at the Wolves’ morning shoot-around and told Canadian reporters that he’s still on board to play for Canada’s national team, even though he declined to play last summer for a team that just missed qualifying for the Olympics.
“Just working on my own game, expanding my game,” Wiggins said, explaining his absence, “so I can come into this season and do the things I’m doing now.”
Sam he am
Former Wolves coach Sam Mitchell exchanged fist bumps and hugs with Wiggins and Nemanja Bjelica, among others. He worked Thursday’s game as a pre- and postgame analyst for TSN, Canada’s national-sports network. Mitchell has returned to radio and television work after he served as the Wolves interim coach last season.
• Bypassed by the Wolves twice in the 2009 draft, DeRozan was honored early in the game for surpassing 10,000 career points Monday and for a franchise-record 530 games started.
• Wolves assistant coach Ed Pinckney was an original Raptors player, back in their inaugural 1995-96 season. Assistant coach Rick Brunson once played for the Raptors, too, and Casey coached the Wolves a decade ago.