MINNEAPOLIS — With an ailing Ant-Man sitting out the second half with a sprained right ankle, his superstar partner in crime hit clutch shot after clutch shot down the stretch to save the Wolves from a sour defeat in front of a wild Target Center crowd.
“You got the All-star nod, show ‘em. Show the world,” Patrick Beverley told Karl-Anthony Towns in the second half when they needed him most. That’s exactly what he did. He carried them on his back to an overtime win, 126-120.
While the offense was sluggish through the first three quarters, and the defense wasn’t any better as Charlotte pounded them on on the interior, Towns eventually took matters into his own hands. After being down by 13 points with 9:55 minutes left, 19 of his 39 points came in the fourth and overtime. It was a sensational showing—he crushed Charlotte with big-time threes, free throws, and everything in between. With each bucket down the stretch, the crowd intensified like D’Angelo Russell asked for.
“I called, they answered,” Russell said after the game of the fans. “They were amazing tonight.” D’Lo got his wish for a wilder home arena after calling out ‘quiet ass’ fans following a win over the Pistons earlier this month. He showed up for his postgame presser tonight with a special game-ball dedicated to them.
“It was electric, it was electric. I appreciate y’all. I actually brought y’all the game ball, so anybody that’s at home, this is not for me. This is for all the fans that came, all the fans in the living room, all the fans on Twitter, everything. We appreciate y’all and we need that every game. You see what happened when they all were here. We got the win, so appreciate y’all. It was nice.”
D’Angelo Russell brought this for the fans and said they all get the game ball tonight. “How about our fans, they were amazing tonight.”— John Meyer (@meyerNBA) February 16, 2022
“I called, they answered.” pic.twitter.com/abti3z46n3
Wooooow game ball to you fans that had your living rooms and Target center rocking tonight.— D'Angelo Russell (@Dloading) February 16, 2022
LaMelo Ball (22 points, 9 rebounds, 6 dimes), Miles Bridges (28 points, 13 rebounds, 7 dimes) and Mason Plumlee (almost a triple-double with 12 points, 14 rebounds, 9 dimes) all had both had packed stat lines, but the Hornets couldn’t stop Towns down the stretch.
“I felt like I was hitting green on 2k,” Towns said of his clutch 3s. “He put us on his back. He was an All-Star tonight on the floor and dominated the game, and we win when he does that,” Russell said of the performance.
This was a dominating Towns performance, a complete takeover by him after the team limped into the final 12 minutes, right up there alongside some of the greatest games of his career. He said teammates, especially Anthony Edwards as seen in the video below, were telling him he had to get up to 40 points. Just one more free throw. But Towns didn’t “give a rat’s ass about 40,” and said multiple times in his media availability that he only cares about winning and ultimately that’s all that fans care about too.
“Karl gets great stats but they lose,” said Towns. “That’s always been the MO. That’s no more. I want to win. I’ve always wanted to win. But now I’ve got to find ways how to put those stats to translate to winning. I think I’m doing a much better job of that than ever.”
nobody's more hype for KAT than Ant pic.twitter.com/Gz7wYUvBSH— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) February 16, 2022
Jaden McDaniels also played one the finest games in his bright young career. His ceiling is so high, nobody can actually see it. Most importantly, he’s also gaining confidence in his abilties. “He’s just growing and growing for us every day. He’s fun to watch right now. He really is,” said coach Chris Finch. “He was outstanding on both ends of the floor. You know, made timely plays, big baskets, kinda just made something out of nothing at times when we had nothing else going. He did have the big pass and the big play to [Jarred Vanderbilt] late on the weak side.”
Russell has often praised McDaniels over the first two seasons, always believing and preaching that he is the real deal. “The sky is the limit for him,” Russell said once again. “He’s a quiet guy, but he’s a guy who looks up and might have dominated that game. We talkin about the Ant’s and the KAT’s and myself, but he’s a valuable piece for us.”
The quiet youngster is putting the work in and the results speak for themselves. McDaniels has all the goods and they were on full display both ways as he stepped into Edwards’ place when the Wolves needed someone to step up. Of course, Jaden wasn’t boisterous in the postgame spotlight. “Kinda just bring that spark,” he concluded. “Like anyone else, just coming in, just trying to do little things. Play off the defense and get deflections. Just make open shots.”
Ultimately, the Wolves added another would’ve lost this game in previous seasons to their growing list this season. It’s what good teams do. The find ways to dig out of the mud, as some of the players like to say. This was their seventh straight win at home, and as Russell said, the building was indeed electric. A playoff-type atmosphere as McDaniels said, even though he quickly noted he’s never been there before.
“Winning basketball changes everything,” said Towns. “It really does.”
That applies to the fans and the energy inside of Target Center as well.