Covington, Saric debut as T’Wolves top Pelicans
There was plenty of excitement for Wednesday night's Sixers game with Jimmy Butler debuting. The four-time All-Star finished with 14 points in a somewhat underwhelming performance, which is to be expected after coming to a new team and having to learn plays and concepts quickly. Unfortunately, the Sixers inability to close out games overshadowed Butler's first game with his new team. Leading by 16 early in the fourth, the Sixers allowed a late Orlando run and eventually lost the game by five.
Out in the midwest, Robert Covington and Dario Saric made their debuts for the Minnesota Timberwolves and while they also blew a big lead (21 points), they were able to ride a hot Andrew Wiggins down the stretch to defeat the Pelicans, 107-100. Covington got the start for Minnesota and finished with a team-high 41 minutes. He scored 13 points to go along with seven rebounds and two steals.
"Man, these guys wanna win," said Covington. "They move the ball really well, there's a lot of unselfishness and guys just making the right plays and making the right reads. We were playing for each other out there...we just wanna win and have fun."
Covington seemed to look comfortable right away in his new home, smiling at his press conference and hitting three's to help the Timberwolves build a 20-point lead in the first half. As the time wound down in the fourth, you could see Covington on the court raising his hands to get the crowd on their feet, something he's very familiar with in his former home.
"It's just a mindset that we need them," Covington said about the Wolves fans. "We need everyone in the stands to know that was the extra kick for us. I've experienced that [in Philly] so, it was gonna help us get that win tonight."
As for Dario, the Croatian forward came off the bench and played 20 minutes in his debut, finishing with nine points. The Homie went 1-for-2 from beyond and had three boards, two steals. Saric finished with a +7 on the night, and said post-game that it was nice to just get out there and play.
"It was very hard to get to know every play. Coach has so many plays and his playbook was a little bit hard for me," Saric told Fox Sports North. "But once I stepped on the court, I feel really good out there. I tried to make plays for other guys and tried to enjoy in this moment. I think it was unbelievable for me and nice experience for first time."
While Covington seemed to fit in right away at the introductory presser on Tuesday, you can tell through Dario's facial expressions that this transition is tough for him and is going to be tough moving forward. We can only hope that the more time he spends around his new team, the more comfortable he becomes.
"To get traded in the middle of the season, it was a little bit hard for me and still is hard," Dario said about the whirlwind of the past few days. "I try to adjust, I have great people here to help me adjust....it's just a pleasure to be a part of this organization."
It seems fitting that Covington and Saric played their first game against Jrue Holiday and the Pelicans on Wednesday. Holiday, the former Sixer, was dealt to New Orleans as one of Sam Hinkie's first traded to kick-start the process. Dario and Robert's departures could very well signal the potential end of the process and the jump to the next stage - contending.
Dario, RoCo and the Timberwolves host Nik Stauskas, Evan Turner and the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.