SAN ANTONIO – It’s a fact of life. You can’t learn from your mistakes until you make them.
For Zach LaVine, Friday’s overtime loss to the Rockets was a prime example. LaVine, the Wolves’ rookie guard, is playing extended minutes with Ricky Rubio hurt and Mo Williams’ back ailing. Williams did not make the trip to San Antonio.
Friday, playing nearly 35 minutes, LaVine scored 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting, had six rebounds and four assists. But, late in the game, there were some mistakes. Coach Flip Saunders though t LaVine forced some shots late in regulation. And, in the overtime, LaVine allowed Nick Johnson a clear path for the game-winning hoop.
“He hasn’t been in that situation,” Saunders said. “And that’s understandable. Defensively, from Zach’s situation, the thing we harp on him every day, and that we scream at him, explain to him, show him on film, he ended up making the same mistake — just being up too high, and standing up. He tried to close and the guy had a straight line drive. But you almost need something like that to happen in a game to have a reference point.’’
“You gain a lot of experience about what not to do down the stretch,” LaVine said. “It was a tough one, that loss. But we have to keep battling.’’
The interesting thing about LaVine is how he’ll admit to a mistake but then, just minutes later, speak with a confidence that belies both his age and experience: “Every night I go out with the same mentality,” he said. “I go out and I play with confidence. Have no fear.’’
But don’t be afraid to learn.
“You have to go through it,” he said. “You have someone talk to you about Game 6 of the finals, and you can imagine what it’s like. But if you ain’t been there, you don’t know what’s going on.’’
Saunders wasn’t thrilled with the idea of having to fly 2½ hours south for a one-game road trip to finish off a back-to-back anyway. But what happened after Friday’s game only made it worse. The team was on the charter around 11 p.m. But mechanical issues kept the plane on the tarmac until well past 2 a.m. The team didn’t get into its hotel until after 5 a.m.
When it rains it pours for the Wolves, who have had to deal with injury issues all season. Does Flip feel like he’s offended someone?
“Well, we’ve felt like that a lot this year,” he said.
Wolves rookie Glenn Robinson hear it from the whole coaching staff and a few of his teammates after his old school, Michigan, dropped a home game to the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
“I still have nothing but support for them,” he said of the Wolverines. “There is no doubt in my mind they’ll be good.’’
Robinson hasn’t gotten much playing time, even with all the injuries the Wolves have incurred. Saunders said he would still like to get Robinson some playing time in the Development League, but he has to keep him on the roster now in case of further injuries.
But the plan is, once the roster gets healthier, to give Robinson some D-League time. And he’s OK with that.
“I’m willing to do whatever it takes to learn and develop,” he said.
• Assistant coach Sam Mitchell also missed the trip, because of a sore back.
• Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on the injury-related difficulties Saunders has faced: “His situation is beyond adversity. I don’t know what the word would be, what they’ve been through. … It’s an impossible situation. But they keep playing.”