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Wolves 112, Knicks 110: A Big Win In The Big Apple!

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at New York Knicks Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Wow, Canis Hoopers!

What an exciting and delighting showdown! Not only did the Timberwolves prevail in a regular season classic, but now you also get to experience the joy of Clyde’s commentary. Check out the videos in this recap to hear the Real Deal! I apologize in advance for not editing them more, but getting them to you in high quality took a bit of work as it is.

The Knicks came into the game a bit tired, having lost at home to the Hornets yesterday, on MLK Day. They seemed determined to redeem themselves, and were bolstered by the return of Kemba Walker, who has a history of playing well in return-from-injury games when he’s had time to rest.

The Wolves were obviously excited to prove their recent success has been no fluke, and they began the game in a hurry, burying threes in a flurry like the brothers Curry. Meanwhile, led by Patrick Beverly’s propensity for intensity, their canine defense hounded, pounded, astounded and confounded the Knicks into commiting 8 first quarter turnovers.

The Wolves were able to smile and laugh all first half. Malik Beasley, who’s been making Wolves fans temperamental with play that has been detrimental, finally got hot and started making some shots. Beas knocked down a pair of threes, going 3 for 3 in the second quarter.

Evan Fournier was raining and draining shots all night, finishing with 27 points. He hit 10/17 from the field, including 5 3s, and helped the Knicks finish the first half only trailing by 10 points.

The second half was a different story, and the stakes were glory or purgatory! Both teams played with such effort and intensity that, no matter what, for the loser, this loss would sting like hell. Suddenly they began to pick up the slack, as all of the Knicks had the knack. The tide turned in the battle of the ‘Cats as Kentucky alumnus Julius Randle was astounding and rebounding, posting and toasting, exhibiting hustle and muscle, skill and will, and the fire and desire to win, as he mauled and appalled the Wolves on both ends of the court in the second half, stuffing the stat sheet. Finishing with 21 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals and 4 blocks, Randle battered and shattered the Wolves’ big men in the post, getting to the line 11 times.

Jumping off the bench like a bat-out-of-hell, Jalen Nowell’s play was quite swell, and he kept the Wolfpack in the hunt with 11 4th quarter points.

Down the stretch, the game became a bit of a comedy of errors, as both teams combined for 8 turnovers, many of them coming in the last few minutes. Kat even blew a wide open, cherry-picking layup with just under 3 minutes to go and the Wolves trailing by 2.

But, just when all seemed lost for the Wolves, coach Chris’ consequential challenge changed the contest’s conclusion. With less than a minute to go and a one point lead, RJ Barrett drove the lane and D’Angelo Russell stripped the ball away (and probably got away with an uncalled foul). The ref’s call was Knicks ball. Chris Finch had previously resisted the lobbying of Patrick Beverly to challenge a first half foul on Jaden McDaniels, saving it for just such an opportunity.

A huge rule change for this NBA season was that questions of possession in the last 2 minutes of games would no longer be automatically reviewed. The change was partly because the rule slowed down and drained the intensity from the end of games. But more importantly, the rule was changed because it was sort of unethical and nonsensical. Skillfully and stealthily stripping the ball downward in order to obviously bounce the ball off the offensive player is one thing, but when an aggressive defender slaps the ball away from someone and it goes out of bounds, 99.9% of the time, an impartial referee will rule it off of the aggressive defender, and award the ball back to the offense. I agree with that. It makes sense. As a player, that is what I would expect. BUT . . . the letter of the law is that the last player to touch the ball is responsible for it going out of bounds, and with the aid of super slow-motion replays, reviews can reveal incidental contact to the ball by the offensive player.

Anyhow, regardless of how you feel about the way reviewing calls affects the game, Finch’s timing was brilliant, and it set up a chance for KAT to get another at-bat. Clutch Karl totally redeemed himself by towering and overpowering Julius Randle, driving and thriving as he hit a game clinching and-one. The Knicks had the final possession and a chance to win, but KAT and Big Mac attacked and jacked Evan Fournier’s driving junk away, leaving Alec Burks with a long-distance desperation heave that did not achieve.

Ask Batman - it isn’t easy to get a win in Gotham City against the Penguin and his henchmen! Against former coach Tom Thibodeau, Chris Finch and the Timberwolves got a big win in the Big Apple! These are fun days for Canis Hoopers!

Clyde’s Aside:

This was a really well officiated game! As Mike Breen mentioned to me, since only two games were played on Tuesday, the NBA was able to assemble a very experienced crew. The lead official, Ed Malloy, does often annoy ol’ Clyde, but tonight, he was quite alright. It really seemed the refs cared to be fair. Let’s hope this is the beginning of a trend, friends!