Well that was fun. The Wolves got off to a solid start and maintained a lead through most of the game before closing things out with a 113-104 win over the Heat in Miami.
The big story tonight was Karl-Anthony Towns, who absolutely dominated proceedings to the tune of 34 points, 18 boards, seven assists and six blocked shots. It was a complete performance, as Towns scored inside and out, was relentless on the offensive glass, and swarmed the paint defensively. In addition to his six blocks, he was credited with three steals, and was engaged and active every minute he was out there.
Tyus Jones was a rebound away from recording his own quad-nickel starting in place of Derrick Rose (and Jeff Teague.) Jones seems to be finding his rhythm now, and while he didn’t shoot it all that well (5-12, 12 points) he wasn’t hesitant and he ran the team with aplomb. He’s clearly the best defensive point guard the Wolves have, and it made a difference, as the Wolves held the Heat to 41 percent from the field and forced 19 turnovers, five of them Jones steals.
One of the nice things about Jones being out there is that Towns was able to get going in the fourth quarter, something we often don’t see when Derrick Rose is running the show. He had 10 points and two assists in the fourth, beginning his rampage after the Heat had gotten within two with eight minutes left. He made two strong moves to the basket (the second an and-one) sandwiched around a blocked shot, extending the lead to six, the Heat would not get closer than five the rest of the game.
Overall, it was an excellent performance especially on the defensive end for the Wolves. They did a terrific job of stifling the Heat in the paint, jumping passing lanes for steals, and closing out on three point shooters. It was one of the most disciplined and consistent defensive efforts we’ve seen in a while.
Next up: The Pelicans in New Orleans tomorrow.
- Derrick Jones Jr. can really jump. He had a couple of monstrous dunks.
- The Wolves really exposed the Heat’s lack of a real point guard in the absence of Goran Dragic. Forced the Heat into repeated mistakes with the ball.
- Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow combined to go 8-28 tonight; Winslow in particular was obviously frustrated and took some poor shots which landed him on the bench.
- The Wolves recovered from their free throw woes the other night to make 29-36 tonight, over 80 percent.