Minnesota Timberwolves fans knew they were going to be in for a long night when it was announced prior to tip-off that starting point guard, D’Angelo Russell, would be out due to a minor knee issue. Most obviously, the Wolves were going to miss his scoring considering the heater he has been on. Would anyone be up to the task and step up on the offensive end of the floor?
Fortunately for Minnesota, despite the Los Angeles Clippers trotting out what is probably their ideal starting lineup, they matched the Wolves putrid offensive display. That said, things looked surprisingly okay right out of the gate. UCLA alum, Kyle Anderson, got the Wolves off to a 4-0 start which quickly built up to a 9-point lead thanks to an 0 for 10 stretch from the Clippers. The game soon slowed down (Pun!) tremendously as both teams experienced minutes-long droughts, as evidenced by the 21-19 score at the end of the first quarter.
It did not get any better in the second period, as 35% of the game had eclipsed and the score was somehow just 27-27. Anthony Edwards clearly had the highlighter neon green light to take whatever shot he wanted on offense and just as he was starting to percolate, he threw two entry passes directed at Rudy Gobert that would make Jeff Teague look like Magic Johnson. As was the case for the majority of the game, Los Angeles spared them by tossing brick after brick on wide open three-point attempts to allow the Wolves to somehow maintain a 43-38 lead heading into the break. Slow Mo was mostly awesome, Bryn Forbes was not, and the pair of Jaden McDaniels & Wendell Moore Jr. had some beautiful defensive plays in isolation, flummoxing both a number of Clippers.
Wendell Moore Jr. impressive defense on Reggie Jackson pic.twitter.com/GeTmME70DR— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) December 15, 2022
CLEARED FOR TAKEOFF, 3. pic.twitter.com/vrxe5O4GuP— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) December 15, 2022
On the ESPN broadcast, there was a cool segment where they switched over to a live hot mic which Chris Finch was wired up with. The second half could mostly be summarized by one of the first things that came out of his mouth.
“We’re not playing with enough force.”
Finch muttered that under his breath in a tone of resignment as if he has repeated that line to his team over 1,000 times. On the other sideline, it felt as that Tyronn Lue knew that it was a matter of time before his team’s shots would fall. It wasn’t a downpour of rain from perimeter, but Luke Kennard helped it drizzle in Crypto.com Arena. He seemed to break the seal for the Clippers on offense while they automatically threw double teams at Edwards every time he touched the ball. The home team would take a 58-54 lead with 16 minutes left to play, but in this climate? It felt more like a 20-point lead.
This pass is such a good sign for Anthony Edwards’ future as THE guy on an offense. This is a long, long pass and he throws it pretty accurately through a double team with no hesitation. pic.twitter.com/1DUoD0q4O1— Aidan Berg (@AidanBerg_) December 15, 2022
Naz Reid valiantly tried his damnest to get Minnesota back in the game. Reid singlehandedly retook the lead with a personal 4-0 run to start the final quarter, pushing the Wolves ahead 69-67. Was that a slight mist developing on their side of the court?
Nope. Just fog.
It was Los Angeles that would go on a 17-4 run that effectively ended any hope of a road victory for Minnesota. Leonard was loosened up. Shots were dropping for both he and his teammates. The whistle, which was mostly in favor of the Wolves all game, started evening out. Edwards was out of rhythm. A number of sloppy turnovers that ended with the ball in the stands was enough to shut the door. A seemingly close game still resulted in almost three minutes of garbage time as the Iowa Wolves subbed in with the game out of reach.\
Josh Minott slam on the break pic.twitter.com/8oswSbjkZb— CJ Fogler AKA Perc70 #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) December 15, 2022
As Tony! Toni! Toné! once said: “It never rains in Southern California.” That much was true for Minnesota, at least.
Finch on the 3P shooting: "I would say probably 17 of our 3s were open... We just gotta make them."— Leo S (@Y0Leo) December 15, 2022
Omega - Jaden McDaniels
Big Mac had a poor shooting display tonight, as almost everyone did, but his defensive effort was outstanding. He jousted with Kawhi and PG for the majority of the night and still managed to play 36 minutes. McDaniels posted 6 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals. The pair of Clipper superstars finished 11 of 33 from the field.
Delta - Anthony Edwards
Though Ant tied Kawhi with a game-high 19 points, his fire was extinguished during his last stretch of the game. As mentioned earlier, he had a pair of horrific turnovers, leading to a final stat line of 19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 stocks, but 5 turnovers.
Beta - Rudy Gobert
Rudy looked flustered at times tonight, often having brief windows where he was wide open in the paint against a small-ball Clippers team (Zubac just 17 minutes before leaving with an injury). He missed a few bunnies, but was quietly solid, posting 11 points, 13 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
Alpha - Kyle Anderson
Slow Mo was the ultimate connector tonight, showing off all of his multiple talents. Though he finished with “just” 13 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 steal, his impact certainly felt the most palpable.
Canis Hoopus Comment of the Night
The Wolves wrap up their 8-day west coast road trip by visiting the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday 12/16 @ 5:00pm CT. They’ll look to seek some revenge after the Jacyn Goble scored a referee-high 5 technical fouls last week. I do not know if he will be attending the game for work reasons.