Many Timberwolves fans were probably asleep by the time Fox Sports North aired Tom Thibodeau’s press conference following the Timberwolves’ 113-107 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday evening at Staples Center.
Ordinarily, viewers wouldn’t have missed much.
But Thibodeau, who usually offers little in this setting, clearly did not like the justified line of questioning that came from veteran Star Tribune Wolves beat writer Jerry Zgoda.
Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns had 21 points, making 9-of-14 shots, in 39 minutes in the victory. This came after Towns had only seven points and six shots in a 95-92 loss on Monday night in Memphis. Towns’ shot total was a season-low – he made two field goals – and his point total only surpassed the two he scored in a Nov. 1 victory at New Orleans when he was in foul trouble.
Obviously, Thibodeau was pleased, at least as pleased as he can be, with the victory over the Clippers that improved the Wolves to 15-11.
“I want them to share the ball, make the right plays,” Thibodeau said. “If we call a play for somebody, or if it is transition, if you have a good shot and it’s your shot and you’re open, shoot it. If you’re guarded well, make a quick decision, move the ball. Don’t hold it, don’t dance with it. When we do that we’re a very good offensive team.
“ … I think it started with KAT. Everyone was upset with KAT last game. They didn’t think he shot enough, but he made the right plays. That’s what he’s supposed to do. Now he was more active today when he got rid of the ball. That’s important also. But just make the right plays.”
Thibodeau’s comment was interesting because of the fact Towns put up so few shots on Monday and didn’t appear to be incorporated into the offense like a star player should be. Wednesday was more like it and everyone recognized it.
That’s why as Thibodeau’s media session neared its end, Zgoda asked if Towns plays with more energy when he does get more touches. “He plays the same,” Thibodeau said before growing more testy. “I don’t understand what you’re saying. We run the same system every game so, I don’t know where you are going. What do you mean by that?”
Zgoda explained, saying his question pertained to when Towns gets the ball more. “He touches the ball a lot in every game,” Thibodeau snapped. “Yeah.”
The Fox Sports North feed, which was put on their Twitter account, cut out after that. It was enough to realize Zgoda had hit a nerve with Thibodeau.
So was Thibodeau trying to defend Towns? Was he trying to defend himself or his team for not getting Towns the ball enough? Was his star player upset with him and Thibodeau had no interest in revisiting the subject?
Whatever the case, it was an interesting and unnecessarily defensive response from Thibodeau.