Post-practice work helps Wolves’ Russell find his game

Timberwolves starting point guard D'Angelo Russell credits some extra work and some extra run in the team's unofficial Stay-in-Shape League (SISL) for his breakout 30-point game in Sunday's 129-124 victory at Cleveland.

Russell participated in the SISL, a post-practice and post-shootaround game getting up and down the floor for players who haven't seen many minutes recently.

In Sunday night's game, Russell went 11-for-13 from the field, 4-for-5 on three-pointers, had 12 assists and committed just two turnovers. His play helped hold off the Cavaliers after the Wolves had a 24-point lead they almost lost, but didn't.

"Just play more basketball, more free basketball, more unscripted," Russell said after Tuesday's practice and before the Wolves flew to Orlando for Wednesday's game. "Stay-in-Shape has less structure. It kind of allows you to just be free. It's working out for me."

The five-point victory ended the Wolves' three-game losing streak and gave a Cleveland team without injured All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Jarrett Allen its first home loss.

Wolves coach Chris Finch gave all the credit to Russell and the extra work he has done.

"We just tried to call his number a few times early in the game," Finch said. "He basically did it himself, just put some extra work in, played in the Stay-in-Shape League. He was ultra-aggressive through all of that. Came out with the mind-set of being aggressive, shooting himself into a rhythm."

Russell said it's no exact science finding his playing and shooting rhythm again. He just believes that in this situation more is more.

"I don't know, you're throwing a bunch of things at the wall and hoping something sticks right now," he said. "That could be your approach. That could be getting more rest. That could be getting more shots. For me, it's just playing more basketball."

Playing more basketball is better preparation — and more preparation for everyone is better for a team seeking to build off a streak-busting victory.

"Just our preparation for the game," Russell said when asked what his team can bottle and take with it from Sunday's game. "With or without their key players, we were ready. We were locked in and we were all about us. I think it was our preparation going into that game, carrying over to the next game. We know we've got to prepare and get up for the next game."

Board work

The Wolves outrebounded Cleveland 47-40, which is, star center Karl-Anthony Towns said, the way it should be alongside Rudy Gobert, even if 16 of the Cavs' 40 were offensive rebounds.

"I mean, two 7-footers," Towns said. "Well, I'm 7 foot. He's 7-foot-10, so he can do whatever he wants. We definitely should be dominating the glass, as tall as we are, especially with the length we have on the court. You have us two. Jaden McDaniels is 6-9, 6-10. Ant (Anthony Edwards) jumps out of the building and D-Lo is out there. We just have to make sure we should be rebounding at a high level."

Naz returns

Wolves forward Naz Reid practiced Tuesday after being out ill and is expected to be available to play Wednesday at Orlando.

"We certainly could have used him, especially with our foul trouble recently with our bigs," Finch said. "It'll be good."