Well, I’m not really sure what just happened or how they did it, but Minnesota overcame one of the most putrid halves of basketball in recent memory (let me exaggerate) to get a key win on the road.
Really, though, the first half was that bad. It made me very grumpy.
A phenomenal third quarter from Karl-Anthony Towns changed that all around, though. That was a possessed quarter from KAT, and Minnesota needed each and every bit of it. He was dynamic as ever from beyond the arc, but he really got aggressive and asserted himself in the paint. Poor Bruno Fernando had absolutely zero chance.
I don’t want to take too much time talking about KAT, though, because there were so many guys who contributed to a monster second half.
Andrew Wiggins was so steady the entire night. He gave the Wolves a super efficient 25 points, and felt like the calm presence this team needed to stay around tonight.
Josh Okogie was a spark off the bench, causing havoc left and right. He’s one of the most entertaining guys to watch on offense, solely to watch him go and try to get every single offensive rebound. He’s a human pogostick, and his effort tonight was noticeable.
As far as unsung heroes go, tonight really started and ended with Gorgui freaking Dieng and Keita Bates-Diop. Man, G is such an easy guy to root for, and he was AWESOME tonight. He finished with 13 points, making all three of his attempts from beyond the arc. He played great defense too, and his presence really made a difference for a team who badly needed someone to step up. He’s going to keep getting minutes, and he’s certainly earned each and every one of them. Awesome for G.
Then there’s KBD, who’s quickly gone from out of the rotation to a key member of the bench mob. He also gave Minnesota 13 points, adding 5 rebounds as well. He flashed this in the past, but he really looks like a necessary piece to the puzzle. It’ll be interesting to see what his role is like once Jake Layman gets back, but he’s done everything he can to earn regular rotation minutes.
On the whole, this is the type of game that Minnesota really, really needed to win. They started horribly. One of the most disgusting halves I’ve seen in quite some time. They fought back behind KAT and a supporting cast comprised of many holdovers from the prior regime. That was awesome.
The win was as important as it was awesome. If Minnesota really does want to compete for a playoff spot, you cannot lose games like this. It looked like maybe they were going to, and these were the same old Wolves. Then they flipped the switch and took over the game down the stretch.
As fun as that second half was, it should be mentioned just how bad the defense was early in the game. Atlanta ran layup lines the entire first half. I don’t have an exact number, but they had at least 30 dunks in the first. They cleaned it up a bit in the second half, but it still should be noted.
Anyways, a win is a win is a win, and that was a good one led by the franchise cornerstones. Go Wolves.