Timberwolves 92, Hawks 84: Once is Luck, Twice is a Streak

The Minnesota Timberwolves have won two games in a row and three of their last four after defeating the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday night by the score of 92-84. Despite their penchant for the opposite (at least prior to the last four games or so), the Wolves’ defense was strong against Atlanta, which resulted in the Hawks shooting 41.5% from the field, including 26.9% (7/26) from three. The most encouraging defensive development of the night was that the Wolves did not allow the Hawks to score a single transition bucket, a major accomplishment for the NBA’s second-worst transition defense (1.18 PPP). Dennis Schröeder, the Hawks streaky point guard, led all scorers with 21 points on 21 shots and added seven assists. Power forward Paul Millsap chipped in 18 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists.

Millsap had arguably the best overall game for Atlanta. He was a consistent thorn in Karl-Anthony Towns’ side, playing stout defense and doing it all on offense for the Dwight Howard-less Hawks (the hulking center sat out the game due to back tightness). Millsap, on more than one occasion, completely took the Wolves’ defenders to school, bullying them down to the low block, only to hit a fall away floater or find an open teammate on the wing.

Ricky Rubio continued his streak of strong play on both sides of the ball, tallying 10 points, two rebounds, eight assists, and two steals (mumbles nearly inaudibly he also had six turnovers). Although Thibodeau once again handed the keys over to Andrew Wiggins down the stretch (more on that in a second), tonight added to the recently growing body of evidence that Rubio can function within the new Wolves’ offensive system. I remain dubious that this trend of function will continue for the rest of the season, but for right now, it’s fun to see glimpses of the Ricky Rubio of old.

Karl-Anthony Towns had himself a game. The nimble seven-footer snatched 18 rebounds, four of which were offensive, and added 17 points and five assists. The Wolves main focus coming out of halftime centered on working through Towns in the low-post. The Hawks began to double and triple team Towns’ after a few possessions, which allowed for the Wolves’ perimeter players to get open looks while also forcing a couple of errant passes and steals. He has gotten better from the beginning of the season, but Towns needs to further improve his decision making, specifically when he’s planted on the block. He tends to either bulldoze his way into a congested lane or force passes into crevices that are too filled with opposing appendages for the ball to travel through cleanly.

Zach LaVine and Gorgui Dieng also contributed positively, combining for 30 points, 13 rebounds, and three assists. LaVine continued his red-hot shooting from behind the arc, hitting on four of his eight attempts, and Dieng added three blocks.

Wiggins’ game was defined by streaks. He began the game going 5/6 from the field, tallying 10 points and four rebounds in the first quarter. However, his shot stalled over the next two and a half quarters, connecting on only one of his next nine shots. Wiggins proceeded to hit three of his final four shots to finish with 19 points, seven rebounds, and two assists. Once again, Wiggins was the primary initiator during the game’s final possessions, which produced mixed results.

An argument could be made that it would be better for the Wolves’ immediate interests to let Rubio be in control of the offense at the end of games, and that argument wouldn’t be wrong, per se, but by handing the team over to Wiggins on a consistent basis in crunch time, Tom Thibodeau is showing his hand for what his future plans are for both the young Canadian and the team; how Thibodeau is handling Wiggins is not unlike how Flip Saunders handled Zach LaVine during his rookie season. Giving Wiggins ample opportunities to learn how to facilitate his teammates and run the offense during crunch time will pay major dividends in the future (when the games matter more), no matter how hit or miss the results are presently.

Although wins are fun and an important part of developing, as Thibodeau states frequently, the most important aspect of this season is for the players and the team to get better every day. Allowing Wiggins to run the offense, often at times that may feel least opportune, is a major element in his personal development this season. Whether the plan is to develop Wiggins into a more athletic Jimmy Butler remains to be seen, but, regardless, having him learn how to control the team, find open teammates off the drive, improve his ball-handling and decision making, and create his own shot on the fly creates invaluable opportunities for actual in-game experience without much added pressure.

Notes:

  • Coach Tom Thibodeau only played 8 players tonight, with Cole Aldrich being the most surprising DNP-CD. The Wolves’ lack of bench minutes and production will be interesting to monitor as the season continues to progress.
  • Speaking of the bench: They struggled tonight. Bjelica, Muhammad, and Dunn combined for 16 points on 6/21 shooting (3/11 from 3) and struggled to defend consistently. The Wolves are going to need better games from the bench if they want to keep this winning trend going.
  • Minnesota’s own Mike Muscala had himself a game. The stretch big scored 16 points on 6/9 shooting, including 3/3 from deep, and added four rebounds in 30 minutes of play.
  • The Wolves were 13/14 from the free throw line, meaning they have connected on 37 of their last 39 attempts from the charity stripe over the past two games.
  • The Wolves are back in action Friday night against the Sacramento Kings. Tip is set for 7 p.m. central.
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19 Responsesso far.

  1. pyrrol says:

    Confession: I’m a fan of the old school ‘Pac-man’ Hawks logo, and the new school red-florescent yellow-white color scheme. It’s ridiculous, but I can no longer deny that I like it.

    A lot of critics out there blasted Thibs for playing his starters too many minutes even before he coached a minute of regular season ball in MN. I’ve been happy to sit back and not assume he’s going to commit the same sins he did in Chicago. But even I’m starting to worry about it. Aldrich DNP? We’ve got to find a way to cut some of these starter minutes a bit and still compete.

    Which is sort of a segway into my next point, if you squint. If Thibs isn’t that worried about winning games now, more concerned with taking care of some developmental things, why does he ride the starter minutes this hard? Why did he finally relent and let Rubio (mainly) run the offense? Why only give ‘point Wiggins’ 2-4 possessions at the end of games if it’s such a great teaching tool? I’m getting a bit of cognitive dissonance here.

    I personally think this ‘development’ stuff is lame. Guys learn by playing in real, earned situations. Not by playing a position they won’t later in their career (Zach at PG) or by artificially shifting gears in the offense just to let one guy get a few looks behind the wheel at the end of every game (Wiggins). I have serious doubts ‘point Wiggins’ is ever going to be a good look for playoff level Wolves teams. If that’s true (and who knows if it is) then this could be just a way to teach Wiggins how to be a better team basketball player on offense. Seeing as how he doesn’t really fit the profile of a LeBron style point forward (James always has a knack for passing an a tendency to defer) it seems like a pretty clunky way to teach a talented guy on your team skills he probably should have picked up more by now. I’m not sure this is common strategy among good NBA coaches. To me it continues to be a bad look for Thibs, which is to say, it isn’t that harmful yet because it’s such a small scale thing, and Rubio has the keys to run normal offense most of the time, but the optics aren’t good.

    Related to these other ‘developmental’ things is Dunn. He’s really not that good. It’s hard to remember at times how not good he is because he’s got some flashes going. I heard a few people rant earlier in the season that Dunn isn’t a PG, which is funny. But there is sense in the tea leaves of this silly fan overreaction. For a guy touted as a pretty NBA ready PG on D and as a passer, Dunn has proven not at all good at PG skills and overrated on D. He barely plays like a PG. Tonight he had 6 points (2-5) which is nice, but no assists, 1 rebound, no steals in 14 minutes. And this is a pattern. The offense just stalled tonight whenever Rubio was not out there, because Dunn was. If Jones played those minutes, or even some of them, the offense wouldn’t go into such dangerous hibernation. Tonight it was offset by some decent team D, unexplained Hawks slop and some major Hawks droughts at helpful times for us. The point of this isn’t to hate on Dunn, but to make a case that he’s not earning these minutes but is playing them to develop. But that assumes he’s going to be a better player than the likes of Jones someday or a major contributor on a playoff team. I’m not confident of either of these at this point. It seems like a big gamble to give him this many minutes based on a hazy hopes for the future, all founded on pretty raw physical potential. Some have suggested he get big D league minutes for a while, and that may be unrealistic, but not a half bad idea. Don’t see it happening, but can have fantasies.

    It is simply my opinion that strategically some of these things are mistakes or ‘growing pains’ for Thibs. I’m not convinced he can step back, clear his head, and take a second look at some of his decisions and adjust. He’s too busy screaming, too married to the game. I love his smarts and obsession, but this ability to step back, breath and take a long look at how things are playing out and why is an essential ability for a good coach. I worry that Thibs doesn’t have enough of this. But this is all just one fan’s speculation. From a more brain stem kind of fan place, Thibs made the first part of the season when Rubio just dumped the ball off and stood in the corner pretty miserable for fans. We didn’t play well, dropped games we should have won, and amassed a really bad record, all while being not nearly as fun to watch as we could have been. Recent games have shown how things look without the Ricky dump strategy–lots more fun and hopeful things. So… from a fan perspective, that happened.

    That said, Thibs has relented and adjusted some. Our D is showing some good signs. This was a good win and we took advantage of what was given (a small opposing lineup) very well. Things are looking up, and I hope things stay this way.

    • Jello says:

      I have to disagree with largely everything you wrote. Playing out of position does not facilitate winning, correct, but it does certainly facilitate growth and development. I can tell you from personal experience. I played LB for my first three years of football after which I switched to CB. The tackling and block shedding that was necessary when I played LB translated to CB and made it very difficult for opposing teams to run the ball to my side since I could combine with the line backers and properly fill/shed/engage. I of course still learned CB fundamentals, it wasn’t as if not playing CB for those years hurt me because it actually allowed me to have a greater understanding of the defense and a larger skill set. This may be a football example, but I think it applies to all sports. The more reps you take doing things, the more positions you understand, the greater your knowledge and comfort level becomes. You know what the other players are doing, why they’re doing it, and you can take less time thinking and be quicker to simply react to the opposition. Yes, you could potentially learn all this by simply playing the same position for a long period and studying film and being a good player, but not everyone has the ability or patience to absorb what they should and focus on the other players roles within the team. I think playing other positions also speeds up the process and makes the development period faster.

      I don’t have a problem with playing three 21 year olds a lot. They need the time. Playing Wiggins at point-forward for just a few possessions can still help him grow. He not only ran the possessions in game, but you can bet him and Thibs will go over the film on those plays multiple times. He will be getting plenty of mental reps on a play he actually ran and can view it from a different point of view to truly absorb and understand why what he did worked or didn’t work. It’s actually encouraging that Thibs reduced his reps, it shows that Wiggins is learning and can implement what Thibs wants in just a couple of plays. He doesn’t need a large sample to learn from each game anymore which shows he’s coming along.

      • pyrrol says:

        If playing young NBA guys out of position is so great for development, why don’t you see it all the time? Why do great coaches like Pop never do it? Why aren’t all rookies required to play at least a month out of position during the regular season by their coach? Maybe because it is a silly idea that is not widely accepted by quality NBA coaches.

        • Jello says:

          A lot of coaches are under pressure to win now. Flip and Thibs were both GM and Coach. Not winning doesn’t hurt them. Pop doesn’t have to play guys out of position, but I don’t think you can deny he started giving Kawhi primary ball handling responsibilities before he was proficient at it. He definitely let him work on it to become a more capable facilitator in order to make him a more rounded player and make the team more difficult to defend.

          • enai says:

            Exactly, teams like the Spurs have the luxury of playing their already-good players to get wins, while their young players marinade on the bench for the future. The Wolves don’t have the luxury of having Wiggins et al marinade on the bench in order to start in a few years, they need to be the starters NOW. And one way to fast forward someone’s development, in basketball or anywhere else, is to challenge them and force them to grow/adapt… like putting the ball in Wiggins/Lavine’s hands and forcing them to learn how to make decisions.

          • pyrrol says:

            You didn’t answer my question. Why don’t other coaches do this all the time if it’s such a great idea?

            Pop doesn’t have to play guys out of position because they’re always so good, huh? Guess what, neither do we! There is no reason to play anyone out of position. And we’re not right now. We just select a few end of game possessions a night to have Wiggins dribble up from mid court and slow our offense to a crawl. But he’s still our SF. As for Kawhi… Uh, he seemed to be asked to do things he was capable of at the time he was capable of them, not learn skills on the fly. And, I like a lot of what Wiggins has to offer but there is no comp between Leonard’s silky development and Wiggins’ awkward development as a total NBA player thus far.

          • Jello says:

            Pyrrol, you need to calm down. This isn’t any sort of attack on you. Condescension doesn’t make any conversation better. My response to your questions was twofold; first other coaches do not have the luxury of time (also stated by enai). As you could see in the one season with Sam as coach he ran the offense through Rubio because it is the best way for the team to get wins currently. Sam needed to get wins to keep a job, as do basically all other coaches in the league. Flip and now Thibs can afford to use games as a learning tool to provide future benefit rather than trying to win every game now. There is an article on this website that covers this as well. I personally agree with Thibs and Flip, especially if Rubio is not in the teams plans. I can completely understand you thinking Thibs should value Rubio more, but the thing is Rubio does not need the reps and Wiggins does. I’d say that Rubio running the offense is already as good as it’s going to get and the team is not going to develop anything more if that’s all we do. I don’t think this team can be a title contender that way. We need a second option for when defenses focus on shutting that down or Rubio gets in foul trouble.

            Second, Pop can develop his players slowly while still making the playoffs and having a realistic shot at the title. Take a look at Kawhi’s usage rate in the playoffs vs the regular season. In his first two years Kawhi had a higher usage rate by a bit over one percent in the regular season, showing Pop let Kawhi be slightly more involved in games when it wasn’t as important. Now the past two seasons Kawhi is used in the playoffs almost three percent more in the playoffs than he is in the regular season, showing that when it matters most Pop is using his best offensive sets. He could just keep his offense the same in the regular season and the playoffs since that would theoretically give him the best chance to win every game, but he doesn’t. He runs the offense differently in the regular season for a number of factors. One of which is developing new skills for later use. You also see it all the time where coaches of two playoff rivals intentionally run an offense different from their primary offensive sets so the opposition isn’t able to actively game plan and practice against it. Pop doesn’t just throw these games away, though, he is of course trying new schemes and getting players into different positions to let them learn and to see for himself what might be a good addition to the repertoire. To sum up this point, better teams can be more subtle in how they play their players “out of position”. It’s still happening, but at a slower pace. These teams don’t have to sacrifice wins so they do it when it’s convenient.

            Essentially, bad teams with coaches on the hot seat can’t afford to develop players in this way as it sacrifices wins and job security. Good coaches with good teams polish their team and make sure they can get a good seed while slowing bringing players along and learning new skill sets (these teams also often have great veteran leadership where they aren’t asked to be the best player immediately and can learn from a player better than them – of which the wolves have none). You don’t have to agree, I’m just letting you know my opinion and hopefully easing some anxiety you have over Thibs coaching style.

          • Passerby says:

            Love it, Jello. A good write up that I absolutely agree with!

          • pyrrol says:

            Thanks for the info Jello! I’m as calm as you are. Thanks for taking the time to explain your points so well. Essentially, they are all things I’ve heard before and ways to explain away our poor start as an investment in the future. It’s at best hypothetical, at worst blindly excusing poor use of team resources for some exaggerated or imagined master developmental plan. I’m probably in the minority in that I look at this developmental argument with extreme skepticism at this point. I flat out think point Lavine was a tooth fairy. As for point Wiggins, it’s a smaller, less harmful project and has better developmental possibilities but am not yet a believer. We’ll see. I’m sure we will improve as time goes on, but I’m not convinced yet that Thibs is a good fit here. It’s early, so who knows. As I stated before, I was really excited about Thibs coming here and welcomed him with open arms, but he’s done a lot to lose my (and some other fans’) confidence. It’s only the quarter mark, but I’m no longer in turning a blind eye to things Thibs is doing. It ended up being a short honeymoon and it is over for me. A simple way to look as it is to compare Mitchell last year to the way the team looks now. Sam was almost universally panned as a mediocre to not good coach last season (I agree) and Thibs has not improved much on that in a quarter season. Even if he has all sorts of unhurried developmental schemes he’s trying out in game for the future, that doesn’t explain away all of this. The point of basketball is to win, so that should be the number one concern with a coach in Sam or Tom’s position. I think it is bit of a red flag. A touted coach should be able to handle an improved record and developmental projects right away, and they aren’t mutually exclusive. Here’s to hoping I’m wrong. I’d love nothing more than to be totally wrong and quickly flourish under Thibs. I may very well be, but I don’t think I need to be shamed out of skepticism after what we’ve had to watch so far this season. I think the burden is on the shamers. But most folks side with the big name. Maybe I should too. It’s a good bet and doesn’t make waves.

          • Jello says:

            I understand that point of view. It is definitely frustrating to watch the Wolves lose year after year. I think it’ll work out, but like you said it’s not a guarantee. We will just have to wait and see but here’s to hoping.

  2. Tom says:

    I enjoy a start to a winning streak as well as the next guy, but what I saw last night was not great defense or offense by either team and the wolves luckily got a win that would have been more difficult with Howard playing. This was a case of a close game being called a good or entertaining game.

    KAT had another chance for a monster game in the low block, being guarded by smaller or less talented players. He has success down there, but is still thinking how to attack, how to get position lower and many of the things great big men do naturally. His attempts to pass to cutters in the lane from the high post was frustrating, with multiple turnovers not stopping him from trying again. He floats out to the high post instead of demanding the ball in the low block and it would be awesome to see him pass out and then reset versus dribbling and settling for a crazy fadeaway.

    The bench was scary last night, due to who got to play and who didn’t. Is Rush in the doghouse that bad that he couldnt help space the floor as well as Belly and Baz attempted last night? Once again, Tyus Jones is a spectator even when Schroeder was taking a break and Dunn wasn’t offering much. It’s tough to get a young bench going when they sit for games at a time and not have a clue how ,when or if they are getting minutes each night.

    I love Ricky, and I’m glad Thibs is playing him significant minutes, but he almost refuses to go to the basket, even when he has a lane. I think that is why Wiggins gets the ball in crunch time. He is getting better at passing out to an open guy, but will take it to the rim if left open. Zack will take it, but still is poor at passing out to an open player.

    Both teams were terrible protecting possessions last night. I kept thinking, what would the Larry Bird Celtics or Showtime Lakers do to these two teams? Still very much a work in progress with a long ways to go. Hopefully a better game against the Kings.

  3. JV Gibbons says:

    I don’t understand how anyone could question the “point Wiggins” minutes especially down the stretch of games. 1- as good as Ricky is he’s just as apt to turn the ball over as anyone else (6 tonight) and more importantly 2- Rubio is a complete non threat offensively, so when he runs a pick and roll, especially late in a game, defenders will simply go under the screen and sag off. At least with Wiggins, they treat him like he’s a threat to score which opens up the passing lanes. Lavine doesn’t look for those passes off the pnr as well as Wiggs does and even more important for the team, as the best 3 point shooter, you want Zach off the ball to create spacing and actually knock down shots when the pass comes. Wiggs wouldn’t be as good in that role. They ran 5 “point Wiggins” possessions down the stretch and got a great shot on 4 of them, the other was a Wiggs travel which was his only turnover of the game. This is formula to end games folks: strong d, and on offense, pick and roll between your best 2 players with your best 3 point guy spacing off ball. There will be bumps in the road, but this is a great formula to close out games.

    P.S. It is great to see Rubio playing better overall. He doesn’t have the ball in his hands 100% of the time, but as we’ve seen, he can clearly still produce and help the team.

    • gjk says:

      I have a problem with how much this theory has become thought of as truth when it’s not. A team’s scouting report on him is the same the whole game. They may play with more focus at the end, but he still has 6 assists in clutch time (4th quarter/OT, score within 5 points) while Wiggins has 1. Wiggins has 2 turnovers in that same time frame to Rubio’s 1 (which was him having his heel on the sideline while attempting a 3). I have no problem with them mixing it up, but his passing allows him to find open guys even if the defense slacks off, and it always has. Could it become a problem during a playoff series? Yeah, but let’s not pretend that same defense wouldn’t figure out a way to throttle Point Wiggins just as easily.

      • pyrrol says:

        Thanks for some sanity on this issue, gjk. Obviously, point Wiggins would be just as easy to figure out in scouting, now and for the foreseeable future. More easy than a normal ball movement offense led by a PG. The big argument for the point wiggins seems to be ‘when we’re a playoff team we can’t have Rubio handling the ball in crunch time. We need a scorer to do that!’ Boy, I for one am a little more worried about stuff like getting to .500, making the first round, not destroying our fan base forever, not blowing the core apart because we don’t develop them right and sell it off in pieces. I’ll worry about a deep playoff run later. But even if Thibs is grooming Wiggins for a future playoff team role years in the future, I just don’t think point Wiggins is ever going to be a good idea. At the end of game, now, I’d rather have Towns in the post, or LaVine making his own shot. Point Wiggins thus far has looked comically horrible. It has not been effective. And of course Rubio doesn’t need the ball in his hands 100% of the time. We can draw up sets that don’t involve him much for variety. But I can’t think of a reason to have Wiggins dribble from mid court (and stop awkwardly at the top of the key), other than to induce sweat. If Pt Wiggins is a great teaching tool why not sprinkle it around here and there in different situations? Why just do it 2-4 possessions in crunch time until it looks bad and we might lose? I’m not sure why Wiggins can’t get these skills from all the times he gets the ball throughout the game on offense in many different situations. His decision making and passing need to improve. We seemed to stop iso-ing him so much because he couldn’t learn how to pass out well, nor what a good shot and a bad shot is (and also maybe because it is *hitty offense). In this game he made several bad shots that aren’t good long term bets to take a lot. I’m not seeing a lot of learning, and maybe a bit of regression since early from Wiggins. Point Wiggins is a current eyesore. Given the tiny volume it is used and how it is always late, I find myself confused how it’s helping us win or significantly develop any Wiggins skills we should already be seeing. All this isn’t to sound like a Grinch. At the moment it’s a minor problem. Overall, though this season has been rougher than most expected and some of that is on Thibs as well as the players.

  4. sportsbygreg says:

    Nice write up. Great posts by the other guys. I’m proud of the guys for winning three out of four and 2 in a row… not crazy about the continued turnovers at the most inopportune times and lack of rim protection. But I have been impressed with energy and hustle of late. Yes, Rubio is playing better, BUT I still think he’s very expendable because of the presence of Tyus Jones. He’s (Rubio) absolutely no threat to shoot the ball or finish at the rim, and makes a lot of untimely dumb turnovers (that gets swept under the rug). Yeah, he sets up his teammates nicely at times, but so can Tyus. As unpopular to Wolves fans as it may sound, I would still trade him straight up for Nerlens Noel right now, and insert Tyus Jones as the starting point guard. We need another young athletic 4 or 5 in the rotation who can rebound and PROTECT THE RIM. Also, Thibs needs to trust and play guys more off the bench. He’s going to run his starters into the ground. I’m all for playing Payne some minutes (no I’m not on drugs).

  5. gjk says:

    Bad shooting and lots of turnovers on the road is usually a recipe for a blowout, so it was good to see them take advantage of the Hawks’ lack of size and grind out a win. It helped that the Hawks took so many 3s despite being terrible at making them this season.

    The answer for why Aldrich didn’t play is simple: the Hawks played no centers in last night’s game. He doesn’t offer anything worth having him on the floor for if he has to guard 6-7 guys who are quick PFs. Putting him in the corner to guard Muscala isn’t a good use of him, either. Arguably, they could’ve given more of his minutes to Bjelly instead of playing Dieng over 39 and Towns over 37, but that was the correct move.

    One thing I always wonder about defensively is why more teams aren’t as active with their hands as the Spurs and Warriors are. Pop’s defensive system has always included fostering good defensive ball skills. The Hawks showed last night that good technique in going after the ball can lead to a lot of forced turnovers. If a defender is in good position and might not be able to vertically challenge the shot, they need to go for those types of steals, especially if it’s near the rim where a shooting foul is a better result than a made basket.

  6. Tom says:

    It is amazing how fine a line the wolves walk each night. How many games this year would they have won if they shot FT like they have the last couple of games? How many games would they have won if the opposing team shot 3’s just a little more like their averages and not in the 40-50% range that has happened to the wolves this year? How many games would they win if the bench was a solid middle to upper scoring offense or a more shut down defensive group?

    This team is young and not deep, so Thibs plays the starters a lot, because his best chance to win is when the starters play a lot. I think he started out giving these bench guys a chance, but his patience is razor thin to begin with and they gave him no reason to be more patient. I hope that they are working the phones to get some other talent in here that could give the starters a breather once in a while. I hope that the new CBA hasn’t hurt our wolves chances to add a veteran or two next year.

    • pyrrol says:

      But I thought this was a developmental year now? That explains some otherwise confusing coaching decisions, right? I see the reasons (if trying to win is our only priority) to play the starters a lot. And to gjk’s point, I guess Aldrich and Muscala wouldn’t be the best match up. But I’m not sure that playing 8 guys is a good idea, ever, unless we have injuries. We might have to cut back on the starter minutes at some point to maintain energy and health. It’s starting to be an actual concern. I don’t see a fix on the horizon unless Thibs is willing to play Jones, which would liven up our bench enough that several of them could be left out there more minutes. I have no hope for this solution even being attempted.

  7. A says:

    Aldrich didn’t play, because of situational matchups. The Hawks without Howard plays small and more perimeter-oriented. Thus, Aldrich didn’t play. If Howard played, Aldrich would have gotten minutes. Expect Aldrich back in the rotation against the Kings and their bigs tomorrow.

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