MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Timberwolves had absolutely no chance in tonight’s game at New Orleans. Or so I thought.
Coming off a brutal loss to one superstar-less Wizards team, where the starters played a combined one million minutes and let lead after lead slip away, the team was staring at a showdown with Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins.
I talked about how the fatigue at the end of the game last night clearly played into the loss. With them having to travel the same night to face a rested Pelican bunch today, I didn’t give much thought to the Wolves winning this game.
Well, I’m an idiot.
Thibs played an even smaller rotation tonight, with Jeff Teague and Nemanja Bjelica out yet again, but that, apparently, was the right idea. The team pulled off the 120-102 victory, a much needed one at that.
At this point, I have to admit that Anthony Davis blew his gasket in the second quarter, was subsequently ejected and it appeared as if he was ready to throw down with the ref. He barked at the refs after picking up two fouls within a minute, each followed by a technical, and he was gone with the score still close at 46-43 in favor of the Wolves.
That played an enormous factor in the win as they outscored the Pelicans by 15 the rest of the game to close it out in comfortable fashion. Still, Cousins and guard Jrue Holiday are pretty good basketball players and employees for New Orleans, and KAT was in foul trouble throughout the night. Someone had to step up.
Enter Gorgui Dieng.
He played a season-high 37 minutes filling in for Towns, and stifled Cousins all night when the Pelicans were relying on him to carry the load. He scored 19 points on 8-13 shooting from the field, including a cherry-on-top three from above the break for the final score of the game. He grabbed six boards, two offensive, dished out five assists and had four steals. He drew fouls, dove for loose balls, he did it all.
KAT played only 21 minutes, but served a pretty important purpose. He’s the reason Davis got ejected in second quarter with his team down three. After getting called for a charge against Karl on one end, where he picked up his first technical for arguing the call, he fouled him on the defensive end and proceeded to flip out and pick up his second technical sending him packing.
I guess he had to one-up Towns performance for the refs last night as KAT looked like a monk when compared to Davis’ antics tonight. He was still able to add to his league-leading double-double tally with 11 points and 10 boards. He did rack up six turnovers but in his limited minutes, he definitely produced at his normal rate.
After a poor shooting night on Tuesday, Andrew Wiggins bounced back with 28 points, eight rebounds, five assists and another block from behind. Lately he’s been doing all of the little things that make Jimmy Butler real happy, and you have to think the newest Minnesota superstar is rubbing off on AW. Maybe it was the fact that Glen Taylor made him promise to do these things before he formally offered the mega-contract this past offseason. Who knows, right? Either way, I am pleased.
It’s interesting to note that the advanced statistics, or regular statistics for that matter, are still not in favor of Wiggins being improved this year. His PER and win shares per 48 are at career worsts and his three-point and free throw percentage have regressed, but he still seems to pass the eye-test of being better this season.
This was brought up by Josh Clement on the Canis Slack channel and it is perplexing. At least from my point of view, Andrew has looked great recently, even when he’s been off on the offensive end. He hasn’t been perfect, but he’s doing the little things that you see winning teams do. Deflections, steals, blocks, and simple hustle plays are beginning to show up.
It could be that winning can make you analyze players through rose-colored glasses, but the great thing about winning is that it’s winning, it doesn’t matter how you do it.
Tyus Jones had another fantastic start in Jeff Teague’s stead. He tallied 16 points, six assists, four rebounds and four steals while playing great overall defense in a game-high 42 minutes. New Orleans was charging back early in the fourth and he single handedly kept them at bay with big bucket after big bucket.
"We knew we'd be fatigued but we gave away a game last night, had to find a way to get one one tonight,” Jones said after the game. While cliché, you have to love that attitude, and his game high +20 confirms he found a way.
Jimmy Buckets was quite efficient with 19 points on 12 attempts from the field. He’s got to be happy with his team’s defensive effort the last two games.
After it appeared the gas tank was on empty last night, the team refueled and rebounded with a key victory over a New Orleans team nipping at their heels in the Western Conference Standings.
The Wolves travel to take on the struggling Oklahoma City Thunder next, 7 PM central time this Friday.
Now, I have to address something and it’s going to be quite the controversy. In the game thread, I promised I’d take everyone here to yogurt lab if the Wolves won tonight. I will follow through on it, but I have to give a disclaimer that the verbiage clearly shows I would take us all there. I didn’t say anything about buying yogurt lab for everyone. I know, disappointing, but hit me up if you need a ride to the lab.