MINNEAPOLIS – Twenty-five quick thoughts on the 25 points scored by the San Antonio Spurs in the first quarter of Minnesota's 128-89 win Wednesday night at the Target Center.
1. At some point, the honeymoon phase must end for Wolves. At some point, the Wolves will have to go back to Earth and return to mediocrity.
2. But what happens if the honeymoon is already over? What happens if the Wolves version presented since the nine games Jimmy Butler is what are the Wolves?
3. What if wolves are really so good?
4. Sooner than later, this will not be considered a small sample. Minnesota is 7-2 since trade, the best defensive team in the NBA. It's not like they were victims of cupcake crimes either. The Spurs, Nets (twice), Pelicans and Trail Blazers are all in the first half of the league in the offensive standings. Wolves all held them below 110 points and won.
5. Before the deal, it was the worst defensive team in the league. Now it's one of the best. It is also a sustainable formula. Robert Covington has transformed the way Minnesota plays defense. The Wolves do not give up easy, and Wednesday night was another example.
6. It's now a team that plays with pride in defense. Every possession counts for them now. It's not something that could be said three weeks ago.
7. Before the deal against Covington and Dario Šarić, the Wolves were in last place in defense with a score north of 114. Since then, they have earned the second-highest defensive rating of the NBA with 98.6. The only best team since the beginning of these two teams is Oklahoma City with a defensive rating of 98.5.
8. If there is a way to get back into the playoffs, he's busy doing business on the defensive side. This has never happened to this point with this group of players, until now.
9. "I'm not sure. Maybe Rob, Dario and these guys will come to give us that boost of energy, "said Jeff Teague after the win. "The guys just want to win, these two guys brought a winning mentality on the defensive side."
10. The winning mentality can not be denied. There is new energy around this team, both on the floor and in the locker room. Karl-Anthony Towns was released, and Covington was a big reason. These two people quickly formed what appears to be a legitimate out of court connection. These are usually the last two to leave the locker room and they often plan where they will dine after games. In some sports, it does not matter if the guys in the locker room are alike, but in a room with only 15 guys, chemistry is important.
11. These two people prospered one over the other and Covington was the ideal solution in Minneapolis. Wednesday night, he was one of the best in career, plus 44, on the field.
12. "I do not know if I've seen it before," coach Tom Thibodeau said after the victory.
13. Covington was everywhere in defense of the Wolves, which was reported to the rest of the team. Teague seemed particularly active on the defensive side, just as Tyus Jones and Towns continued to improve on this side.
14. The last time the Wolves had a .500 average, was the night Derrick Rose scored 50 points against Utah Jazz at home. It was the night Butler was sitting and taking everything Rose could muster for the Wolves to be victorious. After that night, they lost five games in a row and traded.
15. Whatever the method chosen, doing this job, incorporating a pair of new players and following such a path is impressive. The Wolves finally made it to the bottom of the standings to find themselves at the height of the Western Conference's playoff race. They looked like a competitor.
16. "The guys just play in freedom, do the right thing, move the ball really well, play free and open," Covington said. "The guys are just playing, nobody thinks a lot. Just go there and do what you do, it has allowed us to succeed. "
17. Once again, the bench was a huge reason why the game had become an eruption. The first quarter was tight, with the Wolves in front of 28-25. Once the second period has started, the game is over for all intents and purposes. Minnesota's bench kicked off a 22-4 run to open the second quarter. Wolves overall dominated the 29-9 Wolves in the second period.
18. As expected, Covington was one of the main reasons why this was the case. He played 19 minutes in the first half and the Spurs were able to score only 18 points with him on the ground. On Wednesday, in 30 minutes in Covington, the Spurs scored only 38 points. This is remarkable and probably a more impressive statistic than his last-plus-44 line.
19. Much to the fans' delight, rookie Josh Okogie has extended speaking time for the first time since Covington and Šarić arrived. He only played a few minutes of time lost in recent weeks, and it was the same Wednesday, it turns out that the fourth quarter was a waste of time.
20. When Okogie got up and unlocked his warm-up jacket, the Target Center fans dropped what was arguably the liveliest cheer of the night. The place then exploded to a higher level when he stood up for a dunk in traffic. The rookie collected 12 points in just 10 minutes of action.
21. He will probably still be out of the rotation, but being able to stay ready when his number is called is a very impressive thing for a player who has never been placed in this situation. Okogie said that the ovation he had received from fans had helped him improve, but it was still good to see him play at this level.
22. The San Antonio Spurs entered Target Center and were outclassed in every facet of the game. At one point, the Wolves were able to increase their lead over the Spurs to 48 points.
23. There is no doubt that this is the best game of the season so far for the Wolves. Now, they just need to know how to repeat this performance. It is unrealistic to think that they will continue to win games with more than 40 points, but it is very realistic to see this type of effort repeated.
24. This match could be one of two things: the night the wolves have told the world is really, or the highlight of the honeymoon.
25. The Wolves are back in action Saturday night against the Boston Celtics. Talk to you then.