Was Karl-Anthony Towns frustrated? Of course. Did he think he might have been on the wrong side of a quick whistle? Yes, if you read between the lines.
But, after being tossed late in the first half of the Timberwolves’ loss Friday at Utah after picking up two technical fouls in the final minute of the second quarter, Towns said he learned a lesson he will take forward.
“Regardless of the situation, regardless of how I feel — and a lot of people feel — it’s about making sure I don’t put myself in that position to even give him a chance [to make that call],” Towns said.
Both Towns and Jeff Teague were ejected in a very contentious loss to the Jazz.
Teague’s ejection came with 5 minutes, 20 seconds left in the game when, perhaps frustrated at not getting a foul call on Ricky Rubio at the other end, the current Wolves point guard knocked the former Wolves point guard out of bounds.
Said Teague, “When it happened, I was disappointed I let my team down.”
Teague said he didn’t think he would be ejected on the play with Rubio. He felt he might get a flagrant 1 call.
“I was just trying to stop the play,” Teague said. “I didn’t think I hit him that hard. I think he put a little extra on it, but he made a good play for his team and I’ve got to be smarter in that situation.”
For Towns, it was the center’s first ejection, and it came after his second technical in the final minute of the first half. The first came at 1:00 when he was called for an elbow to Jae Crowder’s face on a play in which Crowder was called for the foul. The second one came with 23.4 seconds left in the half, after Towns had made a basket, when he was called for complaining about not getting a foul call. Talking to a pool reporter after the game, official Kane Fitzgerald said Towns was called for “continuous complaint. Three or four plays in a row he was complaining and a technical foul was given.”
After taking two days off, the Wolves returned to practice Monday after an extensive film session, which included a review of the Utah game, things coach Tom Thibodeau wants to emphasize as the team prepares for Thursday’s game against Boston, and a first good, long look at the Celtics.
“We had a pretty good practice,” Thibodeau said. “The guys had good energy coming off two days off.”
After it was over, both Towns and Teague talked about their premature exits to Friday’s game. Both felt, first, they had hurt the team.
“I got to be smarter at the end of the day,” Towns said. “And that’s my fault. I told my teammates that I feel bad. I’ve put a lot on me to be out there with them. For me not to be out there, to put them in a spot — myself in a spot — like that, to hurt my teams is obviously not professional.”
Thibodeau was loath to discuss the subject.
“You’re trying to get me to give my money away,” he joked.
But: “I’ll say this,” Thibodeau said. “It’s a tough game to officiate, and to decide what’s a foul and what’s not a foul. It’s not an easy thing to do. [Towns] had some tough calls go against him, so sometimes that leads to frustration, and obviously we have to handle that better.”
But not having Towns in that game hurt the Wolves, with Jazz center Rudy Gobert dominating in the paint in the second half.
Towns, though, might have had an argument that his second technical was a quick call. His phone, he said, was ringing with support after the game. But that begged the question, does he have to deal with officials differently going forward?
Thibodeau said Towns is “very respectful” toward officials.
“Maybe that hurts him,” Thibodeau said. “I see a lot of times guys are going off and they tend to get calls. I just want him to play and stay disciplined.”
• Thibodeau was asked about his technical for getting into a jawing match with Crowder on Friday. “It’s just a game, it’s a competition, that’s all it is,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for him and their team.”
• Thibodeau on Jimmy Butler going to a Wolves viewing party Friday: “The guy’s bored out of his mind,” he joked. “But he’s into it.”
• Nemanja Bjelica said he got a lot of feedback on his move to pull down his shorts while adjusting his uniform between free throws Friday: “Here in the USA they make jokes from anything,” he said. “My parents called [and asked], ‘What were you doing?’ My wife, she was laughing. People from Serbia, too.”