Just 24 hours after the Timberwolves and Spurs slugged it out, it was announced that both teams would be missing their best players for round 2. Karl-Anthony Towns was rightfully out due to rest after his heroic return, 4 weeks earlier than anticipated. DeMar Derozan, who torched the Wolves for 38 points on just 23 shots (0 three pointers!), would understandably be out to tend to his ill father. We here at Canis Hoopus send our best wishes and a speedy recovery to Mr. Frank Derozan. In a time filled with so much chaos and death, it’s always important to keep perspective on what’s important.
Things looked good for the Wolves to start the game. The shots were dropping thanks to D’Angelo Russell. Did he finally learn how to effectively carry this Wolves squad on the scoreboard?
It appeared we were in for another night with “Bad D’LO” (From now on known as BDLO). Man, I hate BDLO! More on that later. Unsurprisingly, tonight’s game ended up taking a different tone than Saturday night. Gone were the real offensive stalwarts of both teams, in came the defense. Or maybe both teams were just allergic to scoring. Chicken or the egg here. However I will say that it was a pleasure watching a backup unit featuring Ricky Rubio, Jarred Vanderbilt, and newly activated Josh Okogie. Boy have I never seen the Wolves play better defense than that in a long time.
The VandOkogie pair is legit. Look at this effort! pic.twitter.com/tFRj4Woi1V— Drippy Rubio (@Y0Leo) January 11, 2021
That unit was able to hold the Spurs scoreless for a 4:46 span. Although I love me some defensive highlights, my favorite play of that span was a Ricky Rubio post-up on Dejounte Murray. Behold!
Per my game preview on Saturday, I intelligently noted that Lonnie Walker IV was going to have a MPE. Well, he really put pressure on our bigs on his way to a 22-point half (25 on the night).
2⃣2⃣ at the half for Lonnie Walker IV!— NBA (@NBA) January 11, 2021
: NBA LP pic.twitter.com/3eFDdMwMfd
Although the Spurs were playing sloppily on offense, the Wolves rebounding was not to be outdone. There was a sequence at the end of the 2nd quarter where 2 Wolves fought for a defensive rebound and ended up knocking it out of bounds. On the next play, off a Spurs missed shot, no Wolves player decided to grab the easy defensive rebound likely due to the previous snafu and it resulted in a shooting foul. After Trey Lyles missed the second freebie, the Wolves once again whiffed on the rebound which would result in a Rudy Gay made jumper to end the half.
End of the 1st half, the Wolves gave the Spurs 3 cracks at points. The result?— Drippy Rubio (@Y0Leo) January 11, 2021
A Trey Lyles free throw and Rudy Gay made jumper. pic.twitter.com/MMrGoo3fPS
Third time’s a charm, no? More on the rebounding woes later.
HT: Spurs 49, Wolves 44— Jack Borman (@jrborman13) January 11, 2021
Walker IV: 22 pts on 8/14 FG, 2 ast, 1 stl
Murray: 7 pts, 3 ast
Aldridge: 6 pts, 7 reb, 2 ast
Beasley: 12 pts on 5/9 FG, 3 reb
Russell: 10 pts on 3/10 FG, 3 ast
Reid: 5 pts, 4 reb, 1 ast, 1 blk
Full stats: pic.twitter.com/oCvxDWq4QJ
The Wolves would stay afloat in the 3rd primarily on the continued hot streak of Malik Beasley, as he would channel his inner Lonnie Walker. Gregg Popovich would counter by finally unleashing his LaMarcus Aldridge left block post-up game plan. Aldridge would score 10 of his 20 points in the 3rd period alone, terrorizing Naz Reid. Overall, it would be a 1990’s slog for both teams in that ugly quarter (22-20 scoring). The scoreboard would show a nice 69-66 Spurs lead heading into final period.
MB5MB5MB5— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) January 11, 2021
Remember how I was talking about that guy, BDLO? Well, BDLO would help extend that deficit to 9, as he appeared completely unaware of how to lead a team other than in field goal attempts. Just when it looked like it was time for me to start digging up “moral victory” talking points, things would take a turn when Beasley would get a generous foul call in his favor after a missed 3-point shot.
I really thought this was a turning point in the game. It should've been a Beasley turnover, but resulted in 3 points and 3 team fouls for the Spurs. pic.twitter.com/avF4LEVW7A— Drippy Rubio (@Y0Leo) January 11, 2021
That would be the 3rd team foul and just a few seconds later, they would enter the bonus with a whopping 8:08 left in the game. Just as all professional athletes do, Russell took note of my cries for leadership and helped a Wolves procession to the charity stripe. Russell would notch a team high 10 points in the 4th quarter. Having to try and play defense with their hands tied behind their backs, the Spurs youngsters who were previously punishing the Wolves on offense seemed affected. Their uneven play with draw the ire of Pop as they watched their 9-point melt away.
Minnesota mounting a charge, and Pop was GOING AT Keldon Johnson as players walked to the bench— jace frederick (@JaceFrederick) January 11, 2021
Much like Saturday, it would still be a back and forth affair in the closing minutes. The Wolves would have a great opportunity to the push a small lead to a 3 possession game, but in true Wolves fashion, Okogie would miss 2 free throws followed by a Wolves foul before a Spurs inbound, effectively making it a 3-point swing to make it 88-92.
Remember when I astutely wrote “More on the rebounding woes later” earlier? The Spurs would get 3, nearly 4, “team rebounds” to cut the lead to a single possession game. However the Zebras would come in to save the day once again!
End of regulation, the Wolves had to secure a rebound. The Spurs, again, got 3 cracks at it. The result?— Drippy Rubio (@Y0Leo) January 11, 2021
Two referee reviews, second in Wolves favor. pic.twitter.com/qBcnQdtdjH
Russell and Rubio would ice the game with a few free throws and just like that, the Wolves are right back in the playoff picture! Okay, not really, but it was certainly refreshing to change that 2 in the win column to 3. The last time we had a win was last year, for Christ’s sake! I also smartly predicted the the Wolves would win Saturday night if Towns was out, but would lose with him in the line-up. More like Miss YoCleo, amirite???
The game ball has to go to my guy, and personal friend that I met 1 time for 3 minutes, Joshua Aloiye “Nonstop” Okogie. Although he had a pedestrian box score line (7 points, 4 rebounds, 1 block), he impacted the game in a way the Wolves have been missing from the SG/SF position. He closed the game and his presence alone disrupted the Spurs enough to help the Wolves get the win tonight.
Was able to cap off a successful Vegas Summer League trip by gettin' some face time with @CallMe_NonStop! Super humble dude and I'm pumped to see him get some mins this year (right Thibs??) pic.twitter.com/zWmMO2g7F8— Drippy Rubio (@Y0Leo) July 8, 2018
WOLVES ARE BACK!
Full game highlights:
Feels good to be back.— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) January 11, 2021
DLo - 27 pts. / 5 reb. / 5 ast.
Malik - 24 pts. / 3 reb.
Naz Reid - 11 pts. / 7 reb. pic.twitter.com/WZvuEN5AUg
- Ed Davis had a valiant effort out there tonight. He was able to get out there and do some good work on Aldridge. He was a +9 tonight in just 18 minutes.
Underrated performance tonight?— Alan Horton (@WolvesRadio) January 11, 2021
How about Ed Davis.
18 MIN | 6 PTS | 6 RBS | 2 STLS | 3/3 FG | +9
And the go-ahead bucket midway through the 4th. pic.twitter.com/8NqvyWRz3H
- Ricky Rubio continues to be a leader. He wasn’t perfect tonight (no one was), but he was engaged with every teammate tonight, even during dead ball situations. He had a 8/2/6 night, and his 3 steals led the team.
Russell on synergy w/ Ricky Rubio: "We're all just a 3-headed snake trying to come to 1. Ricky might have an opinion, coach might have one, just try to dissect the game. We need to have a great finish product at the end. I'm always learning from (Ricky) so I'm always listening."— Drippy Rubio (@Y0Leo) January 11, 2021
- I just have to say, again: The VandOkogie pairing is flynning awesome to watch!
- Anthony Edwards had his first real “rookie” game tonight, going 0 for 8 in 17 minutes. He looked like he had tired legs out there and his first back-to-back was hopefully another learning opportunity for him.
- Jake Layman wasn’t in the rotation while Juancho Hernangomez was a team high +16 in 27 minutes, yet I hardly knew he was out there. Do with that information as you will.
- For as frustrated as I get with D’Angelo Russell the basketball player, he is a very smart and well-though-out individual off the court and I couldn’t express my support for him more. In the postgame presser, he was asked about what happened in the country’s capitol last week. After deliberately asking 5 different members of the media (All Caucasian) who were logged in, he shared his opinion. It’s worth reading over (I’m also an awful stenographer so I know I missed a few things or might have a few things paraphrased inaccurately) as we all keep prospective about what’s important in our world. I will say this a million times on any platform I have: “BLACK LIVES MATTER.”
"It brought eyes to the unfairness of where we're living in this country. I will say that with all this going on, it's triggered a lot of attention to this topic in general. It's allowing us to set back and think about how we're going to respond as a nation/indiv/etc... https://t.co/xXKqRx0cmU— Drippy Rubio (@Y0Leo) January 11, 2021