Houston Rockets v Minnesota Timberwolves
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 20: Josh Okogie #20 of the Minnesota Timberwolves blocks the shot of Jalen Green #0 of the Houston Rockets on October 20, 2021 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Wolves Defense-First Approach Pays Dividends

Written by Taylor Nardinger

It’s just one game, but if the Minnesota Timberwolves’ commanding 124-106 victory in Wednesday’s home opener is any indication, the team’s energy both on and off court has transformed.

The additions of veterans Taurean Prince and Patrick Beverley increase the team’s defensive abilities while also providing sound locker room leaders. Head coach Chris Finch underwent his first full offseason at the helm, keying in on the team’s areas for improvement.

All of the above came to fruition, albeit for just one game, in Wednesday’s opener.

Wolves guard Malik Beasley hustled back in transition defense to prevent multiple Houston Rockets scores. Josh Okogie continually hounded Rockets’ scorers, holding Kevin Porter Jr. to 4-11 from the floor and 11 points. When their offense struggled early game, it was the Wolves’ defense that provided a spark and in turned the game in Minnesota’s favor.

The Target Center crowd of 16,000-plus fed off the team’s energy on Wednesday, and the Wolves reciprocated.

During postgame media availability, Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns noted the atmosphere and change in game one.

“It’s about building the culture. The culture that we have all been trying to build here is something that is special, and it requires everyone to be active, regardless of whether you’re the starting five, or the bench five, everyone has to be engaged into the game and we have to be there for each other,” Towns said.

Second guard Anthony Edwards also recognized the changes on court.

“Last year, everyone was comfortable,” Edwards said. “This year, we’ve got energy, everyone’s happy, we want to see our brothers succeed. We’re playing with passion out there, and we’re playing to win this year.”

The Wolves turn their attention next to the New Orleans Pelicans, who Minnesota will face in back-to-back games at Target Center on Saturday and Monday. Tickets are available here.


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