The Timberwolves used a huge fourth quarter run to break open a close game at Target Center and defeat the Charlotte Hornets 121-104 and move their record over .500 for the first time this season at 13-12.
It was another game that required a comeback from a double-digit deficit, something that hopefully is not necessary too often, but the Wolves were equal to the task for the second game in a row. The first key stretch of the game was the last four minutes of the first half. The Wolves found themselves down by 15 and looking discombobulated when Andrew Wiggins took over:
Wiggins three pointer
Wiggins monster put back slam
Towns three pointer
Rose layup, Wiggins assist
Rose layup, Wiggins assists
Those are all the Wolves baskets in the final four minutes of the half as the Wolves roared back to within two points, and Wiggins’ fingerprints were all over it. It was, in fact, one of the more inspired halves of basketball I can remember from Wiggins, who had 16-5-4 at halftime. He was the key factor in making it a game at halftime, and injecting the Wolves with some confidence and swagger.
The second half was a back-and-forth affair until Karl-Anthony Towns checked back into the game with just over eight minutes to go and the Wolves down 96-93. He went on a personal 7-0 run, sandwiching two post buckets around his fourth three pointer of the night. From there, the Wolves defense, Towns, and Robert Covington dominated proceedings. When the smoke cleared, the Wolves had gone on a 22-2 run, there were three minutes left, and the game was over.
It was a monster game from Towns at both ends of the floor. He finished with 35 points, 12 boards, six blocks, three assists and two steals, and showed some of the best movement and rim protection on defense that we’ve seen from him, especially in the second half. Overall, the defensive effort was once again excellent in the second half after a first half in which Wolves turnovers led to a bunch of easy baskets for the Hornets. In the first half, the Hornets had 17 points off 10 Wolves turnovers and shot 53 percent from the field.
In the second half they scored just seven points off Wolves turnovers, and shot 16-51 from the field, or 31 percent. That resulted in only 40 points in the second half after a 64 points first. Over their last two second halves, the Wolves have given up 69 total points to the Rockets and Hornets.
Offensively, the Wolves remained hot in the second half from both inside and outside the arc, finishing 53 percent from the field and 12-24 from three. Except for a stretch in the second quarter, the Wolves were moving the ball well, finding cutters and open shooters, and finished with 34 assists on 48 made baskets, a high number for them. Jeff Teague led the way with 18 assists.
It was another excellent win to end this home stand. I don’t generally use words like this, but the Wolves are showing a spirit and determination that seems much different than anything we’ve seen in the recent past. They are playing unselfishly, working defensively, regrouping when necessary, and playing a tough, smart, and entertaining brand of basketball.
One little play in particular caught my eye, and I wish I could find video of it. Happened at the 5:30 mark of the third quarter. Robert Covington scored on a driving layup, but lost balance and fell out of bounds on the baseline. The Hornets were about to get a 5-on-4 the other way, so Towns, seeing this, calculated it was worth gambling for a steal on the inbounds. He actually got the steal and got fouled, but I thought the quick thinking and decision making was most impressive.
These last three weeks have been terrific fun for Wolves fans, and let’s hope it continues as the team heads out on the road.
- Wiggins finished with a season high 26 points, six boards, five assists.
- Derrick Rose, after a quiet game against the Rockets, had 16 off the bench.
- Robert Covington was fantastic again creating havoc. 17 and six doesn’t begin to tell the story. After getting into first half foul trouble, he was all over the place in the second.
- Wolves begin a four game road trip in Portland on Saturday.