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Wolves 120, Lakers 105: All Hands on Deck

It took everyone to earn a victory at Staples Center

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

What a game. I don’t want to overreact too much to a victory over the LeBronzo-less Lakers, but that was awesome. The Wolves get a critical win at the Staples Center to get them back to .500 on the year.

Karl-Anthony Towns was the best player on the floor tonight, and it wasn’t particularly close. He was in total control of the game all night long, finishing with 27/12/5/1/2 on 10-18 from the field and 3-5 from three. His gravity on the offensive end, especially in the post, created opportunities for the entire team.

His improved passing has become the norm now. I feel strange even referring to it as his “improved” passing, because it is a nightly occurrence now for him to post solid assist numbers. Towns was also extremely disruptive at the rim, and his block total does not do justice to his rim protection prowess he displayed.

While Towns was surely the best player on the floor, Andrew Wiggins was the clear number two tonight. He finished with 23/8/3/2 on 9-23 from the field, but his raw numbers do not show how impactful he was, particularly down the stretch.

In the 4th quarter, Point Wiggins was unleashed once again. This resulted in Minnesota building up a 10 point lead before Karl-Anthony Towns re-entered the game about midway through the quarter. He was aggressive all night, which is evidenced by the 5 offensive rebounds he snagged. The Wolves are a different team when he plays that way. He did some Wiggins things.

After Towns and Wiggins, much of the credit has to go to the end-of-bench players. Jerryd Bayless was thrust into playing 30 minutes after Derrick Rose was ruled out with an ankle injury, and he responded with 16 points and 8 assists.

Then there’s Luol Deng. Once seemingly left for dead, Deng came up huge with 7 points, including a timely corner three to extend their lead. For a wildly depleted squad, Deng filled in admirably.

The other guy who came up big time was Jarred Terrell, who came into the game in the 3rd quarter and drilled two three pointers that built the lead.

Taj Gibson was among the largest of the unsung heroes, as his 10 rebounds (4 offensive) were monstrous. I mentioned in the preview that this is one of the rare matchups where Taj would have an advantage on the glass, and he showed out for me tonight.

The other guy that deserves a ton of credit for this win is Ryan Saunders. He was dealt a crumby hand tonight, and he came away with the victory. Every button he pushed worked out perfectly. I was skeptical of him at first, but he’s definitely got something going here.

The moral of the story, is that this was a TEAM win all around. From the stars to the role players, everyone did their job tonight. Once Rose exited the game for good after the first, the Wolves were down four of their most important players. It didn’t matter.

Everyone stepped up and fought to build a lead against a desperate team in their building. They fought in every sense of the word. The Wolves played as hard as I’ve ever seen them play, which led to 22 (!!) offensive rebounds that led to a whopping 32(!!) second chance points. That was the difference in the game. The Wolves got themselves 15 more field goal attempts than the Lakers, and they made them pay.