After trailing 17-2 at the 8:46 mark of the first quarter, the Wolves tightened the screws for remainder of the game; Minnesota won the final 44:46 by a tally of 117-84, which included holding the No. 3 offense in the NBA entering the game to just 41 points in the second half.
Especially when you consider that Luka Dončić started the game 5/6 from the floor for 12 points with a pair of assists during that 17-2 run to open the game, that defensive effort from the Timberwolves was nothing short of impressive. Minnesota held Dallas to an 89.3 offensive rating in the half-court, which ranks in the 28th percentile among NBA teams this season according to Cleaning the Glass.
The Timberwolves’ defensive performance caught the eye of Mavericks Head Coach and Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Jason Kidd.
“It’s one of those nights. When you look at the guys that got looks, they didn’t go down for us tonight. Minnesota is the best team in the league, ” Kidd said postgame, adding that the Mavs thought they played well.
I’m not sure if I would classify a 33-point swing in three quarters and change playing well, but Dallas was missing star guard Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry, Josh Green and Maxi Kleber, so maybe that factors into Kidd’s evaluation of how the short-handed group played in their third game in four nights.
A key part of that turnaround was supercharged sixth man Naz Reid exploding for 27 points, which included a career-high seven 3-pointers. Two of those seven came while Dončić was guarding Reid, and the four-time All-NBA First Team guard took note.
“I think if there was one x-factor [it was] Naz Reid. He’s an amazing player, man, and he hurt us today,” Dončić said. “He’s been hooping.”
That had to have meant a lot to Reid to hear such staunch praise from one of the NBA’s best offensive players, who surely won’t be the last to recognize what No. 11 in white and blue is doing for the Timberwolves this season.
After the game, Reid was interviewed by The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski, who was filling in on the Bally Sports North broadcast for Lea B. Olsen and Katie Storm (who became a mom this week!). Reid confirmed what he has said multiple times this season — everybody is food.
that's every night. ️ pic.twitter.com/y4P0zIxSFn— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) December 15, 2023
Reid is averaging a career-high 13.4 points on 50.0/39.1/91.7 shooting splits to go along with 4.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.6 blocks in 22.3 minutes per game across 23 appearances. His 3-point percentage (39.1% on a career-high 4.8 attempts per game), free throw percentage (91.7%) and minutes played (22.3) are all career-bests.
Lately, the beloved big man has improved upon his season averages. Over the last five games, Reid is averaging 18.4 points on a team-high 14.5 field goal attempts while maintaining 49.3/38.9/100 shooting splits, as well as 7.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.4 blocks.
Next up for Reid and the Wolves will be a Saturday night home matchup with the NBA In-Season Tournament darling Indiana Pacers, who will first play in Washington, D.C. against the Washington Wizards on Friday.
It should be another good matchup for Big Jelly, as no team allows more points to opposing power forwards than Indiana. Fans can catch the 7 PM CT tip on Bally Sports North.