Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels missed Sunday’s game against Portland after he was placed in health and safety protocols.
McDaniels played Saturday against Portland. The rookie forward joins point guard Jordan McLaughlin in health and safety protocols, leaving Minnesota with 10 healthy bodies until either one returns from protocols, or Jarrett Culver returns from the toe injury that’s sidelined him since the all-star break.
FOULS? NO TROUBLE
The general rule of thumb seems to be that if a player collects his second foul call almost any time in the first half, the coach pulls said player from the game. The same can be said for a player getting his fourth foul in the third quarter.
Timberwolves coach Chris Finch doesn’t play by those rules.
“Generally I’m not taking a guy out with 2 fouls in the first half, for sure,” Finch said. “The reality is you either play your best players and let them foul out or you foul them out yourself by sitting them. And I want them in the game, and if they happen to foul out at the end, we give ourselves a chance, that’s far better than letting the game slip away from you while they’re sitting on the bench and you know you don’t have a chance to have them foul out.”
Notably included in Saturday’s closing lineup was Timberwolves second-year guard Jaylen Nowell. It was the first time in his NBA career that Nowell was tabbed to try to help Minnesota win a close game late.
“The game boiled down to small ball, really,” Finch said. “They were playing super small and of course we had KAT on the floor, and so I wanted to create as much spacing around KAT against their double, because that’s the only thing they could do, and I felt matchup wise defensively, there was a matchup out there.”
But Finch also said Nowell — who’s been a major spark for the team coming out of the all-star break — has “earned” the opportunity.
“We don’t necessarily have like a finishing lineup right now, but the guys that play well and what the game dictates is going to determine who played,” Finch said. “I thought he played two great games for us and I like his confidence.”
Nowell said it was “great” to get to play in crunch time. His biggest focus was to “make sure that I didn’t do anything dumb.”
There was one apparent error. Trailing by six the final 30 seconds of the game, Minnesota ran a play that got Nowell a decent look at a corner triple, but Nowell passed it up and instead drove to the rim. In that spot, the Wolves really would have preferred the 3-point attempt.
“I should’ve just shot the three at the end,” Nowell said. “But that’s something that it’s a learning experience. Finally I learned. Ricky came up to me at the end of the game and explained to me in that situation we wanted the three, boom, boom. The next situation, I definitely learned from this one and the next situation I will execute way better.”
The NBA’s Last 2 Minutes report said Sunday that Anthony Edwards was fouled with 90 seconds to play in Minnesota’s loss Saturday. The foul wasn’t called, and after video review, it was determined the ball went off Edwards and was awarded to Portland.