Before every game, interim coach Ryan Saunders runs through updates on an ever-growing list of injured players.
Like Friday’s game against Utah, the Wolves were down four players who would normally contribute if they were healthy — Robert Covington (right knee bone bruise), Tyus Jones (sprained left ankle), Jeff Teague (left foot injury) and Derrick Rose (right ankle injury).
Gorgui Dieng, who suffered a hip contusion Friday in Phoenix, was in the lineup Sunday.
Jones and Covington weren’t on the Wolves’ recent three-game trip, but Saunders said they were able to “ramp up” their activity level of late.
Regarding Jones, Saunders said: “It does feel like he’s making progress, and I think it’s one of those things that each day he does a little bit more so you see how he feels and you adjust accordingly moving forward. We feel good about him.”
Jones was walking around the locker room without a walking boot, something he was wearing before the trip.
Covington hasn’t played since Jan. 2 because of his bone bruise, and Saunders said there still isn’t a timetable for him to return. Saunders said Covington is able to work out more on a bike.
“He is getting better,” Saunders said.
The injuries have affected how the Wolves play.
Saunders said he has had to tweak the types of plays and systems he is running because of the injured players.
“You see things that might work against a certain team. But then you realize you have different personnel too so you want to play to their strengths, and that’s been a primary focus,” Saunders said.
‘Five-out’ is in
Related to that, Saunders has been running a lot of sets that include five players around the perimeter for the Wolves. It’s something Saunders said he has incorporated in part because of the what Jazz coach Quin Snyder has done in Utah.
“I think that’s where the league is going,” Saunders said. “Spread the floor. Coach Snyder has done a great job with his group. He’s one of the best offensive minds in the game and so seeing a lot of things he does as well, you see a thrust to the basket and you have shooting around the court.”
Because of the 6 p.m. start Sunday, Saunders did not call a shootaround before the game, something he has done multiple times now since taking over as coach. Former coach Tom Thibodeau would hold shootarounds before 6 p.m. starts.
Saunders said he is trying not to throw off players’ days since they’d have one fewer free hours if there was a shootaround. But, he added, this isn’t a firm policy.
“We believe in rest too. A lot of times 6 p.m. games, it can throw off guys’ timing if they come in to shoot and you have one less hour basically to be home,” Saunders said. “It’s something I’m going with at the moment. As you guys know I go a lot off feel, so everything is subject to change.”