Shootaround Report | Ending Harden’s Streak, Towns’ Maturity
As the Wolves prepare to face the Rockets on Wednesday, one person is justifiably at the forefront of their minds—James Harden. Saying that Harden has been hot lately would be the understatement of the century. He’s scored 30+ points in 30 straight games and has to be considered an MVP frontrunner.
The Wolves are looking to end that streak.
“The thing you have to give him credit for is how he’s studied the game and how he’s reacted. A lot of players can see how players are defending them and still want to stay with what they’re comfortable with. Him, he’s adapted to every defense that teams have thrown at him,” said Interim Head Coach Ryan Saunders. “You know you’re not going to fully stop a guy like that, hold him to zero points. It would be great if you could, but you just want to try and limit that, and playing without fouling is a big thing.”
Harden’s run has impressed his peers around the NBA, but if anything that only adds more of a drive for them to try to stop it.
“It’s amazing. He’s a superstar, I don’t know what to say,” said Dario Saric. “With the step-backs, the handles, his left hand, it’ll be hard, but he’s not superman or something. If we can keep him with a bad percentage, I think we can win this game. We try to give everything. I give him big credit, he’s one of the best in history with what he’s doing in pick and rolls, it’s amazing to watch.”
While the Wolves are focused on the game against the Rockets, the All-Star break will offer a good opportunity for the team to rest up, study up and prepare for the stretch run. Karl-Anthony Towns will also be representing Minnesota in the All-Star game. Saunders said at shootaround that he was thrilled to see Towns recognized for his efforts this season and understood his emotional response to making the team.
“I’ve seen him mature throughout the season,” said Saunders. “He’s getting better and better each day and he’s getting more aware of leadership, things to do, things not to do, and being a leader on the court as well. With the season it’s like anything—you go through ups and downs, it’s about how you handle your downs. Trying to stay even-keeled. Karl has done a good job with that. More than anything it’s him saying I pushed through something that was tough for me at times, and I was recognized for it.”
The Wolves take on the Rockets at 7 p.m. tonight (note the time change from the original 8:30 tip). You can read more about the contest and find out how to buy tickets in our scouting report.