NEW ORLEANS – Houston guard Jalen Green drove alongside Jaden McDaniels early in the Wolves' win on Sunday and grazed McDaniels on the way to the hoop.
He put the shot up and only after it missed did an official on the perimeter blow a whistle for a foul on McDaniels, who was left to put his hands up as if to say, "Really?"
According to coach Chris Finch that was not a foul, but it typifies the kind of whistles McDaniels has been getting this season as he tries to work through foul trouble that has plagued him for the first half the season.
"Some of them just aren't fouls," Finch said. "The first foul he got the other night in Houston wasn't a foul. He had his hands back, took some contact on his body. … We've been just trying to work with him about his hands. Getting his hands back and being super diligent with showing his hands to the referees."
McDaniels is second on the Wolves with 3.5 fouls per game, behind Karl-Anthony Towns' 3.7, though McDaniels averages 7.9 fewer minutes per game than Towns.
The good news on that front for McDaniels is the total has gone down as the season moves along. Over his past 17 games, he has averaged 3.1 fouls per game compared with 3.8 over his first 20. A move to a regular bench role has helped him reduce the fouls and kept him away from having to guard another team's top player for extended periods of time.
Some fouls, Finch said, occur when McDaniels is "re-reaching" to block a shot. As in, he tries to block a shot initially, maybe faces a pump fake, then tries again a moment later and gets called for a foul.
McDaniels might also be surprising officials with how effectively he can cut off an opponent.
"He can cut off a guy quickly," Finch said. "Those are the ones if there's anything you say, 'Hey that's really good body position and tough luck there.'
"When he's able to cut somebody off in a short space and oftentimes they will think it's a block, but it's not. He has very short steps, does a really good job of being down and ready even though he's tall. So it may not look like he's down and ready."
That can also lead to the whistles. McDaniels is known for his competitiveness on the team, but he doesn't make a scene on the court when there are calls with which he disagrees. He's just trying to move on to the next play, and hopes there won't be a whistle.
"Shoot, I don't even pay attention to it," McDaniels said. "If I get a bad whistle, I feel like that's just going to happen that day. I kind of don't even think about it no more. It just gets you out of the game."
Guard Patrick Beverley was back in the starting lineup after a two-game absence because of groin soreness. Entering Tuesday, the Wolves were 9-2 when Beverley was in the starting lineup alongside Jarred Vanderbilt, D'Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards and Towns.