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Wolves 110, Pelicans 96: The Big Easy Win

Minnesota’s defense extends their win streak to 4 as they dominate New Orleans.

Minnesota Timberwolves v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Game Story

I could’ve just embedded that one tweet and left that as the entire recap.

Sure. The Minnesota Timberwolves were playing the (then) 3-15 New Orleans Pelicans who, as Kyle Theige mentioned in his preview, are one of those few teams who are more dysfunctional than our beloved Wolves. However, even after that 43-point drubbing of the Memphis Grizzlies, who knew that Minnesota was capable of stringing together TWO of these types of performances in a row?

As a (constant) doubter of the Timberwolves, I’ll gladly be the first to admit that the feeling of hope has started to stir within myself as I watched Jarred Vanderbilt successfully scratch and claw his way to a number of offensive rebounds all night. The energy that both Patrick Beverley and Vando bring in the starting lineup has proven to be the necessary jolt that has shocked the Wolves defense into consistency. Meanwhile Karl-Anthony Towns, who had previously been bullied by Jonas Valančiūnas twice this season, came on a mission. He marched out to score 8 of the Wolves first points of the game by constantly attacking off the dribble, which would be foreshadowing of what was to come. He got JV into foul trouble early and his sub, Willy Hernangómez, was equally ineffective in stopping Big KAT. Towns would finish the first half, with 23 points. The reason for his aggressiveness?

Help was also on the way, as Headband Jaden McDaniels continued to make his impact felt on both ends of the court. As we had expected for him to be heading into this season, he was in all the right spots on defense while acting as an important pressure release on offense. I asked him postgame about the most important wrinkle of all:

As the Wolves entered the 2nd half up 66-50, Jim Peterson pointed out that this was the first time this season that Minnesota swept the first half Four Factors. Would Willie Green’s Pelicans adjust? As either Jason Hart or Garrett Temple yelled out after giving up yet another Vando offensive rebound just minutes into the second half:

“Come on man, this is embarrassing!”

Sorry Pels fans.

As Valančiūnas drowned further in to foul trouble, the Wolves were able to grab a stranglehold on the game, extending their lead to 26 points in the 3rd quarter. Perhaps most notable was the fact that the Wolves weren’t relying on a hot shooting night, as evidenced by their final shooting splits (.400/.227/.714), but instead hung their hat on their stifling defense. They forced New Orleans into 21 turnovers (14 steals) and were contesting the majority of their 3-point attempts (6 of 32). Although the putrid offense allowed the Pelicans to cut the deficit down to 15 early in the 4th, a 12-point Anthony Edwards explosion quickly slammed the door shut.

That’s 5 games in a row that the Wolves have held their opponents to under 100 points.

Now I know why they call New Orleans, The Big Easy.

Full game highlights

Pack Leaders

This is a new addition to my game recaps where I’ll be awarding individual honors for the night. Since I know KAT & Friends read every CH article, let me clarify: Each game will result in a “Omega,” “Delta,” “Beta,” and “Alpha” honor for the 4 most standout players of the night. Those 4 terms are referencing the ranking order/system of wild packs of Wolves, from bottom to top (According to Google). We’re all #RaisedByWolves, after all.

Omega - Jaden McDaniels
The Silky Headband Big Mac man was great tonight. Jaden has struggled throughout the season with foul trouble, but as evidenced today, if he’s able to avoid the Zebras ire then he will absolutely impact the game positively. McDaniels finished the night with 10 points (4 of 7 shooting), 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, and awareness that he’s now a meme.

Delta - Anthony Edwards
As mentioned above, Ant didn’t make his (offensive) mark on the game until the 4th quarter, but if you’ve been a Timberwolves fan long enough since a few weeks ago, it was impossible to not to feel some fear when the lead was slowly melting away. Enter: Ant Man, who demonstrating once again that all he needs was a few minutes of game time to show the world that he’s “that dude,” as the kids say. Edwards finished with 18 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals, and 1 block.

Beta - Jarred Vanderbilt
What can you say? I asked KAT after the game about what it was like battling someone like Vando in practice every day and he was brimming with pride about his fellow frontcourt partner. He called Vanderbilt one of the best hustle men in the NBA, and tonight was just another example of that. As usual, Vando was everywhere and was a big reason why Jonas ended up in foul trouble in the 2nd quarter. Jarred ended the game with a double-double, season-high 16 points, 11 rebounds (7 OREB LOL), 1 assist, 2 steals, and 4 of 5 free throws made. From now on, I declare that the Lithuanian center most forego the nickname of “JV” to the man from Minnesota.

Alpha - Karl-Anthony Towns
KAT, always a player who takes specific matchups very personally, put on a show today in New Orleans. It wasn’t his most efficient night, but it was one of those games where there was 0 question that he was the best player on the court. 28 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block seems so pedestrian now that it’s more of a testament to his greatness. Caffeinated KAT is forever now the move.

What’s Next

World domination?

I guess the Wolves will first need to return home to host our favorite Miami Heat (11-6) team on Wednesday at 7:00pm CT, led by General Soreness himself and his super friends. This will be a quick pitstop at home before they hit the road for a 2-game road trip out East. Extend this 4-game win streak to 5, baby!