The Minnesota Timberwolves and Portland Trail Blazers entered this game after both suffering a brutal loss in their previous game. The Timberwolves fell to the Boston Celtics in a narrow overtime matchup, while the Trail Blazers lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder by 62. Brutal for different reasons, but brutal, nonetheless. As this game tipped off, it looked like Portland was in for another long night as they rounded out their 7-game road trip.
From the start, the Timberwolves got whatever shot they wanted as they racked up a 36-15 lead in the first quarter with an effective field goal rate of 71.4%. The Wolves did a great job of diversifying their shots and spreading the love. Through the first quarter, six different Wolves scored, and they recorded 10 assists on 13 field goals.
Conversely, the Trail Blazers looked like… well like they really really really didn’t want to be playing basketball tonight. They came out flat, disjointed, and relatively uninterested. Except for Duop Reath, that is. Most fans likely have never heard of Reath, but he had one of the greenest of lights you’ll ever see. Unfortunately for the Blazers, his 2-8 shooting with three missed 3-pointers and zero assists didn’t exactly ignite the team. Not only did Reath lead his team in shot attempts after the first quarter, but he also led all players. This isn’t meant to totally rag on Reath who has had a nice season, but that’s simply not a recipe for success.
As the second quarter kicked off, the two teams seemed to simultaneously swap energies. The Timberwolves came out flat, while the Blazers started showing some fight. They moved the ball more, hunted better shots, and consistently crashed the offensive glass. The Wolves on the other hand, did very few of those things. Their defense devolved into complacency, and their shot selection became impatient.
Through their energetic play, the Blazers were able to cut the lead down to single digits. Ibou Badji’s tenacious pursuit of rebounds sparked this run as the Blazers grabbed six offensive rebounds and built their offensive rebounding rate up to 26.9%. It was an impressive run that could have led to trouble. It didn’t last long as the Timberwolves quickly built up a 21-point lead heading into halftime.
The first half was a clear display of a disparity in size and talent. Every single starter for the Wolves had a plus/minus of at least +24. Karl-Anthony Towns had a casual 16 points and four rebounds on 5-6 shooting. Rudy Gobert had a run of the mill first half double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Mike Conley even got in on the action with his six points, four rebounds, and 10 assists. After a long stretch of games against some of the best teams in the league, it was nice to see what the rest of the league had been feasting on.
The third quarter proved to be more of the same. This game had all the makings of an absolute route, and it didn’t disappoint. Gobert had a near 20-20 game by the end of the third quarter and the rest of the team was treating it as a shoot around. Anthony Edwards didn’t put up big numbers, but he didn’t need to. Instead, his approach was measured and patient. He acted more as a playmaker, picked his spots, and let the rest of the team get in a groove.
Even though this game essentially looked over after the first quarter, the third quarter all but sealed the victory for the Wolves as they built the lead to 31 and kept the Blazers under 60 points. With that said, we’ll go ahead and assume that this one is in the bad. If some cataclysmic collapse ensues, we’ll be back to update and recap what atrocities occurred. If things go as expected, instead here are some ideas to kick start a choose your adventure type ending for the fourth.
Finch kept the starters in how long!?!?
Rudy Gobert looked dominant with the most casual 25-25 game you’ll ever see.
Leonard Miller with a double-double in under 10 minutes!
Did Shake Milton get his groove back?
Regardless of what story lines develop in the fourth quarter, this was a much needed blowout win after a really tough stretch of games. The Wolves still look like one of, if not the, best teams in the league. They have depth, size, and versatility that most teams will really struggle with. It feels good to regain sole possession of first place in the West.
The Wolves will welcome Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, James Harden and the red hot Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday night. Fans can watch the 6 PM CT tip on Bally Sports North.