What little shine was potentially on this game at the start quickly faded. De’Aaron Fox, the best player in the game by a wide margin, left early in the first after injuring his hip. It was truly a bummer to see Fox go down from an entertainment standpoint, as he was one of the few available players who could make those “wow” plays. In fact, he made a “wow” play on a beautiful pass to Buddy Hield on the play he got injured.
After that, this game got ugly in a big way. Kudos to you if you stayed awake throughout the entire game.
Anyways, this one can be described simply for Minnesota. They played hard, they competed well, and they still generally played poorly.
Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield struggled a bit with their shots tonight, but Minnesota had a difficult time putting this Kings team away. Neither team shot particularly well, which was to be expected. This was an ugly, ugly game.
For Sacramento, you really have to hand it to Richaun Holmes. He has been awesome for them all year, and he was again tonight. He pummeled Minnesota on the offensive glass on his way to 20 points and 18 rebounds (10 OREB). He was the best player on the floor tonight for either team.
Still, the defensive effort was admirable for Minnesota. Specifically, Noah Vonleh and Gorgui Dieng gave the Wolves a nice boost on the defensive end.
You can tell Andrew Wiggins has embraced the alpha role with Karl-Anthony Towns sidelined, being aggressive at all times. Unfortunately, this is not a role that really fits him, as he shot just 4 for 19 from the field. He’s just being asked to do so much right now. He’s really in charge of getting everyone else open looks, and he has to work so hard to get a good look for himself due to the lack of spacing. Also, in fairness to Wiggs, he got a brutal whistle tonight, much like he always does.
Speaking of the offensive issues, it’s just so apparent some nights how low the Wolves’ collective IQ is on the offensive end of the floor. The team IQ is low in general, but it really shows on offense. This evening, it seemed to be uber-obvious whenever Josh Okogie was on the floor. He’s a fine defensive spark-plug, but man, it seems impossible he’s ever going to be a passable offensive player. Without getting too negative, Jarrett Culver had a similar impact on the game.
One player who had a decidedly positive impact was Gorgui Dieng. He was great tonight, leading the Wolves with 21 points and 15 rebounds. His perimeter shooting seems to be real, which helps make him a more viable option.
Down the stretch, Minnesota really just didn’t have a way to get great looks for reliable shooters. Shabazz Napier got an open look off a botched switch at the end of regulation, but that’s about it.
In general, actually, late-game execution was horrendous. In overtime, Minnesota failed to step up and defend a Buddy Hield pick-and-roll while up three. It went exactly as you’d think it would. This was followed by a few terrible offensive possessions and general wackiness that led to double overtime.
Jeff Teague and Andrew Wiggins led the way in the second overtime period, finally putting away a woeful Sacramento squad. We mentioned Wiggs’ poor shooting earlier, but credit where credit is due, he also posted 10 rebounds and 7 assists. His shot wasn’t falling, but he did what he had to do to get Minnesota a win against a bad team.
The losing streak is finally over. I’m choosing not to comment on just how bad they played at the end of the second overtime, solely because I’m just glad the game has finally ended. Most importantly, the Wolves are finally back in the win column.