Perhaps the most exciting part of this game was seeing KAT sit between Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden for a majority of the contest. Towns was wearing this sweet Metallica sleeveless t-shirt that most people would look ridiculous wearing out in public but KAT can pretty much pull off anything. He was really into the game, which might seem odd with this being Summer League and all but it speaks to his personality and commitment to being the face of this franchise (I think). I liked seeing him and Thibs shoot the shit with each other for an hour.
I probably yawned at least 30 times after eating chicken fingers and fries while sitting in the almost completely empty media row at Thomas and Mack arena after getting about five hours of sleep last night, and the only thing keeping me awake was 1) professionalism 2) Tyus Jones.
Could Tyus continue his excellent summer against the #1 ranked Toronto Raptors? That was the main thing I came to find out. His cumulative stats through five games entering the day were: 32.2 mpg, 17.2 ppg, 6.0 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 1.0 steal, and 2.2 turnovers with the following shooting splits: .444/45.5/.833
In 35 minutes on Saturday afternoon in the quarterfinals, Jones finished with 21 points, eight assists, three rebounds, three steals, and (gulp) seven turnovers. His assist-to-turnover ratio had been pretty solid (2.7) up until today but in his defense Toronto was bringing the double on him throughout the game and daring other Wolves players to beat them. Xavier Silas, 22 points, and Adreian Payne, 19 points and 10 rebounds, shouldered the load when Jones was forced to defer.
With 02:44 left in the game, Toronto led 76-70. It felt like the Wolves run in the tournament was coming to an end; this would be the final game for the Summer League's Cinderella. Instead, the Wolves went on a 9-0 run to go up 79-76 with 30.8 seconds on the clock. "We strung a couple stops together and that turned the game around," Jones said. "We were able to go on a run at the end."
Norman Powell, the Raptor's standout second-year guard from UCLA, came down and hit a difficult 3-pointer over two defenders to tie the game. Jones held for the last shot, took it the rim as the final seconds ticked down, but one of the Toronto defenders stripped him and the ball rolled out of bounds. Minnesota controlled possession with 1.1 seconds remaining on the clock. Just enough time to get a decent look...
Ah, Tyus pulled out the old Reggie Miller move to get free throws. The crowd booed loudly, disapproving of the call (rightly so) but Jones hit both from the line and that was all she wrote. The Wolves are heading to the semifinals to play against the Phoenix Suns tomorrow at 3 pm central time after Tyler Ulis hit the game-winning 3-pointer in overtime to beat the Denver Nuggets.
"As a second year roster guy, and the point guard, I feel a responsibility to lead this summer league team and to show my improvements as a leader and my game overall," Jones said after the game.
"We're very happy with the win but we're not satisfied," coach Ryan Saunders added. "Semis sounds better than quarters but finals sounds better than semis."
Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) July 16, 2016
How proud of Tyus Jones are you? I mean, how cool is this for you to watch him come through like this?
Saunders: It’s great. Tyus has spoken on our relationship — we’ve been close and we work a lot together — and it’s always great to see those things show through and it’s just a credit to his work ethic and his ability to stick to it.
Can you take me through that final play? What did you see? Tyus gets it on the baseline in the corner, did he draw the foul? Did he just kick his leg out?
John, you can’t try to get me in trouble in the summer time.
No, no, no [we both laugh] ... what did you draw up there?
We wanted to get a lob towards the rim. We set a back screen and Tyus was the second option there and he made a very heads up play.
Yeah, he did. Congrats on the win.
Tyus Jones on the improvements he’s made this week in Vegas
Making better reads. Knowing when and what to get us in and just feeling the game out. Just having a great feel for the game, knowing when we need to pull it out and get us into something, knowing when to take advantage of the fastbreak. Trying to focus on making it tough on them when we’re on defense, trying to force them into contested shots and just trying to make sure everyone’s playing together and we’re playing as a team. That’s what we’ve been doing the last few games and that’s why we’ve been able to win.
How much confidence have you gained from your time in Las Vegas? You’ve been playing at a really high level…
Definitely a lot of confidence. You get confidence from playing and from getting out there in game situations. It's just focusing and trying to improve each and every game, watching film, seeing what you did wrong, seeing what you improved on, and trying to improve on it the next game.
Were you fouled on the last play?
They called it so… (smiles)