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Wolves 115, Pacers 114: Ummm, Yay?

Wolves survive Paul George and the Pacers in Indiana

There are two schools of thought on how the Timberwolves should be finishing up this season. One, go into full tank mode, give the starters some rest, and attempt to move up in the mock draft boards, or two, try to end the season on a winning note, build upon the soon-to-be-winning culture in Minneapolis, and continue to develop our future stars.

I’m firmly planted on the fence. It’s painful. Fence sitting, that is. But I can’t seem to decide which direction I want the Wolves to head into on a nightly basis. Especially when I’m writing the recap.

Throughout the course of this game, I alternated between fist pumps when KAT was making shots, and shoulder shrugs when Paul George was going off. It was ambivalence at its finest. My heart always wants a Wolves victory but the logical part of my brain keeps pulling me back to the reality of where the team finds itself at this late stage of the season. Logic and emotion were having a bear fight inside of my brain, and I still can’t figure out which side won.

The Timberwolves, however, definitely did win tonight thanks to some late-game heroics from the refs and some solid foul shooting from Karl-Anthony Towns and Ricky Rubio. Down 114-110 with 40 seconds left to play, Towns was fouled by Thaddeus Young and promptly dropped two free throws to end his night a perfect 10-10 from the line. A broken offensive set by the Pacers at the other end led to a Towns rebound and a foul on Ricky from beyond the three point line. Ricky, who is on a 46-in-a-row technical free throw streak, calmly made all three with 3.4 seconds remaining to end the night perfect from the stripe with thirteen makes.

Overall, the game was pretty sloppy. The Wolves ended with fifteen turnovers versus fourteen for the Pacers and fouls were prevalent throughout (Wolves 37 attempts versus 35 for the Pacers). Yet, somehow, the Wolves were able to pull out the late game and late season win. I guess that I should be excited...

As discussed in the preview, potential All-NBAer Paul George has been a tough matchup for All-Cornrows member Andrew Wiggins on both ends of the court, and tonight was no different. I decided to pay close attention to this throughout the game, especially when I took a peek at Wiggs stat line at the close of the 1st. Quarter by quarter breakdown....GO

  • 1st Quarter:

-Paul George: 13 points, 4-6 shooting, 3 boards, 2 steals

-Andrew Wiggins: 2 points, 1-7 shooting, 2 boards, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 1 foul

  • 2nd Quarter:

-PG: 12 points, 4-6 shooting, 3 board, 1 assist

-AW: 3 points, 1-2 shooting, 1 board, 1 turnover, 1 foul

  • 3rd Quarter:

-PG: 8 points, 2-4 shooting, 1 board, 4 steals, 1 foul

-AW: 6 points, 2-5 shooting, 1 board, 1 assist, 2 turnovers

  • 4th Quarter:

-PG: 4 points, 2-5 shooting, 3 boards, 1 assist

-AW: 6 points, 2-3 shooting, 1 board

The Timberwolves were able to slow the freight train that is George after half time, but it wasn’t before he dropped a final stat line of 37 points, 12-21 from the field, 9-9 from the free-throw line, seven rebounds, two assists, and four steals. I love Wiggs, I love his changing hairstyles and eye for ridiculous fashion, but he still has a far way to go before entering the conversation with players like George. I’m hoping that he’s posting pictures of Paul George all over his vision board tonight.

Other News and Notes:

  • Karl-Anthony Towns continues to beast. He ended the night with 37 points on 12-22 shooting, 10-10 from the free throw line, and 12 rebounds. There were several points throughout the game where it felt like if KAT wasn’t on the floor, the Wolves had no hopes of scoring on the offensive end. Additionally, KAT seemed to start getting some calls as the game was winding down. Notwithstanding the first three quarters, where he was regularly accosted on his way to the rim, he appeared to get “star” treatment in the fourth. The last call drawn by Towns on Thaddeus “I’d run over my grandma” Young didn’t look as severe as some of the others earlier in the game. Those kind of calls are coming as KAT continues to blossom. I can feel it.
  • Spanish Basketball Messi was aggressive yet again. There’s not a shot on the court that Ricky doesn’t like. Let it fly you adorable unicorn. Get those contract incentives. Ricky ended the night with 21 points, going a perfect 13-13 from the line and dishing out ten assists. He may have had five turnovers but I’m going to blame that on unsuspecting pass recipients as my Rubio-colored glasses are as rosy as ever.
  • Kris Dunn had a brief moment of brilliance in the second quarter and a pretty solid game overall. His defensive prowess was on display for much of the evening, getting into multiple passing lanes and harassing the Pacers on the perimeter. He ended the night with nine points, but didn’t miss a shot, and gathered four steals and three blocks. He probably should have had double that number of steals but gave away multiple interceptions at the last moment. He and Tyus also did this (love the midair call-out):
  • Gorgui logged the most minutes of any player on the court tonight with 44, but he made the most of his time. 19 points, 8-13 from the floor, 2-3 from three, and six rebounds. Gorgui was solid especially at points when it appeared that the Pacers were going to break things open. “Clutch Three Gorgui” should probably catch on.
  • Shabazz Muhammad was especially quiet tonight, logging only nine minutes and scoring only two points. I’m guessing that his head may not have been completely into the game.

Even after watching and recapping the game, I still can’t figure out how to feel. In the end, I’m going to focus on the present and savor it. It was a good win, against a good (albeit injured) team. I’m getting off that fence in favor of winning, dear readers, at least for tonight.