The Wolves led the entire way in this one, though they were only able to take complete control in the third quarter, when they stretched what had been an eight point halftime lead to double figures.
This was, frankly, not an exciting affair. The Nets are hapless, and despite keeping it close for a while, their lack of defense and consistent offensive fire power beyond Brook Lopez meant they were never able to really make a game of it. The Wolves rolled offensively, making 51 percent from the field, nine threes, getting to the line 32 times and grabbing 12 offensive rebounds. It was easy for them much of the night.
Once the Wolves cleaned up their transition defense, a problem in the first half when they allowed 17 fast break points for the Nets, they were able to pull away.
Wire to wire victories are rare things for the Timberwolves. This was their third such win of the year, and it should not be taken for granted. There were some hiccups, but the Wolves established that they were the better team early, and didn’t let this get away, as we’ve seen far too many times this season.
The individual story for the Wolves tonight, as it often is, was Karl-Anthony Towns. He finished with 37 and 13, added four blocks, and there were stretches in the second half that he simply dominated. His ability to shoot it or drive it from the perimeter remains astounding for a big man, and he took advantage, with two threes and several impressive forays into the paint. His three pointer-blocked shot-three point play off an offensive rebound sequence in the fourth quarter was the final nail in the coffin and showed off his immense talent.
Towns did all of this while playing under the weather. He almost didn’t play in the game tonight.
Meanwhile, both Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine got to 20 tonight, and it was especially nice to see LaVine find his shooting touch. Three for six from three and six for 11 overall is where we expect him to be. Wiggins has also been sick for the last few days, but both he and Towns were able to push through their illnesses.
It’s nice to win a game you are expected to win, and to do so with a minimum amount of drama. The Wolves face another struggling Eastern Conference team at home on Monday when the Orlando Magic come to town.
- Kris Dunn had a nice game in relief of Ricky Rubio, who was in foul trouble most of the night. Dunn didn’t score, but dished out seven assists and grabbed five boards, and the offense rolled along with him in there. He’s had his moments this season.
- Rubio himself had a bit of a scoring run keeping the game out of reach for the Nets in the fourth and finished with 14 points and six dimes in 22 minutes. (I wonder if he regrets taking an intentional foul early when Towns was down at the other end of the floor.)
- Shabazz Muhammad once again produced off the bench for the Wolves, finishing with 18. That guy lives to score. He remains hot from three (two for three,) and just grinds for buckets inside. Also grabbed five offensive boards.
- Brook Lopez can score. 25 in 30 minutes on 10-15 from the field.
- I like the looks of that Caris LeVert. Finished with 11 points, four boards, two steals. Looks like there’s a player in there.
- Gorgui Dieng finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists. It was his seventh double-double of the season and first since Jan. 6 at Washington.
- Minnesota now moves to 18-29 on the season and have now won five out of their last six games at Target Center.
- Wolves are 11-14 at home on the season and 7-3 over their last 10 games.
- 129 points is a season-high.
- Wiggins made the 1000th free throw of his career in the first quarter tonight.
On pulling away in the third quarter:
“It wasn’t a great game, but they can score. I liked the way we started the game a lot. I thought we got loose for a little while and this is a tough team to let your guard down, you know for a minute they can make a run quickly on you and so I thought we did that, but I thought we responded. The second half was better, I liked what we did offensively. I thought moving the ball was very good, we got good shots, we shared it, made quick decisions, that part was good. Defensively we still have a lot of work to do.”
On Dunn stepping in for Rubio because of foul trouble:
“I thought Kris [Dunn] gave us really good minutes. I thought Shabazz [Muhammad] gave us really good minutes off the bench. I thought Zach [LaVine] was good again. Karl [Towns] was terrific. He was still a little under the weather but obviously I’m very pleased with his work.”
On tightening their game up:
“We want to have 13 turnovers or less in a game, so I thought we’re doing a lot better job with that by keeping the turnovers down. If we don’t hang on to it too long. You don’t dance with it, just make quick decisions. If you have the shot, take it. If not, move it quickly. When we do that we’re very good offensively.”
“Today was a long day for me. I’m glad it ended well. I was real close to getting a DNP tonight. I decided when I walked in, about 20 minutes, I was going to play. I’m happy that we got a W and that I was able to contribute. I really can’t talk too much and not too loud. I’m just glad I found a way to get out of bed today.”
On feeling sick during the game:
“Oh yeah, it was hard to breathe. Coughing the whole time. You just have to find a way. You have to. I made the decision to play. We have a great training staff, a great family too. It was fun to be out there and get a win. Both Towns’ are down, but not out.”
On the team’s performance in the second half:
“We did a great job of executing and staying disciplined. We had a game plan. We weren’t flawless, but close to it. We did a great job of making them take tough shots. At the end, they started driving to the basket and we started adjusting. We did a great job of changing to the game, making things happen.”
“He (Towns) was sick. But I don’t know...I thought if he was going to play like this, we need to have him sick for the rest of the season.”
On the team’s current play:
“We’re getting better as a team. Coach is going to throw a lot of stuff at you and we are starting to pick it up and understand all of his terminology and the stuff he wants to do on the court. Long process, keep learning and getting better. 7 out of 10, that’s good. If you keep scratching wins like this, like four wins, five wins, we have a chance.”