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Wolves 119 to Wizards 104: The KAT and the Spaniard

Ricky Rubio and Karl-Anthony Towns led the Wolves to a dominant win over the Wizards

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Spaniard: Ricky Rubio had 22 points tonight on 8 of 15 shooting from the floor and set a new franchise record (breaking his won record) of assists in one game with 19 assists.

The KAT: Karl-Anthony Towns had 39 points and 13 rebounds, while making all three of his threepoint attempts.

Rubio also did this, amidst his first quarter where he had 10 assists, and the Wolves opened the game 41-23.

Saying Rubio had a masterful game does it a disservice. He was a maestro, seeing the entire court at all times, and pacing the Wolves. He was unafraid to seek his own shot, whether pulling the trigger on threepointers, taking mid-range jumpers of the dribble, or driving into the lane. He played relatively good defense against John Wall, as well as one can play defense against a locomotive barreling full-steam ahead, and finished with three steals. None more important than a steal in the fourth quarter that Rubio turned into an easy layup as he picked off an outlet pass.

Towns, Rubio’s counterpart in this game, dropped 39 points with relative ease on 17-26 shooting while not reaching the free throw line until near the game’s conclusion. Somehow, Ian Mahinmi fouled out, mostly guarding KAT, while never sending KAT to the free throw line. Towns’ diverse offensive skillset was on full display, from turnaround jumpers with a Dirk-like fadeaway, tough shots at the rim, and quick pull-up jumpers on pick-and-pops. In a game where Rubio broke the franchise record for most assists in a game, Towns was continuing to set his own of 21 games with 20 points or more. It is absolutely insane that sophomore phenom can score 39 points simply in the motion of the offense with few isolation sets. Towns and Rubio were playing a fantastic two-man game all night.

Now the Wizards did not go quietly into the night, astounded by Rubio’s flashy passing or Towns’ offensive dominance. After a disastrous first quarter for the Wizards, they clawed their way back to an 8-point deficit at halftime and hung around all game until the last two minutes. The game was legitimately in question when John Wall went to the free throw line with about 3 minutes left, missing one free throw, but bringing the game to within five points. After the Wizards recent last-minute heroics in their previous overtime victories, anything felt possible.

However, a couple of back-breaking KAT threepointers later, as well as a loose ball foul on the Wizards that sent Bjelica to the free throw line, the game was over.

The Wizards were able to maintain relevancy throughout the game due to the aforementioned runaway train that is John Wall. He was dominant, even against the good defense that Rubio was providing. Wall was a one-man fast break, getting to the rim with ease and drawing fouls all night, ending with 14 free throws on 19 attempts. The Wolves only attempted 22 free throws all game to Wall’s 19.

Bradley Beal chipped in 20 points, albeit on 7-21 shooting, although he certainly looked like he could get past Brandon Rush whenever he wanted. The rest of the Wizards were relatively quiet, with Otto Porter adding 11, Markieff Morris with the same, and Bojan Bogdanovic has 12 off the bench.

On the Wolves’ side, Gorgui Dieng and Nemanja Bjelica both has really solid nights, with Dieng adding 10 points and 9 rebounds and Bjelica with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Bjelica, in particular, had another solid game, with important playmaking on a bench unit that was sorely lacking.

Speaking of the bench, they were stunningly awful. Tyus Jones had yet another rough game for the most part, Shabazz couldn’t get buckets, which doesn’t kind of is his deal, and Kris Dunn had one of his roughest games. I believe both of Dunn’s fouls were weak And-One fouls, one of which gave up a four-point play on a Bradley Beal three. He had several lazy turnovers and seemed to be constantly gambling on defense.

Andrew Wiggins had another quiet game, seemingly cooling down after his previous hot streak. He simply looked out of sorts this game and couldn’t get it going till the last minute when he blocked John Wall’s shot then hit a jumper at the top of the key. Wiggins finished with 15 points on 5-15 shooting.

While KAT had the big stat line, this game belongs to Ricky Rubio. It has been easy to be effusive over Ricky’s recent stretch, as he has been playing what is likely the best basketball of his career, but I cannot but belabor just how amazing Rubio was in this game. The astute Jim Peterson has been oft saying that this is a new Ricky Rubio that has been leading the Wolves over the past month or so, and after he has led the Wolves to victories over the Wizards, Clippers, and Warriors in about a weeks-span, one would be hard-pressed to find a person who disagrees.

I’ll let Thibs’ play us out. Can’t help but think this reaction was due to the Spaniard.