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Wolves 107, Jazz 80: All That Jazz

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The Timberwolves showed what they could potentially be against a fully Westbrooked Jazz.

Unicorns, rainbows, and a dominant Wolves win. All should be good and happy in the Vegter21 household, but alas, it is not. Despite watching a game that was essentially over at half-time, there’s a lingering feeling of frustration in my brain parts. It’s a frustration borne out of multiple “what-ifs.”

What if the Wolves were playing this way consistently throughout the season. What if we hadn’t given away so many huge leads early on? What if Thibs allowed the offense to run through the Spanish Maestro all season, rather than putting him in the naughty three-point corner for large stretches of time? What if the NBA could construct a schedule where every opponent has to play the Oklahoma City Westbrooks before playing the Wolves?

I know, I should be joyous. I should be watching highlights on repeat and sprinkling magic, positivity dust all over the keyboard, but watching this Jazz team tonight, I can’t help but think that the Wolves should be in a similar spot in the standings. Or at least quite a bit closer than they are right now.

After the win, the Wolves are now 12 games behind the Jazz and still three games out of the eighth seed. Three games! That’s the Houston disaster, the Philadelphia inbounds plays, and the LaVine miss against Utah away from playoff consideration. I don’t care if it’s the eighth seed. I don’t care that it’s Golden State. They’re down a Durant. At least for a little bit. I want them playoffs!

I need to shoo away these frustration gnats. I need to have a therapy session for my inner Wolves monologue. I need to get back to the optimism and joy that caused me to predict 60 wins during the preseason in the CH chat room. It’s time to focus on the positives.

Defense

Yes, the Jazz did enter tonight’s game after an intense battle with the Westbrooks last night in OKC, however, a certain part of their offensive struggles has to be attributed to the defense put on display by the Wolves. Finally, the Wolves seem to be grasping what is expected of them on the defensive end. Interior defense was generally good, despite a few lapses from KAT, threes were contested, there were consistently two to three players hustling to defensive rebounds, and the Wolves clogged passing lanes throughout the night. They caused 14 turnovers and had 11 steals. That’s to be expected of Rubio and Tyus, however it was Wiggins who led the team in steals for the night. Yes, that Wiggins. Overall, the defensive effort seemed to carry the team, even during their brief offensive lapses. Speaking of which...

Offense

There was a genuine offensive flow tonight. It exists! For the Wolves! I witnessed it! Whether it was the Unicorn or Tyus conducting the offensive orchestra, every member of the team seemed to contribute. There were the usual suspects in KAT and Wiggins, but there were solid contributions from Bazz, Rubio, Belly, and Rush. Here are the stats from some members of the supporting cast:

  • Bazz — 18 points, 7-12 shooting, three rebounds
  • Rush — eight points, 2-3 from three, two rebounds, a block, and intangibles plus 1,000
  • Belly — 13 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two blocks, one sweet hairstyle
  • Rubio — This....

  • Also: 11 points, nine assists, and six rebounds
  • Wiggins - More on him in a bit, but I wanted to note that his shot was off for the majority of the first half. He was settling for outside shots and contested turn-around jumpers. Instead of continuing to settle for these looks, he started driving directly at Rudy Gobert. Doing this over and over again...

Stars

Once again, Wiggins and KAT had massive contributions to the game. My brain is starting to take them for granted because of their consistent performance. I can’t help but expect these type of numbers:

  • Large Feline — 21 points, 9-16, 2-3 from three, 15 rebounds, three assists
  • Wiggins — 20 points, 7-16, 1-1 from three, two rebounds, three steals

Wiggs has now scored at least 20 points in 19 consecutive games, setting a franchise record. Not to be outdone, KAT has 20 points in the last 16 consecutive games, in addition to being the third player in the last 25 years to get at least 115 points and at least 75 rebounds in four consecutive games. KAT now has a double-double is five of his last six halves. That’s right. Five in the last six HALVES. You are an adorable, basketball machine, sir.

Yes, we in the loving den known as Canis Hoopus wish that Andrew would play every game like it was Cleveland/Toronto and KAT would figure out how to be an effective help defender, but to ignore what they’re doing on the offensive end of the court would be a disservice to these young pups. To witness these two, and their continued growth, on a nightly basis should be enough to drown out the frustration gnats. As my man, Jim Pete, said tonight, “If Towns’ defense gets to even half of what KG was on the defensive end, he’ll be a hall-of-famer.” (maybe not an actual quote, relying on my sketchy memory at this point. Don’t elbow me if this is incorrect, Jim)

At a 27-point margin of victory, this is the biggest Wolves win since a 28-point win against the Bulls in January and a 36-point win against Memphis at the start of the season. It was a solid team effort, led by our stars, against a Jazz team that looked off for the majority of the night. Regardless of any other factor, this was a win the Wolves desperately needed. With four wins in five games, we could even say that the Wolves are on a roll.

We’re all on scoreboard watch for the rest of the season. I’ll do my best to curse the Nuggets from Denver, drown out my frustrations, and listen to that sweet, sweet Jazz music. At least for tonight...

Play me off, KAT.