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Nuggets 133, Wolves 107: Road Woes Continue

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Minnesota’s defense was once again absent on the road

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

If you stayed up late enough to watch this whole game, kudos to you. You probably spent much of the game watching on mute, which is really the only way to survive a “Players Only” broadcast. I made it roughly halfway through the first quarter before hitting the mute button. Jim and Dave, we missed you tonight.

The Wolves, predictably, struggled mightily on the defensive end of the floor again. Once again, it was the same issue that has plagued Minnesota: the three-point line. They allowed open looks from deep all night long, and it ultimately doomed them. The Wolves had given up an average of 132 points over their past 5 road games, and they held up to that standard tonight.

In particular, they really let Jamal Murray and Paul Millsap get going. The two combined for 53 points on 18 for 28 from the floor and 8 for 11 from beyond the arc. Throw in the 18/8/7 that Nikola Jokic added as well as Monte Morris’ efficient 16/5/6 off the bench, and it was a terrible defensive performance by Minnesota.

While Minnesota did struggle mightily, Denver still deserves quite a bit of credit for their performance. The way that they move and cut off of Jokic and Mason Plumlee is really something to watch. There’s never a moment that you can stand still on defense against them. You stop moving your feet for a second and you get back-cut.

For the Wolves offensively, it was Karl-Anthony Towns and then not a whole lot else. Towns poured in 34 points on 14 of 25 shooting, including a few highlight dunks.

Beyond Towns, Tyus Jones was the next highest scorer, putting in 16 points on 7 for 10 from the field. If Tyus can score in an efficient manner on a consistent basis, the outlook of the Wolves future changes quite a bit. It’s important that other teams have to respect Tyus scoring ability.

Keita Bates-Diop only scored 9 points on 10 shots, but just evaluating his game on that alone would be doing him a disservice. He made several other smart, heady plays. He’s going to be a rotation player for this team moving forward.

As for the other rookie, it was a rough night offensively for Josh Okogie. He looked like he did more often in the early part of the season: frantic and out of control. He’ll have games like that, and that’s okay. This team isn’t winning anything this year anyways. It will be important, however, that he works on his offensive game in the offseason to be more consistent on that end of the floor.

Besides Towns, the bright spot for the Wolves tonight had to be Cam Reynolds. On his second 10-day contract, Reynolds is making a case for having a spot on this roster moving forward. That jumper of his is legit, and he showed a capability to play solid team defense. He deserves as more playing time, and the Wolves would be wise to give it to him to get a longer look at what he might be able to provide.

In the end, the fact that players like Luol Deng, KBD, and Cam Reynolds have proved to be positive contributors around KAT only makes Andrew Wiggins’ lack of impact more damning. I don’t mean to be a wet blanket, but it really becomes more obvious with each game he misses. No, it didn’t go the Wolves way tonight, but there is such little difference whether he is in or out of the lineup compared to these rookies and G-Leaguers is painful to accept.

On a more positive note, our friends over at Denver Stiffs might be on to something: