This game just never felt like it was in the cards for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Minnesota started the game flat and had to claw their way back in the second half. It seemed like every time the Timberwolves were gaining ground a New Orleans Pelicans player had the answer with a punch to the gut type of three.
That didn’t change at the end of the game. As the game looked like it was heading to overtime after a D’Angelo Russell bucket with three seconds remaining the Pelicans found a way to get Brandon Ingram the ball for a dagger three in the face of Josh Okogie.
Minnesota now ends the season series with the New Orleans Pelicans at 2-2 and won’t see them (pending a playoff matchup) again until next year. This unfortunately means no Zion Williamson vs. Nathan Knight matchups like we’ve all hoped for.
Heading into the game Minnesota was fresh off of a four-game win streak where they regained a .500 record at 20-20. They were looking like a good team that beats the teams that they’re supposed to beat with convincing wins over the LA Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Houston Rockets. This game had the vibes of past Timberwolves teams where they lose the game for themselves due to lack of energy/giving a darn.
It started out with great energy from Jarred “The New and Improved Reggie Evans” Vanderbilt as he picked up where he left off in Houston dunking three times in the first quarter and being his usual invaluable self for the team. D’Angelo Russell also continued his All Star campaign in the first shooting three for four to start the game.
Jarred Vanderbilt slip + finish, assisted by D’Angelo Russell pic.twitter.com/ULNWg9psG8— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) January 12, 2022
Unfortunately as the first was ending Jaylen Nowell took a gnarly hit on a loose ball and left the game with a sprained ankle. He was later ruled out and as I’m typing this a timetable on his return hasn’t been released. This put the guard rotation in a weird spot as Patrick Beverley was on a minutes restriction. This resulted in a handful of stale lineups lacking creators and the game slowly getting away from Minnesota as the half came to a close.
After ending the half with a seven point run, the Pels took it right back to Minnesota to start the third with an 8-3 run threatening to blow the lid off of the game on the lackluster Wolves.
Chris Finch injected Taurean Prince into the lineup midway through the third and gave some life to the Wolves. As mentioned at the beginning of the article, the Wolves spent the rest of the game attempting to dig themselves out of an early hole, and relied heavily on Anthony Edwards late in the game to try and steal a victory in New Orleans:
Anthony Edwards 4th quarter scoring outburst - 8 points in less than a minute pic.twitter.com/9JKVePq6aS— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) January 12, 2022
ANT tallied 20 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late as the Pelicans had an answer every time, connecting on their final nine three-point attempts to ice the game and snap Minnesota’s four-game winning streak.
To end on a nice note, Jaden McDaniels is awesome. During COVID he took a larger role on offense and it hasn’t disappeared. He’s looking more comfortable attacking the rim, with the ball in his hands, and actually playing offense with the stars without deferring. This is a super exciting thing to monitor as Jaden McDaniels has a ton of potential that needs to be tapped into and he could very well fill the need of a creator on offense off of the bench.
Jaden McDaniels crossover + drive + finish through contact, wow pic.twitter.com/CP4JEfG1xj— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) January 12, 2022
Looking ahead on the schedule, the Timberwolves will now square off against a red-hot Memphis Grizzlies team (that has won ten straight games) followed by a home game on Sunday against Andrew Wiggins and the Golden State Warriors.