Coming into tonight, the Timberwolves were on a 15 game losing streak. They were on the road, without their best player, their best scorer, their second best scorer, and their best big man. They were playing against an Indiana squad that still holds a strong reputation for stifling defense.
So, naturally, Mo Williams chose this game drop 52. Not only did he top his old career high, he also broke the Timberwolves’ franchise record for points scored in a game, surpassing a 51-point mark set by Kevin Love (2012) and Corey Brewer (2014).
Throughout the duration of this losing streak, especially amidst all the injuries, it seemed at times that a herculean effort may be required to finally get over the hump, and in a lot of ways, that’s what happened tonight. But, to the rest of the team’s credit, there was a great deal of contribution from several other players.
Before Williams’ tirade began, it was Gorgui Dieng that set the tone for the Timberwolves in the first quarter. Between a couple blocks, a couple buckets, and a couple great passes from the elbow, Dieng was the first player to make his mark in this game. Wolves’ broadcaster Dave Benz mention mid-game about Dieng’s deep desire to recognize the embarrassment of a 15 game losing streak, and to end it.
He continued to play well, but saw his play slow down a bit after a hard foul on Roy Hibbert when Dieng was going up for a layup. Hibbert was called for a flagrant 2 and ejected from the game. I don’t think there was any intent behind it, but rather a bad mental mistake that turned into something scary.
Credit also belongs to Robbie Hummel, who hit some big shots in the second half in his annual Indiana homecoming, including a big corner 3 in the fourth quarter that helped get the Wolves in a position to take their first lead of the half (they took that lead). The third honorable mention belongs to Andrew Wiggins. He got hot at a point in the fourth quarter, a rare point where Williams was not hitting. He notched 20 points, with 7 of those consecutively with less than 5 minutes to go in the game.
But we all know why we’re here: tonight belongs to Mo.
On the night: 44 minutes, 52 points, 19-33 FG, 6-11 3PT, 8-9 FT, 7 assists, 3 turnovers
He had 37 of his 52 points in the second half. One of the most assuring parts of this scoring barrage, especially prevalent in the second half, was the fact that he never played too far outside himself offensively.
Sure, there were a couple silly heat checks, but when you’re approaching 40, 50 points, a couple shots like those are generally allowed. For the most part, his makes came off shots that he’s going to take on any night. Tonight, they were going in. Seriously, all of them.
Throughout the game, Williams could have dismissed the offensive gameplan and had a pretty good case to do it. Instead, he played smart basketball throughout the game, which included a number of smart passes that came within Flip Saunders’ offense.
In order to score 52 points, you have to get lucky, but you also have to put yourself into position to get lucky. Tonight, Mo Williams did what he had to do to get there. It got them the win in the process.