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What Finch showed the Wolves in a film session to help correct the defense

HOUSTON – Sensing his team could use a bit of a pick-me-up, Timberwolves coach Chris Finch decided to turn on some positive film of his team.

When the Wolves were winning a lot of games earlier in the season, Finch said he was dwelling on areas the Wolves could improve in film sessions so they would not lose focus.

After the team dropped two consecutive games for the first time all season, Finch went in the opposite direction.

Following their 122-95 victory over Houston on Friday, center/forward Naz Reid said Finch showed the team clips at that morning's shootaround of what the team's top-rated defense looked like when it was playing at its peak.

"We were looking like, 'Damn, that's us,' " Reid said. "We were all pretty much like: 'That's something we know we can do, that we can get back to.' "

It looked like they rediscovered themselves Friday. The Wolves held their 10th opponent of the season under 100 points and their first since Dec. 23. They limited the Rockets to just 40% shooting.

Gobert said the film session was a timely reminder for the Wolves of how they could play ahead of Friday's game.

"It's important sometimes to just re-center, re-group and understand what we need is in this locker room and what we need is to be dogs, to be the guys that we were tonight and we were in the last few games that we were tonight," Gobert said. "It's good to see it too, to be like, OK, that's fun. When we play like that, it looks good. That's the team that we want to be. That's the team people fear."

Gobert took it upon himself to amp up his defensive play, and after Alperen Sengun got off to a hot start against him (4-for-5), the Houston center went 4-for-12 the rest of the night for 19 points.

"Win or loss, we could feel that our defense wasn't like it was," Gobert said. "A lot of it is myself. I take a lot of responsibility for that. But we could feel our mindset was slipping away."

That's one reason Finch pulled out those clips to show the Wolves, who play at Dallas on Sunday, what they could do.

"He showed us a bunch of clips, probably like 10-12 clips, of us just flying around, being big, protecting the rim. It was a good thing to see," Anthony Edwards said. "I feel like we was great tonight. Jaden [McDaniels] and Rudy once again the anchors of the defense.

They will need another strong defensive effort against a Dallas team that has Kyrie Irving back in the fold. The first two times the Wolves played the Mavericks, Irving didn't play, and Luka Doncic missed their previous matchup, a Wolves victory on Dec. 28.

To Finch, how the Wolves play on one end of the floor can influence how they play on the other end, and their struggling offense has led to a lag in their defense over the last few weeks. On Friday, both parts of the floor were in sync. Good offense led to positive energy on defense, which fed into itself at the other end. The Wolves had 20 fast-break points against the Rockets.

"Who we are is a defensive-minded team, and whatever happens offensively, we have to find the level of accountability and maturity that nothing can faze that," Gobert said. "And if we don't touch the ball, if we don't make the shots, we got to keep doing the things we have to do defensively."

They got back to it for one night, and now they will have to maintain that with three games in four nights, all on the road.