Northwest Notes: Wolves, Jokic, Murray, George, Giddey

The battle for control among Timberwolves‘ ownership isn’t affecting the team’s performance, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. While majority owner Glen Taylor and minority owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez fight things out in the media and probably in the court system, Minnesota picked up one of its biggest wins of the season Friday night at Denver. The Wolves are now tied with Oklahoma City for the top spot in the West with just nine games remaining.

“I don’t think it affects the players as much,” Mike Conley said of the ownership situation. “Maybe it affects the image of the team, the aura of the team around a little bit. But as far as the players are concerned, I think we just are like, ‘Damn, that’s crazy.’ Then we go back to watching film and worrying about (Nikola) Jokic, Jamal Murray and (Michael) Porter and those guys. It’s a unique situation and it’s something we don’t have any control over. We’re trying to do our job.”

Rudy Gobert didn’t mention Taylor, Lore or Rodriguez by name, but he said ownership in general has improved since he was traded to Minnesota nearly two years ago, creating a better atmosphere for the players.

“Whether it’s nutrition, recovery, facility, family room, how our family is being treated — it’s a lot of things,” Gobert said. “This organization is becoming really a top-notch organization and I think it’s come a long way.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets may need to prioritize health over chasing the No. 1 seed, contends Bennett Durando of The Denver Post. Jokic played with his right wrist taped Friday night, and Durando observes that it was clearly bothering him even though he finished with 32 points and 10 rebounds. “His wrist has been giving him a lot of trouble,” coach Michael Malone said. “But as we know, Nikola plays through things that most guys won’t.” Murray missed his fourth straight game with an ankle injury, but Malone said he’s expected to return before the start of the playoffs.
  • The Jazz dropped their eighth straight game Friday night as they deal with the realities of starting three rookies, notes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. Taylor Hendricks, Keyonte George and Brice Sensabaugh are struggling with efficiency as they get accustomed to playing big minutes at the NBA level, but the organization is committed to all three players, with coach Will Hardy complimenting George on his mental approach to the game. “Keyonte is really, really smart. He’s really, really smart in general, and that applies to basketball,” Hardy said. “He watches a lot on his own, which is very rare these days. He’s at home watching League Pass, watching games. So with that he has pretty quick recognition of things. He has an ability to learn things fast. He has really good recall. He can remember plays that we ran three weeks ago that we haven’t scripted in a while.”
  • Thunder swingman Josh Giddey said he used to hate it when teams dared him to shoot from the outside, but he’s learned to use it as a weapon, tweets Joel Lorenzi of The Oklahoman. “Now I’ve changed my mindset going into games,” Giddey said, “where it’s like, ‘If he’s gonna leave me open, I’m gonna punish them. I’m gonna make them pay and change their defensive scheme.’”
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