“Same old Wolves” ran across the minds of Minnesota Timberwolves fans as Brandon Ingram’s two free throws extended the New Orleans Pelicans’ lead to 16 in the first quarter of Thursday night’s game.
The casual Timberwolves fan probably picked up the remote and went channel surfing hoping to sniff the semblance of a competitive basketball game on a Thursday night chock-full of hoops both pro and college. Not a single soul would fault them.
It was the first game since the All-Star break and the Timberwolves appeared to pick up where they left on the verge of another blowout loss to continue the 9 game losing streak. The Chris Finch era was poised for its sixth straight loss since taking over for Ryan Saunders at the helm.
When the game ended, the casual fan probably picked up their phone to check the score.
Surely there was a doubletake there for most as they saw what could only be described as a godly intervention from above…. or a massive stat error that was going to cost someone their job.
Alas the basketball gods had appeared to have gotten bored of putting the Timberwolves on the losing end of these blowout games and had granted the Timberwolves 30 more points than the Pelicans.
Minnesota Timberwolves 135 New Orleans Pelicans 105 FINAL
The Minnesota Timberwolves had won a game for the first time since Valentines Day.
“It’s a great feeling (winning)”, Jaylen Nowell said following the statement win against the Pelicans. “Honestly, I forgot what this feeling felt like. So it’s great to find that out again.”
Anthony Edwards appeared to think so too.
“Damn, we got a win. It feel good hearing you say that”, Anthony Edwards said. “I mean, we were having fun. We trying to get used to it for real I feel like. Like I’m trying to get used to it. Whatever we did this game we need to grow and build on that”.
So, no. It wasn’t the “same old Wolves”.
This was different.
It’s been almost three weeks since the Timberwolves fired head coach Ryan Saunders following a 103–99 loss to the New York Knicks.
In one of the more unusual moves in NBA history, the Timberwolves opted to forgo promoting an in-house assistant coach to be their interim head coach for the remainder of the season and instead plucked Chris Finch off the Toronto Raptors’ coaching staff and signed him to a multi-year head coaching contract.
The news was controversial to say the least which was apparent when Portland Trailblazer’s guard Damian Lillard took to Twitter to voice his discontentment that the Timberwolves hadn’t promoted assistant coach David Vanterpool, a former Trailblazers assistant coach, to be their interim coach.
The morning sports talk shows were flooded with chyrons and talking heads discussing the Timberwolves controversial hiring of Finch over promoting Vanterpool and insinuating that the Timberwolves had no respect for diversity by not selecting more diverse candidates.
Timberwolves president Gerson Rosas knew what he was doing.
Rosas shut down the notion that the Timberwolves’ hiring sent any negative message about the organization’s views on hiring diversity.
“Anybody that knows me knows how important diversity is to me. And it’s a big part of who I am and what I’m about. Our staff and the diversity we have speaks for itself”, Rosas said at the introductory press conference for new head coach Chris Finch.
Rosas made it clear he wanted to look outside for a new lead voice for the team holding the worst record in the NBA.
Fortunately, the Wolves were able to move rather quickly in finding a new coach because they’d already been through the interview process with Chris Finch when the Wolves were interviewing head coaches in 2019.
At the time, interim head coach Ryan Saunders was named coach over Finch.
Now it’s the opposite as the Saunders’ era came to a crashing halt weeks ago.
This time it’s the Chris Finch era, a familiar face for Gerson Rosas as they date back to their Rio Grande Viper Days a decade ago.
In 2010, the pairing was able to lead the Vipers to a D-League Championship.
Now, they’ll look to see if that can translate to the NBA level with the team that holds the title for having the worst all-time winning percentage in major American pro sports history.
No wonder Anthony Edwards wants to build off that win.
The process won’t be easy no doubt.
However if the likes of Jaylen Nowell and Jaden McDaniels can build off their video game like shooting performances from Thursday night, the future will be bright.
And hey… if that happens, something tells me Wolves fans won’t be so tempted to change channels in the first quarter moving forward.