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Thibodeau on Timberwolves’ rotation: ‘Nothing is set in stone’

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose (25) and guard Jeff Teague (0) celebrate after making a shot in the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers at Target Center on Friday, Nov. 16. Jesse Johnson / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — Sunday’s slogfest that was Minnesota’s 100-87 loss to Memphis seemed like a good opportunity to change things up to try to turn the tide.

Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau did that to some degree. Rather than reinserting a struggling Jeff Teague in the fourth quarter, Thibodeau stayed with Tyus Jones for an extended shift and then had Derrick Rose finish out the game as the team’s point guard. Thibodeau said the unit that started the fourth quarter was playing well and he figured he’d stick with it. He was searching for answers to Minnesota’s struggles.

Those answers didn’t include playing rookie Josh Okogie. Okogie has provided the Wolves with instant energy all season, but both he and Anthony Tolliver were shuffled out of the rotation with the Jimmy Butler trade that brought Robert Covington and Dario Saric to Minnesota.

Okogie played less than a minute of garbage time in Minnesota’s win over Portland on Friday and didn’t play at all in Sunday’s loss. Tolliver hasn’t seen action since last Monday’s win over Brooklyn. But that could change eventually.

“Nothing is set in stone,” Thibodeau said. “I thought the group that we had is playing well. I don’t want to overreact, I don’t want to underreact, but you always think about all those things. Just keep working, stay ready.”

Bickerstaff’s chance

After two interim jobs, former Gophers guard J.B. Bickerstaff finally has his chance as a full-time NBA head coach.

Bickerstaff served as the Houston Rockets’ interim coach after Kevin McHale was fired during the 2015-16 season. He did the same in Memphis last season after the Grizzlies fired David Fizdale early in the campaign. The Grizzlies struggled mightily, stumbling to a 22-60 record, hampered by major injuries.

Still, the franchise saw enough out of Bickerstaff to name him the permanent head coach in May.

“It meant a lot,” Bickerstaff said of the decision. “After going through what we went through last year, basically you kind of put your career on the line. Because of the situation, not a lot of places are going to give you a chance with all those losses. And for them to reward me with this opportunity, it says a lot about them and how they appreciated the job we did, even in very tough circumstances. So we’re happy to be back.”

Now that Bickerstaff knows he’s in Memphis for the long haul, he said he can put a real plan in place.

“It’s not a what-the-(heck)-are-we-going-to-do-today plan,” Bickerstaff said. “It’s a two- or three-year plan and how do you get there? And you can live with making decisions on the big picture instead of having to make decisions on tonight’s game, tomorrow’s practice. You can stick to your guns a little bit and your principles, because you know that you’re trying to build something bigger.”


Andrew Wiggins made just 6 of 18 shots from the field Sunday. but he didn’t see his shot selection as a problem.

“I feel like I just missed so many easy ones around the rim and in the mid-range with no one on me,” Wiggins said. “Good shots, I just missed them.”