I know many fans would argue that the Wolves would have been better off losing this game to the Memphis Grizzlies for draft position, but obviously that is not the way the players approach things. Instead, the Wolves won on the road for the first time in a month, snapping a nine game road losing streak with a 112-99 win over a similarly depleted Grizzlies squad.
It was close if not exciting in the first half, with the neither team shooting particularly well, but the Grizzlies feasting on the offensive glass. Jonas Valanciunas and Ivan Rabb especially seemed to be everywhere on the offensive boards for the Grizzlies, who took a one point lead into halftime.
The Wolves found their offense in the third quarter, however, and the Grizzlies couldn’t keep up in a decisive 35-18 frame for the visitors. The run was led by Andrew Wiggins, who scored 12 of his 22 in the third and shot 5-6. He got to the rim for several impressive finishes in the quarter, and generally looked more spry than he has most of the season. It was a good night for the embattled Wiggins.
Dario Saric also found his game in the second half after not scoring in the first. He made three three pointers after the break, and added a couple of nifty assists as well. It’s been a tough go for Saric who has not yet figured out how to make the most of his talents with the Wolves (and/or the Wolves have not figured out how to make the best use of Saric.) so it was good to see him contributing to a key stretch in a win.
And of course Karl-Anthony Towns gets third billing because he only went for 33 and 23 tonight. That’s a joke of course, but it’s getting to the point where that sort of performance is not particularly extraordinary anymore. He’s a force.
This was two teams well out of the playoffs nearing the end of the season. There was really nothing to play for, but I appreciate that the Wolves found some energy and desire after halftime and did what they needed to do to win. Mike pointed out Mike Conley in tonight’s preview, and he deserves a nod. What a pro. Played with terrific effort all night, finished with 23 points, was still on the floor late trying to make things happen. We should appreciate his commitment.
For the Wolves, it’s more time to evaluate and develop some of the younger guys. It won’t help the draft position, but I never root for losses.
- All five starters finished in double-figures for the Wolves.
- I thought this was one of the better recent showings for Tyus Jones, who finished with 12 and nine assists. It was a clean, efficient game for him, doing what he’s best at.
- Josh Okogie seems to have found his second wind. He was on Conley for much of the night and did a creditable job, and also scored 17 points of his own. He’s still prone to throwing up wild shots on ill-advised rim attacks, but he got to the line six times and made all six.
- Keita-Bates Diop still looks like he belongs on an NBA team, so that’s good news.
- The Grizzlies were wearing gray and yellow uniforms that made me think there was road work ahead, but Jim Pete seemed to like them.
- Wolves start a four game home stand on Tuesday against the Clippers.