After successfully winning games in back-to-back nights for the first time all season, the Minnesota Timberwolves traveled down south to Oklahoma City to square off against a Thunder squad missing practically half of their roster. If you’ve been following this franchise long enough, you know that Friday night was set up perfectly for a standard Timberwolves-style letdown against a team that was a double-digit underdog.
Nevertheless, New Wolves > Old Wolves.
Jokes aside, it’s damn near impossible for me to find any nits to pick from the Timberwolves 37-point victory against the Thunder on Friday night. Minnesota did start out of the gates a *tad* slow, actually trailing OKC 34-32 after the first quarter.
But after that, it was ALL Timberwolves ALL night, with Minnesota outscoring the Thunder 106-67 over the final 36 minutes as they secured their third straight victory and improved to 35-29 on the season.
With Anthony Edwards out of the lineup for the second straight night due to left patella tendinopathy, Chris Finch called upon his bench to help replace some of ANT’s production, and boy did they ever. All nine bench players saw action on Friday night, with Naz Reid pacing the reserves with 20 points on a perfect 8-8 shooting (including 2-2 from deep). Not to be outdone, Taurean Prince chipped in 18 points and Malik Beasley connected on 5-of-10 threes to add 15 points.
Overall, Minnesota’s bench combined for a whopping 74 points, and actually outscored the entire OKC team over the final three quarters of the game:
The Thunder scored 67 points over the final three quarters of tonight’s game.— Kyle Theige (@KyleTheige) March 5, 2022
During that same span, the Timberwolves BENCH scored 69 points.
It was a rare “podium game” for Naz Reid, who talked postgame about how close the Timberwolves are not only on the court, but OFF the court as well, and specifically credited Taurean Prince for his veteran leadership and helping the younger players be in the right spots to succeed. Naz also pulled no punches when it came to how much confidence the team currently has in their second unit:
Naz Reid on the Timberwolves bench: "We all feel like we're the best bench in the league."— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) March 5, 2022
One last note on the bench — any time you blow out your opponent by 30+, the odds of the head coach emptying the ENTIRE bench is pretty high, and that was the case again tonight with both Leandro Bolmaro AND Nate Knight getting some run late in the fourth quarter. Why is that noteworthy? Well, because those two guys played on the same court just hours earlier when they suited up for the Iowa Wolves in the G-League:
Couple final notes, bullet point style:
- It was a “quiet” night for Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell, as the duo combined for just 37 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, and 6 steals. Neither guy played more than 25 minutes, which is not only refreshing, but also important when you consider the Wolves have a tight turnaround for their matchup tomorrow night at Target Center against the Portland Trail Blazers.
- While his performance will likely be just a footnote in yet another OKC loss, I did want to take a second to simply say this — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a damn wizard. The 23-year old dropped an effortless 33 points on 66% shooting, getting to the rim whenever he felt like it. I know the Thunder are currently in a pretty hefty rebuild, but I truly love watching SGA play and hope that he gets an opportunity to play meaningful games sooner than later, as his list of skills is about as long as his last name.
- Last but not least — a major announcement: Leandro Bolmaro can now shoot:
Good luck to the rest of the NBA.
It’s Friday and the Wolves won by about as many points as the Oklahoma City Thunder have future draft picks. Vibes are good, wine is better, let’s have a weekend.