Well, the first quarter was fun, right? Minnesota opened the game well, led by Ricky Rubio who had eight points in the first frame.
The fun didn’t last long, though, as the defense eroded in the second quarter and Minnesota lost reach of the Clippers. All of my notes for the second frame are some variation of “Player X (take your pick) guarding Lou Williams is a disaster.” There were at least three names you could fill in there, but it really was Lou who killed them. By halftime, Williams had 15 points and 5 assists on 5-for-6 shooting. Between Jake Layman, Malik Beasley, and Anthony Edwards, it was rough guarding the league’s premier bench scorer.
Essentially, this game was over at halftime just like Sunday night. The Los Angeles teams are obviously extremely talented, but that’s still pretty disappointing.
Expectations were low with Karl-Anthony Towns out, but still, I hoped the game would be more competitive than this. The game was even less competitive than the final score would indicate. On that note, here were my takeaways:
- In his first stint of games that matter without KAT, D’Angelo Russell is not doing much to find himself in the good graces of Timberwolves fans. Not being Andrew Wiggins can’t be your most redeeming quality on the court. Russell is playing embarrassingly bad defense, and he has not been nearly dynamic enough on offense to make up for it. He needs to be a lot better over this upcoming stretch. The same can be said for Malik Beasley
When only one of DLo, Beasley and Edwards were on the floor, the Timberwolves' offense just completely deflated.— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) December 30, 2020
Problem is the defense can't stay afloat with two-or-more of them on the floor.
There just isn't enough offensive or defensive support around them. Kinda broken...
Timberwolves hide DLo on Batum— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) December 30, 2020
Batum posts up
Batum posts up again
Naz helps DLo
Naz’s man (Serge Ibaka) cuts
- Anthony Edwards can really score, but one of his pre-draft concerns did show up tonight. Edwards was again a bit too reliant on his jumper than driving to the rim. Specifically in the first half when the game was still relatively competitive, Ant took 6 shots, with none coming at the rim. He hit a few threes, but there were also a few spots where he settled. He really does look the part of a future 20-25 ppg scorer in the future, but the coaching staff will need to work with him on getting to the basket.
- Minnesota really just can’t survive any minutes from Layman or Juancho Hernangomez right now. They are hurting this team badly every time they’re on the floor. Minnesota sort of made it work with Josh Okogie playing the 4, but it’s once again obvious how badly they need a real PF.
- Jarrett Culver’s hot shooting to start the season has evaporated. He really struggled once again, shooting 0 for 10. Yikes. If there’s a positive to take from the game for Culver, it’s that he did a relatively adequate job on Paul George and stayed active on the glass (10 rebounds) even while his shot wasn’t falling.
- Two guys who fly under the radar for the Clippers but are really nice players are Ivica Zubac and Terrance Mann. Both players looked really solid tonight. Zu hammered Minnesota defenders on screens and on the glass the entire night. Mann plays a more limited role, but is a strong defender and playmaker with the ball. Those are the fringier (Mann moreso than Zubac) that are fun to watch during the regular season.
- I’m not entirely sure what to make of a handful of garbage time minutes, but I am intrigued by Jarred Vanderbilt and his activity level. Given how terrible things have gone at the 4, I’d like to see him get some real minutes here or there. Even if it’s just one short stint once a game, I think it’d be worth it while KAT is out. He quite literally cannot be worse than Juancho has been.
- More than anything, life without Karl-Anthony Towns is once again going to be hell. This team just does not have enough talent without him to compete. Take it easy and get well soon, Karl.
Lastly, shout out friend of the program Jim Pete.