Normally, a team doesn’t outlast a 50-piece from someone on the opposition.
Consider the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night an exception to the rule. In a night that felt going in like it could be yet another letdown game from a talented group, it proved to be quite the opposite. Darius Garland put up a 50-point game for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Minnesota avoided a fourth-quarter collapse to take it home.
While the ball found its way in the offense for the first time in a long time, a lot of that had to do with a hot shooting performance, and D’Angelo Russell finally looking like the player many had hoped heading into the season, as opposed to the last few games.
The Wolves don’t start hot or win the game without the effort from Russell.
Russell found his groove after an objectively bad first 13 games. He finished with 30 points, 12 dishes, and a team high +19. He shot a scorching 84% from the floor (11-13), and looked like vintage D-Lo in Brooklyn working the mid-range off of screens. Head Coach Chris Finch loved it.
“[D-Lo] came out very aggressive. Got to his spots,” he said. “Then he started moving the ball around and opened the floor up for his teammates. I’m happy for him.”
Key words: moving the ball and opening up the floor. It allowed Rudy Gobert to get his fifth double-double of the year, and the first time him and Karl-Anthony Towns achieved double doubles in the same game.
“It’s huge...when he’s just playing the game, being himself, being aggressive,” Gobert said. “It sets the tone for us. It wasn’t just about him scoring, but making the right play.”
Garland Goes Off
What peaked at a 24-point lead during the game was widdled down to a one-possession game in the fourth quarter, thanks to a 40-25 advantage to Cleveland in the fourth quarter.
“This is a game that could have slipped away, and we didn’t let that happen,” Rudy Gobert said afterwards.
Another thing that helped? A 51-point game from Darius Garland. It’s the most points in a game in Cavaliers history by someone not named LeBron or Kyrie. It’s also the single-game high in the NBA this season.
Darius Garland career night:— StatMuse (@statmuse) November 14, 2022
Only LeBron and Kyrie had more points in Cavs history. pic.twitter.com/pxuoxKxqwm
“We tried a lot of things to get him shut down,” Finch said.
One of those things included getting Austin Rivers involved late to deny the ball with Jaden McDaniels fouling out. It was just enough.
Other Musings: KAT and Second-Chance Points
The Wolves came into tonight leading the league in second-chance points allowed with more than 18...and that trend continued, mostly in the form of offensive rebounds and kickouts to Garland.
Minnesota allowed 22 second chance points tonight, while achieving just 6 of their own. That defecit was overcome by the 16-4 advantage in points in transition, and the fact the Wolves had fewer opportunities by shooting 56% from the field, and 50% from three points range.
Karl-Anthony Towns was still a major contributor on the glass, posting 13 boards to go with his 29 points.
“I though KAT did a great job going to the offensive glass when it was there...for me, I’m just trying to be myself and help him offensively and defensively,” Rudy Gobert said. If we want to be a championship team, we have to set the tone on the glass first.”
KAT tonight:— StatMuse (@statmuse) November 14, 2022
First win vs .500 team of the season. pic.twitter.com/ceVEDlL4t9
The Wolves will head to Disney World to look to make it back-to-back win against the young, but pesky Orlando Magic.
The Paolo Banchero-led squad that has seen an awakening from former Tim Connelly draft selection Bol Bol is coming off of a win on their home court against Dallas.
It’s a winnable game, but not if Minnesota comes into it as they have in other games before Sunday night.
It will also be an opportunity for Anthony Edwards to get back on track, who went 38% from the field Sunday.