Hey there Canis Hoopers!
Enjoying the KATharsis? How intense! What suspense!
The Wolves roared and scored from the opening tip, swarming the Bucks with pack tactics on the defensive end. But the mighty Bucks stood their ground, and upon the Wolves, Giannis Antetokounmpo did pound, with many a mighty slam and jam! Down the stretch, it seemed Wolves fans would be in for another devastating disappointment, but instead, we may have watched Sir Anthony Edward’s anointment. As an NBA superstar, of course.
Losing to the Pelicans at home last game obviously made our heroes ashamed, and they were determined to reclaim respect on the Timberwolves’ name. After their victorious effort, Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards both spoke about practicing with the intensity necessary to make winning their propensity.
This game is quite the story, layer-by-layer, so maybe we should break it down player-by player:
The last two games, D-Lo seemed a step slow, but against the Bucks, De’Angelo Russell was determined to put on a show. Scoring or assisting on 15 out of the Wolves’ first 19 points, D-Lo led the team to a 19-10 advantage, and a lead they would never surrender. If I recall correctly, it actually should have been 17 of the first 19, but Russell was not credited with assisting Vanderbilt’s jam after they both displayed remarkable hustle and muscle to force George Hill into a turnover.
Russell led the Wolves with 29 points, hitting tough shot after tough shot, along with a trio of treys. My personal favorite D-Lo bucket was against 6-8 Jordan Nwora. With 3 minutes left, he hit an amazing swoopity-doopity scoop shot to put the Wolves up 108-97:
After D-Lo’s initial show, Ant and Towns showed that they were also ready to go, both breaking double figures in the first quarter. Together, they ran the pick and roll with such orchestration, it resulted in the Bucks frustration, as Ant hit a beautiful pull up jumper with no hesitation. Along with a pair of deep threes, Ant shot 6 frees, showing a determination to drive and thrive.
Down the stretch, the Wolves got tight, and it seemed that the Bucks would rally to ruin their night, but never underestimate Anthony’s will to fight! Never say that the Ant can’t!!! Because he did! After Khris Middleton made a ridiculous fadeaway to cut the lead to a single point, Ant would not disappoint. The wolves spread the court and Ant went to work, penetrating and devastating against the Bucks defense for an amazing basket, powering through a Khris Middleton foul with a victorious wolf howl!
Though Ant hit the winning shot, to assign any particular Wolf the majority of the credit is something I cannot. Each of the Wolves’ triumphant triumvirate made an incredible contribution. Karl-Anthony Towns made it a point to play calm, and under control. In the first quarter, when the whole pack had the knack, KAT was perfect, hitting three shots from the field, including two 3-pointers, along with three free throws. Towns finished with 25 points and 5 assists, shooting 70% from the field and 80% from the free throw line. He struggled a bit with turnovers, and had another offensive foul, clearing Pat Conaughton out with his elbows after a rebound. To his credit, Towns displayed a remarkable control of his emotions, accepting all of the referees’ calls with an assurity to display his maturity. Many times during the game, Karl and Giannis went mano a mano, but the Big KAT would never think to shrink!
Chris Finch noted that KAT was drawn away from the hoop, explaining his total of 3 rebounds, but the other Wolves big men pitched in to hoard the boards. Jaden McDaniels and Jarred Vanderbilt, Big Mac and Vando, put on another exhibition of fire and desire, combining for 24 rebounds. Even though he didn’t always get the ball, Vanderbilt’s will to give it all dropped my jaw with awe. The Wolves committed to team rebounding, ‘bounding and astounding the Bucks, beating them 49-43 on the boards.
Though the Bucks put up quite the fight, the Wolves refused to lose, and became the first Bucks opponent to lead wire-to-wire in Milwaukee in 130 games! To be fair, the Bucks were missing two stalwarts with heart, Brook Lopez and Jrue Holiday, without whom the Bucks could never have won their championship. But, despite the Wolves’ 20 point lead, Giannis and Khris did all they could to give the Bucks a chance to succeed.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, The Greek Freak, led all scorers with 40 points, and all rebounders with 16, whilst racking up 7 assists and 3 blocks. But it was his shooting that did knock off my socks! It seems that Giannis may be adding a new dimension to his game, which is already the most dominant in the NBA. Giannis shot 65% from the field, hitting three of six 3-pointers, as well as other mid to long range shots. And, brutally spinning and winning against KAT, Giannis unleashed an attack worthy of prime Shaq:
This game was an early season classic, and it is a shame that the entire nation could not watch this sensation! Even the post game moments were quite the delight. Giannis and Karl embraced and exchanged jerseys, coming correct with much mutual respect.
The interviews were almost as entertaining as the game. Complimented on his composure in the video above, KAT initially bristled. “I think fans get the wrong impression. I’m playing with fuckin’ passion. That’s what I play with.” But then, he acknowledged his effort to play and lead with intelligence, “And also, I understand these guys see the way I act is the way they wanna act, so I got to be very quiet, I guess you gotta say, but uh, just keeping us all together, doing everything I can from a mental and physical standpoint, basically, I let my game talk for myself.”
Commenting on his embrace and jersey exchange with Karl, Giannis said, “Great guy. I respect his game, and love what he’s about.” “I’m a collector,” he continued, “I collect jerseys, and I didn’t have his jersey. I think Thanasis took Anthony Edward’s jersey, and I didn’t have the chance to grab it, but we play them again. I just love basketball. Collect jerseys. Collect cards. Collect magazines and stuff like that, so I think it was an opportunity for me to get his jersey, signed.”
It is tough to find a more likeable athlete than Giannis Antetokounmpo. Confidently excelling in English, Giannis’ Greek accent is quite amusing, but never confusing. He has become a remarkable leader for a man his age. “I don’t want to be treated any different from the rest of the guys,” Giannis explained. “I want to be coached. I want to get better. I want to ascend . . . I’ve told him, coach me hard. If I’m not playing well, take me out. If I do something wrong, call me out on it. I believe if I’m able to take it, on this team, everbody’d be able to take it.”
Anthony Edwards echoed Giannis’ sentiments, and he seems to be becoming one of the NBA’s leaders and most likeable players as well, in only his sophomore season. Edwards delivered gem after gem, and is proving to be an interviewer’s delight, night after night.
Referring to KAT, D-LO, and himself, Ant said, “All 3 of us are willing to take criticism, and take it the right way, not the wrong way. And grow. And that’s great.”
When asked what was going through his mind on his game clinching basket, Ant replied, “Get a bucket, Ant. Get a bucket, fo’ sho’.” “I had it then, and DLo was comin’. S’like bruh, just go on. I got it. Let me be a closer, too. Fo’ sho’.”
On the Wolves’ swarming pack tactics, Ant declared, “Man, we lock up, man. I don’t care what nobody say, we play the best defense in the league. I stamp that.”
When asked how he makes sure the team brings the same energy, every game:
“Talk my shit, before the game.”
As for the Wolves’ reserve and resilience:
“Pat Bev said at shootaround, ‘Man, they the defending champs. Ain’t a call they not gonna get.’ So, we just came together like, we ain’t gonna cry today.”
On Jarred Vanderbilt:
“He’s my favorite player on the team. He helps us . . . I can’t even describe it. I just love to see him succeed.”
And my personal delight of the night was when Ant’s face lit up while listening to an Irish interviewer ask about Giannis’ mojo:
“With a guy like that, you can’t stress about him scoring, that’s just what he gonna do. I mean, muh’fuckas 7’2”, 280 pounds. Like, ain’t nothin’ you can do. Like, shit, we put like 4 people on him. My boy still score the ball. He’s amazing, man, Ain’t nothing’ I can say about him. He’s unstoppable.”
Indeed, the Wolves played against the best. If not the best team, due to its missing stars, they definitely faced the best player in the world, and he brought it with all his might, but gloriously, Minnesota prevailed tonight!
Canis Hoopers, The Falling Knife Brewery Company, at the edge of Minneapolis and Saint Paul is the coolest new place I’ve been this fall! It may very well be THE best Timberwolves fan hangout in the Twin CIties! Replete with many of their own delicious brews from which to choose, the bar is decorated with wolf artwork, and one of the friendly owners I met, my main man, Dan, was wearing a unique, custom printed t-shirt of a slammin’ & jammin’ kitty KAT in a Timberwolves jersey! Best of all, they have many pinball machines to enthrall, highlighted by the classic NBA Hangtime pinball machine, with announcer Tim Kitsrow, whose name you may recall from his NBA Jam fame. They also had a brand new Godzilla machine that is not even officially released yet!
These brewers have great taste, whether you are talking about their brews, NBA crews, or the games they choose. Stop in, and tell ‘em Clyde sent you!