Looking to finish a grueling five-game road trip 4-1 with a win over the New Orleans Pelicans playing without Zion Williamson (rest), the Minnesota Timberwolves started off the game slow, scoring just six points over the first five and a half minutes of the game. The offense was sloppy and did not have the energy you’d like to see from a team that had the last couple days off.
One interesting aspect of the Wolves offense was that Rudy Gobert often went to the corner as the Wolves looked for better spacing. Gobert did take a long two from the right corner along with getting a lob dunk from Karl-Anthony Towns as he cut from that same right corner.
Towns did a good job of finding his teammates for open shots, as he had a team-leading four assists in the first quarter. Although Towns did well playmaking with three first period assists, he didn’t have a field goal attempt until there were 46 seconds left in the first quarter. KAT was able to pick up the scoring in the second quarter as he scored ten points in the quarter for a total of 12 in the first half. Towns was able to score both in the posts, along with a couple of mid-range fade-away jump shots.
that's toughhh, KAT pic.twitter.com/KBTWku7yTg— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) November 19, 2023
The Wolves defense in the first half wasn’t what we’ve become used to as the Pelicans had 64 points at the break.
The Wolves did a good job keeping New Orleans out of the paint, but New Orleans was shooting well from deep as they made seven of their first ten three-pointers.
The Timberwolves did not rebound the ball well in the first half either, as the Pelicans had eight offensive rebounds leading to 12 second-chance points. Despite the Wolves size, rebounding has been an issue at many points this year and last.
In the second half, foul trouble became a big issue for the Wolves. Towns picked up his fourth foul just over a minute into the third quarter. Anthony Edwards picked up his fourth halfway through the quarter on a questionable charge call drawn by Cody Zeller.
With Both Towns and Edwards on the bench, New Orleans immediately went on an 8-0 run stretching their lead to 11. The Wolves offense really struggled to score as they only had 11 points in the last six minutes of the third quarter.
With the Pelicans leading by ten going into the fourth quarter, the Wolves defense was able to tighten up using a zone that seemed to baffle the New Orleans’ offense. With 1:27 left in the game, KAT gave the Wolves their first lead.
KAT FOR THE LEAD.— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) November 19, 2023
THAT'S MONEY. pic.twitter.com/TzBYGMk5BE
Brandon Ingram would respond with a crazy contested bank shot that would time the game. After Gobert missed two free throws, Ant would get too physical on defense, leading to his sixth foul and the Pelicans taking the lead as Ingram split two free throws.
KAT would again come up huge giving the Wolves the lead with five seconds left on a drive to the rim.
That bucket would end up being the game-winner as Jaden McDaniels would force Ingram into a tough shot and a miss. Ant would say after the game about this play, “When we realized it was an iso, it was over with.”
The Wolves looked dead in the water at many points in this game, but they were able to complete a double-digit fourth-quarter comeback to steal a game in New Orleans.
KAT Comes Up Huge
Karl-Anthony Towns had a phenomenal game scoring 29 points on 10-11 shooting. He also added six rebounds and a team-leading nine assists.
This continues a phenomenal stretch for Towns as he scored 26.7 points per game on 59.4% from the field over the last six games. He has also started to see his 3-point shot start to fall as he has shot 48.5% from deep over these same six games.
After a very poor start to the season for KAT, he has completely turned it around of late and seems poised to lead this Timberwolves offense the for rest of this season.
Ant’s Lack of Shots Near the Rim
Anthony Edwards had a solid game, scoring 23 points on 9-19 shooting from the field. Edwards also made five three-pointers, all of which were assisted.
Ant’s shot selection did leave a bit to be desired though as he seemed to get tunnel vision down the stretch of the game. Edwards had a few too many isolation shots from both three-point and mid-range.
Edwards finished with only four points in the paint and zero free throws, both of which are a lot less than you’d like to see from a player who so good at getting downhill and either finishing or getting fouled.
It has been good to see Edwards succeed so much in the mid-range to start this season, but hopefully, he can find a bit better balance between shooting the mid-range and scoring in the paint.
Continuing to Win on Off-Nights
The Wolves won another game in which they did not play well for many stretches of the game. They were down as many as 15 points in the game and 14 points in the fourth quarter but found a way to claw back and win.
Their defense of course played a huge role, only allowing the Pelicans to score eight points over the last six minutes of the game. The Wolves’ zone was a big part of that stellar defense as New Orleans struggled to score against the unfamiliar defensive scheme.
This win completes a 4-1 Western Conference road trip, with the only loss coming on a back-to-back against the Phoenix Suns.
The Timberwolves did not play well for much of the road trip but kept finding a way to win — something they couldn’t do last season. Eventually, they will have to play better if they want to reach their ultimate goal, but for now, banking wins early in the year is what matters most, and that’s exactly what Minnesota is doing.
As a result, the Timberwolves find themselves atop the Western Conference standings at 9-3, with the top intra-conference record of 7-1.
The Timberwolves now return home for a three-game home stand that starts with a game against old friend Tom Thibodeau and the New York Knicks on Monday, November 20th at 7:00 PM CT. Fans can watch the game on Bally Sports North.