The Start - Starting the Minott Mower
Both the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz entered the game missing key starters in Wendell Moore Jr. (Left knee soreness) and Ochai Agbaji (Back spasms), but it took mere seconds for viewers to forget about that. That sound you’re hearing was the revving of Josh “The Lawnmower” Minott.
START US OFF, JOSH. pic.twitter.com/J2zHJZiW96— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) July 11, 2023
That thunderous alley-oop finish led to another massive jam by Minott just a couple possessions later. On the defensive end, he took on the difficult assignment of Utah’s rookie (First pick of the Rudy Gobert trade to convey), Keyonte George, who was fresh off a 33-point explosion in his Las Vegas Summer League debut. George was able to get loose for a few early buckets, but found himself exposed on the defensive end as Brandon Williams (17/2/7) continued to treat him like a practice cone, using his blazing speed to score a team-high 8 points in the first quarter. Fortunately for the Jazz, the rest of the roster was locked and loaded from perimeter, knocking in 5 triples in the quarter as Minnesota was scoreless from perimeter. However, the Wolves remained in striking defense largely because of...
The Meat - Leonard Miller vs. Keyonte George
Leonard Miller scored in a variety of ways on the floor. A little fadeaway mid-ranger. Driving and finishing through contact. He was even the player who drained Minnesota’s first three pointer of the game in the final minutes of the first half. He was impressive on offense while being a wrecking ball on defense, contesting and diving all over the court to wreak havoc.
Leonard Miller PnR pull-up 3, wow pic.twitter.com/QD67FlqgA9— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) July 11, 2023
George had an impressive quarter in his own right, scoring 12 points on an array of jump shots, pushing the Utah lead to eight at one point. It largely remained a perimeter versus interior battle between the two teams, but things evened out to a 51-50 Jazz leadat the break. The Wolves were up 30 to 16 in points in the paint, while they were outshot 1/8 to 8/23 from beyond the arc.
Then the Wolves came out like gangbusters in the third quarter. Miller continued to impose his will on both ends of the court as George cooled off. The defense and perimeter shooting started to loosen up for Minnesota as they rocketed up to a 71-61 lead with 4:01 remaining in the third quarter.
Would they be able to cruise to the finish line?
The Finish - Crashing Back to Earth
With George struggling from the floor, the Creole-Vietnamese Johnny Juzang stepped up to carry the load. He would score 16 of his team-high 26 points after the Wolves built their double-digit lead. The former UCLA Bruin helped his team regain composure and rediscover their perimeter shooting stroke. Even George got back into the mix as the Wolves looked shocked. Miller, in particular, had a disastrous quarter that resulted in 3 rookie-like turnovers, 2 fouls while missing all 3 of his field goal attempts. He was often out of place on defense, taking poor angles and not contesting smartly. Before you knew it, Minnesota fell behind as much as 11. A quick 7-0 Wolves run instilled a little bit of hope, but the Jazz responded by scoring 13 of the game’s next 15 points.
A lot of intriguing stuff once again from Leonard MIller in SL G2— ℴ (@Huncho_Jman) July 11, 2023
3 STL pic.twitter.com/NEBpoZTzac
It was a harrowing reminder that despite the brilliant flashes by Leonard Miller and Josh Minott (19/6/2), they still have quite a bit of room for development. Sometimes you have to walk before you run, and today, the young Wolves ran a little too fast, too soon.
Canis Hoopus Comment of the Night
*In response to my comment about Keyonte George having a poor Utah Summer League performance.
Much to Josh Minott’s chagrin, the Wolves return to a daytime tipoff against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday 7/12 at 3:00pm CT. The 1-1 Hawks will continue showcasing the 15th overall pick, Kobe Bufkin, who has struggled with his shot so far in summer league (12.5 ppg on 30.3% FG). Second year wing, AJ Griffin, will also look to get back on track (9.0 ppg on 27.3% FG).
Josh Minott said he didn’t like these “morning” games. Said his body was all off, nutrition-wise. Felt like puking at times— Chris Hine (@ChristopherHine) July 7, 2023
(Editor’s note: this game took place at 1:30 pm local time)