It was shaping up to be the perfect storm for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Former Timberwolves disappointment, Andrew Wiggins, got the national nod as an all-star game starter over the likes of Defensive Players of the Year, Rudy Gobert and Draymond Green, as well as a pair of Wolves, Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns. The latter two had to wait just 2.5 hours before they could prove in a nationally televised game that they deserved the spot over Wiggins.
Ever heard of plot armor?
Apparently, neither did the Wolves tonight. Though they did come out of the gates firing, sprinting out to a 8-point lead on the back of Towns, their flame started to dwindle the later the game progressed. The Warriors single-coverage defensive game plan on Towns was exploited early and often by Coach Chris Finch, as KAT cakewalked to a 23 point, 7 rebound, 2 assist, and 1 steal half. His season-high for points in a half helped the Wolves build a 61-57 lead going into the break. Not to be forgotten was the defensive effort and hustle from Jarred Vanderbilt, who finally enjoyed some national recognition, as he often annoyed and frustrated Steph Curry. They enjoyed a 6 to 15 foul advantage and worked the paint area/free throw line.
Jarred Vanderbilt disruptive defense on Steph Curry pic.twitter.com/5WGcuPb1As— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) January 28, 2022
Then the 3rd quarter.
As we’re so often used to seeing this season, doom awaited around the corner. The perimeter shooting, which was a putrid 4 of 21 (19%) in the 1st half, technically improved to the tune of 6 of 23 (26.1%) in the 2nd half. The big difference though was that the Warriors were able to slow down KAT while maintaining their own exquisite outside shooting. In comparison, they went from 9 of 18 (50%) in the 1st half, to 12 of 18 (66.7%) in the 2nd half. The combined 0 for 13 three point shooting by Jaylen Nowell and Malik Beasley was just insult on top of literal injury. D’Angelo Russell, who took a slightly awkward spill in the 1st half, was unable to play more than 2 and a half minutes in the 2nd half, as he exited the game with what the team called a “Left Shin Contusion.” Neither Coach Finch nor Towns had any information regarding this in their post game pressers.
KAT's response to my question about if he had a chance to talk to D'Lo regarding his shin injury. pic.twitter.com/dbujFH4WT4— Leo S (@Y0Leo) January 28, 2022
The Wolves were able to make the game somewhat interesting with a 4th quarter surge. They would get within 5 points with 5:17 remaining in the game, but that was quickly extinguished by - you guessed it - Curry and Klay Thompson three pointers. Ant padded his stats by repeatedly slithering into the lane, finishing with a surprising 19-point quarter, but the game was never truly contested. The Warriors danced and celebrated their way to a victory as the Wolves headed to the airport to face their next opponent at home tomorrow, the 1st place Phoenix Suns.
Coach Finch on Ant's late surge: "As you saw, when (Ant) attacked them, we got the rim pretty easily. He in particular waited too long to do that."— Leo S (@Y0Leo) January 28, 2022
Omega - Jaden McDaniels
Lost in the mostly lousy Wolves performance tonight was Big Mac having another solid outing. He was also partially assigned the impossible task of guarding Steph Curry at the point of attack throughout the night, yet he still had an admirable effort. Perhaps just as important was his efficiency on the offensive end, posting 14 points (5/8 FG), 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block. He’s going to have his hands full once again tomorrow against the likes of Chris Paul and Devin Booker, but his continued progression is a key X-factor towards the Wolves run for the postseason.
Jaden McDaniels spin + finish pic.twitter.com/7KOC7Pvgfd— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) January 28, 2022
Delta - Anthony Edwards
Coach Finch verbalized what most of us probably thought as we watched the game. Had Ant only attacked the rim earlier in the 2nd half, especially in D’Lo’s absence, it would’ve likely made a difference in the result of tonight’s game. KAT had put the Warriors only center, Kevon Looney, into foul trouble early (4 in the 1st half), so Ant should’ve had an all-you-can-eat point buffet in the restricted area as he did in the 4th. Black Jesus, who was maybe more like Black Moses tonight, was due for an off-night from perimeter. However, the budding
all-star MVP still finished with 27 points (8/18 FG, 9/9 FT), 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 blocks.
pushin' the pace.— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) January 28, 2022
Wolves on a 10-0 RUN pic.twitter.com/UpeLphz96F
Beta - Jarred Vanderbilt
What more can you say about this man? As mentioned earlier, I’m just happy that Vando’s intensity and impact on the game is finally on full display for the world to see. When he was diving all over the floor, I was about ready to get off my couch and start running lines until my overweight butt collapsed. Vando finished with 9 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals, and hopefully 1,000,000 new fans. “Hardest working player in the league, Jarred Vanderbilt.” - Reggie Miller, 2022.
RT IF YOU LOVE VANDO'S ENERGY! pic.twitter.com/Fu6zzZT2IU— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) January 28, 2022
Alpha - Karl-Anthony Towns
If the name “Karl-Anthony Towns” is not announced whenever the all-star reserves are unveiled, then I’m officially convinced that we’re living in a simulation where the goal is to commit as many heinous crimes against the Minnesota Timberwolves. KAT got plenty of positive acknowledgements from the TNT crew tonight, all well-deserved. He was a beast and deserved
better shooters around him a better outcome tonight. Towns finished with 31 points (12/22 FG), 12 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals.
The last time the Wolves were on the tail end of a road-road back-to-back, they were unable to overcome the Atlanta
Zebras Hawks. Their streak of losing the second game of these scenarios is currently at 28 games. They get a chance to break this curse against... *checks notes* the NBA best Phoenix Suns on Friday 1/28 @ 8:00pm CT. Looks like that is going to be a blood bath... for Phoenix!