Editor’s Note: While Dane provided an excellent game preview for last night’s game, he made a slight error at the end of his post. He stated “Prediction: Clippers 102, Wolves 87,” where he clearly meant to say “Prediction: Wolves 1,000, Clippers Suck It.”
I do not like the Clippers. I’m not entirely sure why. It could be because I watch too much League Pass and there are State Farm commercials featuring CP3 and DeAndre Jordan times a trillion every night. It could be because of my irrational hatred of JJ Redick and everything Duke (other than Tyus). It could be because, as much as I like him off the court, I absolutely detest Blake Griffin on it. There’s something about the Clips that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve named that bad taste. I call it “Doc Rivers.”
Doc with the Celtics was amazing. I was all in on Ubuntu and getting KG a championship. There was a young (ish), scrappy, defensive minded coach on that staff that I had good feelings about as well. However, as Doc has aged in his Clipper years, he seems to have become more angry, more cantankerous, more get-off-my-lawn-esque, and that attitude seems to have infiltrated his team. Almost every foul called on the Clippers tonight was questioned by CP3 or Blake or Doc. I fear that the Clippers will soon reach a point that Doc just tweets out unfounded claims about refereeing in the NBA and his team will have to back him up on the court and in the press, regardless of how irrational those claims may be.
Yes, I’m aware of how homerish I sound at the moment. Yes, Thibs and his growly foul complaints infiltrate my League Pass audio every night. Yes, Towns does his fair-share of whining and “OH MY GOD” declarations as well, but I have a deep dislike of the Clippers organization, and I will make this narrative fit into my emotionally based opinions.
Okay, good. I feel better now. On to a more positive agenda...
The Wolves won! A must win against a quality (albeit whiny) team, and they looked pretty good in doing so. To go along with the victory, it appears that the Nuggets are going to drop a game against the Wizards, making my playoff dreams become much closer to a reality. With the Trailblazers and Mavericks wins last night, the Wolves desperately needed to keep pace in the race for eight. Faced with an increasingly difficult schedule over the last portion of the season, the Wolves will need to have more nights like tonight to squeak into the playoff picture.
So what were the keys to victory in Minneapolis this evening? Let’s break it down into some key categories:
You, sir, are awesome. 29 points, 14 rebounds, on 14-21 shooting (with 4 of those misses from the arc). Disregarding the threes, KAT was 13-16 for the night, played competent defense against DeAndre, and was at Dante Cunningham levels of put-back dunks:
KAT got into some foul trouble late in the first half, having to sit with three towards the end of the second quarter. I thought that some of his fouls were pretty borderline, but in an effort to avoid being too “Clippery,” I’m going to let the refs do their jobs and not question their calls. In his absence, the Clippers went on an 11-2 run in the last 2:24 to make things close at the half, including this ridiculousness:
Karl-Anthony Towns had his 100th double-double of his career tonight, the second youngest player to do so. He also eclipsed 3,000 points for his career tonight. With Dirk passing 30,000 last night, it caused me to think about how great KAT is already. Dirk has been in the league for 19 years. I’m not a stats guy, but according to my iPhone calculator, that’s about 1,600 points per season. Towns is on pace, dear readers. He’s on pace...
An Adorable Spanish Unicorn:
Something has happened to our adorable Unicorn in the second half of the season. He’s no longer Mr. Change Your Face. He’s got a bit of “Mr. Rubio, if you’re nasty” to him. He was throwing oops, getting into Blake’s face, grabbing CP3, and taking heat-check shots tonight. He doesn’t seem to be playing for the joy of the game in 2017. He’s playing to win. And I like it. Who says that you can’t finish at the rim?
Who says that you can’t deliver highlight-worthy fast breaks?
Who says that you can’t throw the oop like you used to?
Final stat line of the night for Mr. Rubio: 15 points, 12 assists, six rebounds, and two steals. In addition to the tangibles, he was playing his customary solid defense, conducting the offensive like a maestro, and setting a tone against Chris Paul and JJ Redick. I thank the Timberwolves Gods that we were able to watch him tonight instead of Derrick Rose.
Defense: Aided by the Wolves production team, I’m able to deliver the following stat: the Timberwolves have the number one defense in the league over the last three games, actively ignore the 142 point Houston game from last week. Since then, the Wolves have held teams to 88, 80, 97, and 91 points, garnering three wins in the process. Has something clicked? Do we have a Thibs Dust outbreak? I’m no defensive guru and have a hard time telling when it’s the work of the defense or just a poor shooting night for the offense, but we’ve been winning the turnover battle (12 to 16 tonight) and continued to clean the glass (50 to 36 tonight). Let’s hope that these types of blog posts are a thing of the past for Thibs and the Wolves.
Three-Point Shooting: Wait, let me double check the numbers. Oh, yep, my bad, the Wolves were absolutely terrible from the three-point line tonight. Overall, the Wolves shot a hot 5-20 from the arc, with two of those makes coming within the last two minutes of the fourth quarter, however, they were able to overcome the poor shooting from outside with hot shooting on the interior, in transition, and from the charity stripe. With the best three-point shooters sidelined with injury and illness, the Wolves were able to find other ways to score. While they were 25% from three, they were 49% from inside the arc and 90% from the free-throw line.
Overall, it was an incredibly good and satisfying win. The defense looked good, the offense looked good, and the Nuggets dropped a game against an Eastern Conference opponent. Happy times in Minnesota. One can only hope that the good vibes will continue against a tough back-to-back this weekend. Come on Pups. Beat up on those Warriors. Set the tone for round one of the playoffs. We’re coming for you.