Following a 2-0 start, the Timberwolves have lost four straight games and are struggling to stay competitive without star center Karl-Anthony Towns available. As Chris Hine of The Star Tribune details, head coach Ryan Saunders attempted to jump-start the club on Sunday by shaking up his starting lineup, inserting Juan Hernangomez and Ed Davis in place of Ricky Rubio and Naz Reid.
According to Hine, the plan was to help Russell establish some pick-and-roll chemistry with Davis, his former teammate in Brooklyn, and to reduce Reid’s minutes against Nikola Jokic in the hopes of avoiding foul trouble.
Jarrett Culver, playing the three instead of the four in the new-look lineup, had his best game of the young season, and Davis led the team in rebounding, but the Timberwolves still lost by 15 points and Hernangomez’s early struggles continued. Still, Saunders said after the game that he saw some positive signs from the fifth-year power forward.
“I did think he had some good defensive possessions. I thought that helped us,” Saunders said of Hernangomez. “His size and length helped us a little bit even though we got beat on the glass, I thought he was able to get his hands on a few. He had some good looks, missed a couple that he’ll usually make around the basket. So for that reason, I see progress with Juancho as well.”
Here’s more from around the Northwest:
- Former Real Madrid star Facundo Campazzo had looked relatively invisible in his first five NBA games, but he showed on Sunday why the Nuggets brought him over from Spain this offseason, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “I thought this was the best version of Facundo Campazzo that you could imagine,” head coach Michael Malone said of the 29-year-old point guard, who had 15 points and three steals in Denver’s win over Minnesota.
- Before he signed with the Nuggets as a free agent in November, Isaiah Hartenstein drew interest from the Trail Blazers, Cavaliers, Pelicans, and Wizards, league sources tell Singer in a separate Denver Post story.
- Typically a slow starter, Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum has been excellent so far in 2020/21, having averaged 28.0 PPG with a .431 3PT% in six games. Jason Quick of The Athletic takes a look at what has fueled the hot start for McCollum, who said he’s motivated by wanting to secure a postseason berth without having to take part in the play-in tournament again.