The return of Karl-Anthony Towns brought a bit of excitement, as it should have, and those good vibes brought Minnesota out to a strong start. The Wolves looked like the total vision Gersson Rosas has for this team, or at least as much as they could without D’Angelo Russell.
The Wolves took a six-point lead into halftime, but Ty Lue and the Clippers made some key adjustments at halftime that propelled them to a fast start in the third quarter. Subsequently, the Clippers won the third frame 33-20, and the Clippers really never looked back.
One of those big adjustment from Lue was to start treating Josh Okogie like Ben Simmons. The Clippers didn’t bother to close out to JO at all, and it derailed the Wolves offense. Ryan Saunders is in a tough spot, because he needs Okogie’s defense, but his offense really killed the team at points tonight.
It does seem like eventually the starting PF spot will be Jaden McDaniels’ who was pretty outstanding tonight. The rookie had four blocks in the first half, and then flashed some really nice passing chops off the dribble in the second half. That pick looks phenomenal right now.
So for the Wolves, yes, this was the same as many other nights in the sense that they lost yet again, but having Karl-Anthony Towns back was truly a great sight. You could tell he was winded in the fourth quarter, but that was mostly to be expected. He wasn’t totally his old self, but he still gave Minnesota 18 & 10. We also have to shout out Towns’ backup, Naz Reid, who actually led the team in scoring with 23 points on 9-13 shooting. Naz has once again shown he’s a legit backup center in this league.
One thing that did stick out to me was the shot distribution. Towns, most nights, will need more than 15 shots. Similarly, Anthony Edwards oddly only got two shots up in the second half before garbage time. I don’t want to harp on Okogie too much, but under no circumstance should he ever be taking 14 field goals attempts in a game.
The Wolves were also quite overmatched when it came to Kawhi Leonard and Lou Williams. Leonard’s physicality was too much for the Wolves, which led to Kawhi pouring in 36, while his running mate Sweet Lou gave the Wolves an effortless 27 on just 15 shots. There are few shots in league as automatic as Williams jumper leaning to the left around the free-throw line.
Ultimately, the framework is there, sort of. The roster clearly has some talented young pieces, but it just never really comes together for a full 48 minutes. Some of that is coaching, the offense is painfully simple, but some of it also falls on the players. There were too many careless turnovers from players like Ricky Rubio tonight which will derail a team without a large margin for error. So, yeah, tonight was the same, but different.