Prior to the game, Coach Finch was asked about what the key to their recent success has been. The very first thing that came out of his mouth was, “Rebounding.” Well guys, gals, and non-binary pals, the Minnesota Timberwolves would lose the battle of the boards to the Washington Wizards tonight, 39 to 52. The Wizards averaged 9.2 offensive rebounds per game entering tonight’s contest.
They ended up grabbing 14 tonight, which actually looks better than what I saw out there.
Despite getting Jarred Vanderbilt back in the starting line-up today, the Wolves were still unable to match the energy that Daniel Gafford (18 points & 10 rebounds) and Montrezl Harrell (Season-high 29 points on 11 of 12 shooting) had in the paint. The former put a lid on the Wolves basket early, meeting Karl-Anthony Towns at the rim and politely sending him back empty-handed multiple times. Although KAT would start the game 0 for 6, he would quickly find his rhythm in the 2nd quarter, posting 17 points in that period by abusing Kyle Kuzma over and over again.
The majority of the game would be a back and forth affair with neither squad able to truly separate themselves. At one point in the 3rd quarter, KAT would be on the receiving end of a Draymond Green-esque kick in the nether regions, forcing himself to get subbed out of the game. If that wasn’t foreshadowing, then I don’t know what was. Washington would maintain a small lead throughout the 4th quarter by repeatedly pounding the paint with slim to no resistance from Minnesota. On the shots they did miss, as I shared earlier, they would crash the offensive glass hard and generate a multitude of 2nd chance points. It also didn’t help that Davis Bertans experienced his own MPE (Mid-level Player Explosion) by nailing 3 of 4 three point attempts. He was previously 2 of 19 from perimeter heading into tonight’s game.
With 2 minutes and change remaining in the game, KAT would trim a 9-point Wizards lead to just 7 with an uncontested dunk. However, with seemingly no one around him, he would take an awkward fall and crash land hard on his back (Replay here; Watch at your own risk). He would writhe in agony on the ground for some time before limping his way to the bench where he would lay across a bunch of seats, clutching at his tailbone and squirming in pain while the medical staff checked on him. Fortunately for the Wolves, he would appear in decent spirits in a late post game presser where he shared that x-rays were negative, although I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he took at least a couple games off.
KAT on his back: "I feel much better... better than I thought I was gonna feel. I was in extreme pain for sure."— Leo Sun (@Y0Leo) December 2, 2021
The rest of the game was somewhat entertaining, as the Wolves would actually make it a 5-point game with exactly 120 seconds remaining. They would even have 2 straight opportunities to make it a single possession game, but the results were a missed D’Angelo Russell three pointer (He finished 1 of 12 from deep tonight) and a Malik Beasley made three pointer wiped away due to a borderline push-off offensive foul call against him.
With Russell unable to hit a shot tonight and KAT ailing to end the game, there just wasn’t enough juice to pull off a potential “ugly win,” something we’ve become used to seeing from the Wolves. It’s a bit deflating, but this also isn’t the same Wizards team that we’ve seen in the past few years so losing to them isn’t as bad as it may seem to casuals.
This much will be integral as the Wolves face Brooklyn on Friday though: If they don’t crash the boards, they’ll be crashing their opportunity to win the game.
Full game highlights
Omega - Naz Reid
Naz was once again solid tonight. He chipped in 13 points on 6 of 10 shooting, repeatedly showing his touch around the paint against both bigger and smaller defenders. The 3 rebounds leave much to be desired, but this is the type of solid offensive contribution that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from Naz.
Naz Reid crossover + off-hand finish pic.twitter.com/4celcTVnT9— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) December 2, 2021
Delta - Jarred Vanderbilt
Vando was still clearly recovering from his illness tonight. There were multiple times throughout the game where you would see him hunched over ala Michael Jordan, just trying to catch his breath. Still, Vando played 33 minutes in his return while grabbing 12 boards and notching 2 blocks to boot. He “only” grabbed 4 offensive rebounds, but V8 was still a breath of fresh air tonight.
that block by vando.— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) December 2, 2021
ant pulls up from three. pic.twitter.com/mTY79e0Za8
Beta - Anthony Edwards
Today was one of those rare games where you didn’t notice Ant on the floor very often. It was a slow and grimy game after all. There were still a number of moments where he drew the oo’s and ah’s from the visiting crowd as he was creating off the dribble, but more often than not he would leave the shot just short. With all that said, Ant still finished with 25 points (4 of 7 from perimter), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 stocks. That’s starting to become the floor for this young star.
that A1 first step is too quick. pic.twitter.com/0JowfiLpMv— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) December 2, 2021
Alpha - Karl-Anthony Towns
Again, we should all count ourselves lucky that KAT avoided a major injury tonight. The end result of this game could’ve been very different had Towns been able to finish the last 2 minutes of the game. If you ignore his 0 for 6 start, he finished the game with 34 points (11 of 19 shooting), 10 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 stocks. Despite everything he went through tonight, I’m not even going to nitpick his performance.
Minnesota continues their East Coast road trip by visiting the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, 12/3 at 6:30pm CT. The Wolves will need to quickly refocus if they want to stand up to Kevin Durant’s 15-6 team who ranks top 10 in both offense and defense.
Lastly: We must protect the Ant & Vando (Vant? Ando?) bromance at all costs, for have we not learned anything from the squandered Ant & Uncle Ricky relationship.