The Timberwolves played the Kings tonight. The Kings started rebounding demon Reggie Evans in place of the injured DeMarcus Cousins. Zach LaVine, as he’s grown somewhat accustomed to, at least in terms of regularity, stood in as Ricky Rubio’s spot as starting point guard. On top of that, tonight had no Nikola Pekovic, Darren Collison, Kevin Garnett, Gorgui Dieng, or Carl Landry.
Both teams have seen lots of absences due to injury (or illness, in some cases), and both fanbases have come to expect some goofy outputs from players you wouldn’t expect. As per usual with losing teams at the end of the season, players who don’t normally get their time to shine seem more apt for finding looks.
In some respects, the expected suspects got theirs. For the Wolves, Andrew Wiggins shot the ball well, and finished with 26 points and 8 rebounds. He had a nice mixture of takes to the hoop, finishes at the rim, and plays on the block. His shooting from the perimeter wasn’t terribly frequent tonight, but was mostly on-point when he’d pull up.
On the other side, Rudy Gay’s monster 33-7-5 statline is probably the biggest non-Wolves reason the Kings were able to keep a comfortable lead throughout the game.
Despite nice outputs from good players, a game with such minimal amounts of defense, especially this late in the season, is going to bring out some wild stat lines. Tonight, the stars were aligned for just that.
It’s nights like this when you see Kevin Martin take 30 shots and score 37 points.It’s nights when Zach LaVine joins weird age-grouped company with his 25 point, 4 rebound, 11 assist night. See for yourself, research courtesy of our own Zach Harper. It’s nights like this when you see Omri Casspi score a career high 30 points, and Derrick Williams continue his excellent Timbertroll effort, dropping 18 on 8-12 shooting. That’s right. Omri Casspi and Derrick Williams combined for 48 points. It was that kind of night. At this point, Wolves fans are almost used to seeing WIlliams elevate his game when he sees those Wolves jerseys on defense.
Both of these teams have a pretty good idea where they’ll be drafting this summer, and neither have any playoff aspirations at this point. With so many absences in their team’s starting lineup, it’s easy to see why such a game could get out of hand so quickly.
In the first half, while neck and neck, it seemed as though the Wolves would eventually lose the lead and go down by double digits. They gave the Kings a slew of easy shots, never really making the game feel as close as it really was.
In the second half, in classic “just like that” fashion, the Wolves suddenly found themselves down by nearly 20. The lack of closing out on the perimeter led to easier shots, and easier access to the rim when they’d close out late. Eventually, the Wolves were able to secure a run of their own, bringing the game back down to single digits.
The game, while close down the stretch, never really felt as close as the score suggested. Neither team played particularly well, and the goofy stats from somewhat unsuspecting guys can be at least partially attributed to that. But, at this point in the season, isn’t that expected to some extent?