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Minnesota 101, Dallas 92: Towns Dominates the struggling Mavericks

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Karl-Anthony Towns scores 20 first quarter points en route to the Wolves’ 12th victory of the season.

There are proving to be quite a few teams in the NBA that can not guard Karl-Anthony Towns.

Most teams can put up some resistance, but many teams are without a single option to stymie Towns, who missed four total shots tonight while scoring 34 points. Dallas struggled with Towns as much as any team has this season. Noted rim defender Andrew Bogut was the initial primary defender of Towns. Towns promptly dropped 20 points in the first quarter (often on Bogut) as the Wolves forced Bogut to chase Towns, through screens, out to the perimeter.

Towns was not afraid to shoot throughout the quarter. He destroyed both Bogut and Harrison Barnes, making his first eight shots. As scintillating as Towns’ 20-point scoring dominance was, it is the progression over the course of the season in Towns’ ability to pass out of the post that has me excited. Towns also showcased this tonight as, out of necessity, the Mavs were forced to double Towns.

Towns accounted for 25 of the Wolves first 33 points, with both his scoring and assisting. The Mavs had 19 total points in the first quarter.

Tonight was yet another chapter in the Karl-Anthony Towns dominant post-up Center novel. Towns’ abilities to; get buckets one-on-one, pass out of the double-team, AND pivot to score through the double team is simply next level. There are many things Towns does on the perimeter that transcend the center position, but it is the ability to discern the right move when performing the simple Center jobs that make Towns a superstar.

Karl-Anthony Towns Definitely Dominated the Decrepit Dallas Defenders!

KAT has no mercy for Mejri as he wheels & deals, then spins & wins!

Angry Kris Dunn and Happy Tyus Jones

The young point guards both played well in short stints tonight. Kris Dunn tallied two steals and one ferocious block in 17 minutes of play. Dunn’s tenacious play was spurred after receiving a flagrant haymaker to the head from Justin Anderson.

Dunn got angry. This was the first time I felt comfortable with a Kris Dunn-Russell Westrbook comparison. The Anderson assault struck a cord in Dunn that fueled Dunn to play with Westbrook-ian ferocity.

The most impressive aspect of Dunn’s defensive game is his body control while flying across the floor. Dunn has consistently exhibited an ability to stay close to the ball-handler without fouling. Tonight, Dunn added Wes Matthews to a list of victims that includes P.J. Tucker and Evan Turner.

Dunn masticates Matthews for dinner!

A minute into the 4th quarter Zach LaVine departed to the locker room with a left hip contusion. Initially, Brandon Rush took off his warmup and was set to check in, but Tom Thibodeau had a last-second change of heart. Thibodeau called upon fourth quarter specialist Tyus Jones. The Wolves ran away with the 4th quarter and at least some of that credit must (again) be handed to Jones. The #FreeTyus brigade got some added fodder tonight.

Tyus Jones on coming in during the fourth quarter after not playing in a few games:

“You’ve got to take advantage of your opportunity. It’s next guy up. Zach went down and there can’t be a fall off. If Coach calls, you’ve got to be ready to go in and pick up where Zach left off. Just trying to make sure I can do anything to help the team pull out a W tonight.”

Jones made all three of the shots he attempted— a fast break layup, a three out of a Karl-Anthony Towns double-team, and a floater over Seth Curry that proved to be the final nail in the Mavericks coffin.

Tough Tyus tenaciously terminates Dallas’ hopes.

It should be noted that these minutes by Jones are not necessarily an indication of what is to come. Jones only played after Zach LaVine went to the locker room with what is being called a left hip contusion. The few minutes Jones has played this season have mostly been due to injury to one of the rotation guards. If LaVine’s injury is not serious, it is unlikely that this narrative changes. According to Tom Thibodeau, this is simply the reality for Jones.

Notes:

Ricky Rubio was phenomenal with 13 points, 5 rebounds, 15 assists, and 5 steals. The Wolves are now 6-1 when Rubio tallies 10+ assists.

After the game, Thibodeau was somewhat measured in his praise of Rubio. It remains apparent that he is not a Thibs favorite, though Thibs does seem to recognize Rubio is his best option for now.

Late edit (full quote added for context)

Question: You guys are 6-1 now when Rubio gets 10 or more assists. Is that misleading at all or does it show that this team can be a different team when he’s orchestrating?

Thibs: “I guess it says we’re making shots if he’s got 10 assists. I don’t know…you can probably make the numbers say whatever you want them to say. The important thing is for us to play well and if he’s performing well our team is probably performing well, that’s usually the responsibility of your point guard and you judge your point guard by how the team is functioning. So performance is important and certainly winning is important.” (h/t @thedailywolf)

Thibs also said he thought Rubio had great command of the game and made excellent reads early with Karl to get him going.

Ricky badgered Barea, eviscerating his elderly opponent!

The Wolves again struggled in defending the Pick and Roll. Dirk Nowitzki carved up Wolves guards when they switched following a screen. This is not all on the guards. Communication on defense remains a major void for the Wolves. Per usual, Gorgui Dieng looked lost as a secondary defender.

The Wolves’ communication on defense was muddled, so Gorgui looked befuddled, and he was completely lost as Dirk tossed in a trifecta of triples.

With a win over the Mavericks, the Wolves no longer have the worst record in the Western Conference.