Northwest Notes: Timberwolves, SGA, Jokic, Gordon, Butler

Following a disappointing 121-113 Friday night defeat to the lottery-bound Hornets, the Timberwolves came under fire from their own head coach and starting center, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

“It’s just a sense of urgency,” head coach Chris Finch said of what the Timberwolves are missing. “It’s just not there. We just talked about it – you can’t wait. It’s a 20-game season. We have nothing to wait for. You’ve got to go. We only have seven home games left and we’ve got a tough schedule. I think it’s just that urgency. We’ve got to have more urgency from the get-go. We’re not playing desperate enough.”

Minnesota big man Rudy Gobert had a solid individual night, scoring 17 points, pulling down 10 boards and swatting three shots, but was frustrated with his club’s effort.

“We have to decide who we want to be,” said Gobert. “We had a tough loss going into the break, and you would think we would come back with some urgency, but we started the game just like we finished the previous one.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • All-Star Thunder point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will miss his second straight game, the team’s home contest against the Kings Sunday, due to an abdominal strain and a sore right ankle, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The ankle isn’t considered a major issue. “I think if that was the only thing he was dealing with, he would probably try to go,” head coach Mark Daigneault said. “But the hip flexor thing (abdominal strain) is what we’re being careful with.”
  • The burgeoning bond between the Nuggets‘ starting frontcourt of MVP candidate Nikola Jokic and power forward Aaron Gordon is paying dividends on the hardwood, writes Kendra Andrews of ESPN. “The load that he can carry … he is a really strong guy,” Jokic said of Gordon. “He’s making sure he’s taking that advantage really seriously. It’s always an option for us … I know where to find him, how to throw him the ball. And he knows how to box his guys out to give me the space to throw him the ball.”
  • With no G League affiliate team of their own, the Trail Blazers announced (Twitter link) that they have transferred rookie center John Butler to the Kings’ Stockton NBAGL affiliate. The 7’1″ big man has played sparingly thus far while on his two-way contract with Portland, appearing in mop-up minutes in just nine games.
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