Morale heading into this game might have been at a low in a season full of valleys. Two embarrassing losses in two totally different ways. You would think that both the coaching staff and the players would be fired up to right the ship. Though the Washington Wizards are a fully healthy and capable .500 team, they still appeared to be a team that the Minnesota Timberwolves could use to regain their confidence.
What could go wrong?
Washington’s first shot of the game would be a Kristaps Porzingis three pointer from straight ahead. Make. Their second shot would be a wide open Porzingis three from near the same spot. Swish. Their third shot would be - you guessed it - a pull up Porzingis three from the same area. Bucket. Just like an Andrew Wiggins lob dunk on Rudy Gobert, the game felt over after the first few plays. In fact, it took less than three minutes of game time for the home team to build a double-digit lead. D’Angelo Russell was the lone heartbeat for Minnesota, turning in 13 early first quarter points to keep the game from totally getting out of hand. Kyle Anderson also had a strong performance, subbing in for Rudy Gobert, who looked absolutely confused at what he was supposed to do on either end of the court. That said, it was a total team effort in terms of lackadaisical defensive effort. The Wolves allowed almost every single Wizards player to stroll into the lane with no resistance to pair with an equally lax effort getting out to perimeter shooters.
Jaylen Nowell on team defense: "I think we gotta take it more serious. It's tough right now... I think we will. We just have a lot of mental lapses and we just gotta get that figured out."— Leo S (@Y0Leo) November 29, 2022
Before you knew it, Porzingis would drain his sixth trey to notch his 27th first half point, extending his team’s lead to that same number, putting the Wolves down 46-73.
It did not even take until halftime before Washington attempted to clown Minnesota by jacking up wild shots and strutting back with smiles on their faces. It felt as though they were inspired by the kick-sand-in-your-face performance by Golden State on Sunday. The eye test looked just as bad the score did, as the Wolves were constantly looking around and trying to figure out who was supposed to be where.
Kyle Anderson and KAT loudly sorting through what they're supposed to be doing on offense like they're in practice.— Leo S (@Y0Leo) November 29, 2022
This is game 21 of the season. pic.twitter.com/MngI0fSF3E
It was only through their indifference did the Wolves manage to “keep it” a 58-77 game. Anthony Edwards, in particular, took advantage of the opportunity to stuff empty stats into the box score by repeatedly driving to the rim. At least he churned out this highlight dunk off a beautiful split.
That dunk, and starting Anderson over Austin Rivers in the second half, appeared to stir something within the Wolves. The most fire they played with came at the start of the third quarter, as Minnesota rattled off 10 straight points to slash the lead to single digits. Things began with a four-point possession that generated the dunk of the game.
watch ya head when ANT TAKES FLIGHT. pic.twitter.com/Z5IWLFqHHJ— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) November 29, 2022
Each time it felt like the Wolves were about to snatch the momentum of the game back, a different Wizard would respond with a timely field goal from deep. Just as it was finally becoming a somewhat competitive game when tragedy struck. Off a Minnesota turnover, Karl-Anthony Towns was curiously missing (He was not on the ground after a wild layup attempt) in transition. The camera to cut to him slumped over facedown on the Wolves side of the court.
Here's the play Karl-Anthony Towns was injured on.— Canis Hoopus (@canishoopus) November 29, 2022
Best wishes for KAT pic.twitter.com/A1dRnnyYMo
The state of Minnesota held their collective breath as Towns was carried into the locker room bearing no weight on his right leg. Thankfully, news broke that he was “just” a right calf strain. Our Jack Borman went into further detail in his piece here.
There was still basketball to be played, but it all felt somewhat irrelevant. Jaylen Nowell continued his impressive scoring streak. Gobert got back on track with a handful of nice finishes around the rim. However, as mentioned earlier, for every made Minnesota field goal was a Washington three point bomb in return. A 97-109 score heading into the final quarter never got any better for the visitors, as Porzingis slammed the door shut with a few more and-1’s on his way to setting a new career-high, 41 points. There was still about 4:30 left in the game before both teams emptied their benches as the Wizards lead was safely above 20.
At the end of the day:
- The defense remains a huge issue, giving up a season-high 142 points just 24 hours after giving up a then season-high 137 to Golden State.
- The offense remains a mystery box, as Edwards and Russell (or even Nowell) continue to be inconsistent while the entire team keeps turning the ball over. Those two, in particular, finished the night with 7 assists and 10 turnovers.
- Karl-Anthony Towns status remains murky for the foreseeable future so the timeline for “Figuring it out” hits a huge delay. Rome remains in construction.
- The bad vibes appear to be real and getting worse with each loss.
- The Wolves are now officially below .500. Again.
But hey, at least we got to seem some Josh Minott action. Dare I say, call Luka Garza up for some real minutes soon?
Josh Minott block, great low-man help pic.twitter.com/ERB3kZxy82— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) November 29, 2022
Omega - D’Angelo Russell
As mentioned above, D’Lo helped keep the game from getting completely away from the Wolves. He was aggressively attacking on offense and even showing some hustle on defense. 17 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 stocks isn’t too bad. Unfortunately, after that initial spurt, he put up just 4 points, 1 rebounds, and 3 assists in three quarters of play.
Delta - Rudy Gobert
Inversely, Rudy played some of his worst basketball in a Wolves jersey in the first half. His first half -28 turned into a second half +6, as the Frenchmen notched 13 of his 19 points on 7/7 shooting during that time. He’ll have all the minutes he can handle while KAT is out.
Rudy is dunking EVERYTHING. pic.twitter.com/IhlsZdWOig— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) November 29, 2022
Beta - Anthony Edwards
We already discussed Ant’s turnover issue earlier (7 turnovers), but he was aggressive attacking the painted area tonight. His three point shot was struggling, so he went 8 of 13 from two point range and reeled in 10 of his 11 free throws. Ant’s final line of 29 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals led the Wolves.
Alpha - Jaylen Nowell
Jaylen had the most complete performance tonight. He did his job and he did it well. 23 points on 9/13 shooting, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal. We’ll need early season Jaylen’s offensive firepower if the Wolves want to remain in play-in contention while KAT is out.
the bucket's got 22. pic.twitter.com/xgkSLLGU48— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) November 29, 2022
Canis Hoopus Comment of the Night
It’s the NBA and there’s always the next game. In this case, there will always be another tough opponent awaiting. The Wolves return home to welcome the Memphis Grizzlies to town on Wednesday 11/30 @ 7:00pm CT. Just three Fridays ago, the Grizzlies defeated the Wolves in Tennessee on ESPN as recapped by our Mike Kenyanya. Will Minnesota be able to pay the favor back with KAT?