Following an electric win highlighted by an incredible dunk, the Minnesota Timberwolves were back in Chase Center Tuesday night for the second of two straight meetings against the Golden State Warriors. Minnesota was also looking to pick up its seventh straight win, something the team hasn’t done since March 2nd, 2003.
With Steph Curry (knee) out tonight, expecting Chris Paul to start in his place.— Charlie Walton (@CharlieWaltonMN) November 14, 2023
McDaniels ran around with Curry on Sunday; here is how I see the defensive matchups changing:
• Conley on Paul
• Edwards on Wiggins
• McDaniels on Thompson
• Towns on Looney
• Gobert on Green
The storyline leading up to the late 9:00 PM CT tip-off was Stephen Curry sitting out due to right knee soreness. Despite some impressive defense, Golden State’s screen ability and favorable whistle allowed Curry to hang 38 points on the Timberwolves in Sunday’s game. Excluding Steph’s effort, Golden State’s rotational players shot a combined 22-of-65 (33.8%) from the floor and 5-of-28 (17.8%) from deep.
Tuesday’s In-Season Tournament matchup against a Curry-less Warriors squad seemed like a must-win.
After a dirty play from Chris Paul and some bantering between Draymond Green and Anthony Edwards on Sunday, tensions were flaring at tip-off Tuesday night. We had some juicy game-shifting drama less than two minutes into the game.
Wolves vs. Warriors fight pic.twitter.com/u3P6yAVJaf— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) November 15, 2023
The entire altercation started when Klay Thompson grabbed Jaden McDaniels’ jersey. Jaden has never been one to back down from anyone, so naturally, he didn’t let Thompson’s egregious gesture slip by the waistside. The two got into a shoving match at center court, and Rudy Gobert flew in to separate them. Draymond Green’s response was to put Gobert in a choke hold and not let him go for seven seconds.
After an understandably long review, McDaniels, Thompson, and Green were all tossed. After that occurred, the score was still 0-0, and we were reminded that there was still a basketball game to be played.
Rudy Gobert called Draymond Green’s headlock “clown behavior” three times when asked about it in the locker room— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) November 15, 2023
Gobert said he thought before the game that Green would want to get ejected tonight because he doesn’t like playing without Steph, who was out injured tonight.— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) November 15, 2023
“I was just trying to crash for a rebound, [Klay] grabbed me by my collar, and I was just trying to defend myself,” McDaniels told reporters after the game. “The rest is what it is.”
Palpable energy was pumped in the Chase Center crowd after the altercation, and the Warriors were able to punch (no pun intended) the Wolves in the mouth for the rest of the first quarter. Minnesota went just 8-of-18 (44%) from the floor and 2-of-8 (25%) from deep through the first 12 minutes, as Golden State went 12-of-26 (46%) from the floor and outscored the Wolves 30-22.
Naz Reid, who had seven points on 3-of-4 from the floor, was the only player who provided some sanity in the opening frame. Brandin Podziemski, Golden State’s 19th overall draft pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, was able to pierce a quick nine points on Minnesota in the first. However entertaining from a fan perspective, it was a horrible start to the game and one that I’m sure Wolves Head Coach Chris Finch and his staff were unhappy about.
All momentum was in the Warriors’ favor heading into the second quarter. However, Karl-Anthony Towns came out of the break red hot, as he provided the Wolves nine straight points (three triples and an and-one) in the first 2-and-a-half minutes of the second and gave us a prelude of what was to come for the rest of the night.
9 STRAIGHT POINTS FOR KAT pic.twitter.com/jY8QG2srTZ— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) November 15, 2023
KAT’s early second-quarter run seemed to fuel Minnesota’s offense and help them settle into a hectic start until that point. However, emotions were still high; Reid picked up three quick fouls and received a technical foul, and the Wolves’ turnover total grew to nine. As halftime drew closer, Minnesota still seemed a few steps behind the Warriors, especially on the defensive end — Golden State went 10-of-20 from the floor in the second and was able to do more or less whatever they wanted to the Wolves’ punchdrunk defense.
The Timberwolves found themselves down just five points at the half, and even though the Warriors were missing their big three, that point differential could have been much worse.
Have to think it'll be an animated locker room at the half.— Canis Hoopus (@canishoopus) November 15, 2023
Can't even begin to imagine how quickly the national belief in the Wolves as a WCF contender would dissipate if they can't beat a Warriors team down Steph, Klay and Dray
After the halftime break, things began to spiral out of control for the Wolves, as they connected on just two of their first nine shot attempts in the quarter. For Minnesota to come out on top in this 90s-esque game, it felt as if a dominant third quarter was necessary. However, the Podziemski-led Warriors were outsmarting the Wolves on seemingly every trip down the floor. For a team trying to make a name for themselves as a title contender in the Western Conference, you can’t succumb to pressure and notice that easily.
Brandin Podziemski— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) November 15, 2023
ARE YOU KIDDING ME ⁉️ pic.twitter.com/IEF3VC5zfz
As the third quarter winded down, with some timely buckets from Shake Milton, Minnesota had it down to just a four-point game. Momentum appeared to be on the Wolves’ side for the first time all night. However, Podziemski stole what should have been the final possession of the third, ran out to the three-point line, spun, and drilled a triple off glass at the horn — pushing Golden State up seven points.
That sequence was a microcosm of the entire game up until that point.
It was do-or-die time for the Wolves heading into the fourth. Despite all the drama, this was still a very winnable game. Golden State came out of the gates misfiring as they turned the ball over three times in its first four offensive trips down the floor. Minnesota smelled blood in the water and decided this game wasn’t over.
BACK-TO-BACK TRIPLES— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) November 15, 2023
After the ejections of Thompson and Green, the Warriors became a relatively young team, and the Wolves would have to rely on their veteran advantage down the stretch. Mike Conley hit a big shot coming out of the break, and KAT continued his impressive night with back-to-back long balls. Just like that, Minnesota had some momentum.
It was pure euphoria down the stretch in what turned out to be another gutsy win, 104-101, from the Wolves. Bite Bite said goodnight to the rowdy Chase Center crowd with a cool, calm, and collected triple in the corner, which summed up the incredible fourth quarter put together by the Wolves.
MINNESOTA MIKE!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/7YQ2QnApvW— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) November 15, 2023
(NAW’s reaction encapsulated what every Timberwolf fan did as Conley sank that triple).
The Wolves are 8-2 and sit comfortably in second place behind the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference.
This team keeps on doing it, man.
This story will continue to be updated throughout the night after coach and player media availability.
A True Maturity Test
After the onset drama, the Wolves had every chance to waver and collapse Tuesday night, but they stuck it out, played together, and turned the game over to the heavy hitters.
“Honestly, we just had to grind out this win,” said Conley postgame. “There was nothing in particular. It was getting a loose ball here and there, an offensive rebound, a reflection, a block, or guys making extra passes. It wasn’t one particular thing, but it was just us finding a way on a night that was pretty hectic.”
Becoming more of a mature team has been a talking point over the last two seasons, and so far this year, Minnesota has done a good job playing up to their talent roster-wise. The team had some issues in the first half against the San Antonio Spurs earlier in the road trip, but they were able to correct and dominate the second half.
The third quarter was rough Tuesday night, but again, the Wolves were able to lean on their veteran leadership and pull out the win. It’s early in the year; wins and losses may not seem like that big of a deal just yet, but establishing this highly sought-after identity has been the biggest takeaway from the Timberwolves’ mature 8-2 start.
The KAT Is Back
After a plodding start to his 2023-24 campaign, Karl-Anthony Towns has completely turned the ship around over Minnesota’s last handful of games.
Karl-Anthony Towns' last four games:— Charlie Walton (@CharlieWaltonMN) November 15, 2023
• vs. NOP: 23 pts, 3 rebs, 9/12 FG
• @ SAS: 29 pts, 12 rebs, 11/21 FG
• @ GSW: 21 pts, 14 rebs, 8/14 FG
• @ GSW: 33 pts, 11 rebs, 12/26 FG
The offense is coming around, and the defense hasn't wavered.
Incredible stuff lately.
Tuesday night, Towns finished with a personal season-high 33 points and 11 rebounds on 12-of-26 from the floor, as he completely willed Minnesota to victory throughout the game.
“Shoutout to the Minnesota Wild, it was like a Hockey game to start,” Towns told Bally Sports Norths’ Marney Gellner. “We just found a way to stay composed. It was a mature win. They tried to rattle us, get us off our game, but we did a great job sticking to our game plan throughout the game and finding a way to win.”
Of course, when the shot falls, as it did for KAT tonight, great things will happen for the Wolves. However, being consistent and reliable on offense is something that has proven even more valuable lately. Towns playing a mature game on both sides will almost always guarantee the same thing on a team-wide spectrum.
Karl-Anthony Towns was awesome in the 4Q, scoring 11 points that included three huge 3-pointers.— Jack Borman (@jrborman13) November 15, 2023
He scored or assisted on five (!) game-tying or go-ahead scores in the 4Q alone:
• 8:06 - GT 3PT, 83-83
• 7:32 - GA 3PT, 86-85
• 6:52 - GA assist, 88-87
• 4:05 - GA 2PT, 94-92… pic.twitter.com/qYACXW2skA
The Timberwolves have a quick turnaround as they hop on a plane tonight and head to Phoenix for a battle with what is expected to be a fully healthy Phoenix Suns team with Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal set to make their regular season debut as a trio tomorrow night. Another late tip-off for the local fans, as game action is set to begin at 8:10 PM CT.
Streaming will be available on Bally Sports North and the Wolves App Radio.