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Frustrated Sam Mitchell benched Towns, Wiggins, Rubio due to defense

Sam Mitchell, Ricky Rubio

Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Sam Mitchell talks with guard Ricky Rubio (9) in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Wednesday, March 2, 2016 in Minneapolis. The Wizards won 104-98. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)


The Milwaukee Bucks went on a 31-7 run that extended across halftime and let them take control of the game against the Timberwolves and cruise to an easy win Friday night.

That — specifically the lack of defense — pissed coach Sam Mitchell off.

Just 3:52 into the second half he benched Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Tayshaun Prince out of frustration with their defense. He benched Ricky Rubio a minute later. Rubio, Towns, and Wiggins never saw the court again.

Mitchell explained himself in a terse 30-second postgame press conference, via Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.

“I thought the guys who played in the second half played hard,” he began. “Played together, played with a type of intensity and energy we needed to. I thought some of the guys in the first group didn’t play that way. And they have to understand, every single night you have to earn it. You don’t get to sleepwalk your way through 20, 25 minutes of the game and then decide you gotta play. … So the guys that didn’t play in the second half, after we pulled ’em out, hopefully they understand that there’s two sides on the court. You have to play both sides.”

Well then.

With a young team, this kind of message once in a while can be effective. We’ll see how the Timberwolves respond Saturday night when Brooklyn comes to town.