The last time the Timberwolves came to New Orleans, young star Karl-Anthony Towns found early foul trouble and finished with only two points and five rebounds during a victory there nearly a month ago.
On Wednesday, he again sat because of foul trouble all night, eventually being whistled five times and playing only 21 minutes. But at least he played on after Pelicans star Anthony Davis was ejected during the second quarter after playing only 18.
Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said after Tuesday’s home loss to Washington that he wanted to watch the game film and decide why Towns isn’t getting calls at the other end of the floor.
“It seems like a guy who goes to the basket as much as he does should get at least a couple of calls,” Thibodeau said.
Towns didn’t bite when asked about not getting foul calls when the ball is in his hands. “No comment by me,” he said. “I’m not getting into that conversation. We’ve just got to play through anything.”
Thibodeau wants Towns to play on without getting distracted and complaining to the referees. On Wednesday, three of his five fouls were charging calls and another was for setting an illegal screen.
“I don’t want him to overthink it,” Thibodeau said. “He had a couple calls [Tuesday] go the other way against him. Don’t get wrapped up in it. Just play — play the way he’s capable of playing. Sometimes you get the benefit of the call. Sometimes you don’t. I think he’s a little frustrated from times he does drive to the basket. He’s not getting calls. He can’t worry about that. He has to play.”
Bjelica set to return
Starting point guard Jeff Teague and backup forward Nemanja Bjelica each missed his third consecutive game Wednesday, but Bjelica said he intends to play Friday at Oklahoma City.
Tyus Jones started his third consecutive game for Teague, who still has Achilles’ tendon soreness. Bjelica worked out Wednesday morning and intended to play that night, but experienced soreness afterward and delayed his return for at least one more game.
“It’s a little bit annoying, but I think I will be ready for next game,” Bjelica said. “I feel much better. I’m doing everything I can to get back on the court as soon as possible.”
Thibodeau dropped struggling forward Shabazz Muhammad from his rotation Wednesday, mixing starters in with reserves Jamal Crawford and Gorgui Dieng.
Muhammad was arguably the Wolves’ best player in training camp, but played little and went scoreless the past two games before Wednesday. He has scored in double digits twice this season.
“Players go through things, ups and downs,” Thibodeau said. “You’ve got to play your way through it. Sometimes it’s not going your way. So put the extra time in, get your rhythm back. It’s all part of it. If you’re not shooting well, do other things that can help the team win.”
The Wolves still have two open roster spots: One on their 15-man big-league roster and one of two-way slots that allows players to move to and from the G League. NBA veterans Brandon Rush, Gerald Green and Randy Foye remain unsigned.
Asked if they’re considering adding a player to give them more depth, Thibodeau paused and said, “Yeah, we’re looking at a lot of things right now.”
Veteran point guard Rajon Rondo started for the Pelicans Wednesday after he missed the two teams’ first game against each other almost a month ago. Thibodeau coached Rondo when both were in Boston.
“It’s good having him out there,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “We know the impact he can have on the game if you just go back and look at the playoffs [with Chicago] last year.”