After a tough overtime loss to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night, the Minnesota Timberwolves bounced back in Detroit, staving off the Pistons with a 120-114 win.
With their legs surely heavy and an opponent who had beaten them in the last eight meetings, the Wolves could have easily succumbed to their fate and let the Pistons run over the top of them. On the contrary, they played one of their best games of the young season and proved they are capable of winning in any circumstance.
So what stood out?
It’s honestly hard to talk about anything else at this point. With Wiggins Watch flicking into double-digit games, the seemingly transformed Canadian was stunningly good once again. He finished the night with 33 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, a block and a steal while shooting a sizzling 12-20 from the field and 3-5 from long-range.
The same kinds of increased productivity that we have seen all season was on show again. He has eliminated the majority of those pull-up long-twos that we have become accustomed to seeing. He is getting into the paint at will and making unseen bullet passes to open shooters. And he is taking and making a decent helping of triples.
Even if he can sustain 75 percent of this hot-streak he is going to have himself quite a season and the team outlook is going to change dramatically. With some other teams in the Western Conference failing to fire early, Minnesota need to ride this Maple Jordan stretch for as long as they can.
Long live this version of Andrew Wiggins.
While Wiggins has been electrifying crowds all around the country, Karl-Anthony Towns had hit a bit of a lean patch. He admitted so himself after the Denver loss, stating his touch was off and he didn’t know when it would be coming back.
Well, it didn’t take long. Towns wasn’t at his most devastating, but he was certainly still a handful for Detroit and his touch looked silky and smooth once again. He ended the night in Motown with a cool 25 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 blocks, hitting 10 of his 17 total field goal attempts and 4-7 from behind the arc.
If Towns manages to start really clicking while Wiggins is as well, the Timberwolves offense could become seriously dangerous.
Law of Averages
For the bulk of the 10 games thus far, Minnesota has been a disaster from deep — even if the system dictates that they continue to shoot them in high-volume no matter what.
The putrid shooting came to a head against Denver, where they shot 6-45 (13.3%) from deep. However, the law of averages came around and gave the Wolves a boost in this one. The 34 attempts were down on the season average (40.3) but the 15 makes (12.4) and 44.1 percent clip (30.8) were way up from what we’ve seen so far.
Over half of the success came in the first quarter, where Minnesota made a scorching 8-10 3-pointers, including a combined 6-6 from Wiggins, Jake Layman and Robert Covington. After that, the 7-24 was reminiscent of the Wolves we’re used to, but the fast start was enough to buoy them through the night.
We won’t see that kind of shooting every night. We probably won’t even see it once a week. So enjoy it while you can.
Despite his inability to consistently connect on 3-pointers, Josh Okogie has clearly made strides into a respectable offensive player this season while still maintaining the defensive energy that endeared him to fans during his rookie season.
However, he couldn’t string together that two-way play in this one. Okogie struggled to make an impact at all offensively, contributing just 2 points and 3 turnovers while failing to make any of his 4 field goal attempts.
Thankfully, he excelled in his defensive role. He was tasked with guarding and slowing down Derrick Rose and did so with great effectiveness. Coming in to the game, Rose was averaging 20.8 points and 6.3 assists on 56.2 percent shooting coming into the game, but Okogie held him to just 6 points and 5 assists on 3-13 shooting.
With his tremendous defense, Okogie can impact the game on even the most silent offensive nights.