Tonight’s game featured an extra helping of ugliness for both teams, especially in the first three quarters. The game’s starting shooting guards (Andrew Wiggins and Rodney Hood) shot a combined 7-30 from the field. Utah’s starting backcourt (Raul Neto and Hood) shot a combined 2-19 from the field. The shorthanded Jazz shot under 30 percent for most of the game, shot 39 threes and made just 10 of them. All this, and the Timberwolves took far too long to capitalize on these advantages until late in the game.
The game often went in lulls of bad offense and bad shots. As nice as Andrew Wiggins’ first two makes were (as well a couple later in the game), his misses were very poor tonight. In addition, Gorgui Dieng was the only Wolves bench player that really brought anything of substance to the table through multiple stretches of the game.
But the Wolves won by 14, and despite their inability to push (and keep) the lead to double digits until late in the game, they were able to fight down the stretch and get the win. This came in large part because of the veterans. In this case, I’m counting Ricky Rubio as a veteran. He tied the franchise record for assists AGAIN tonight with 17 (he promised to one day get 18 in the locker room after the game), finding great looks over and over down the stretch. Two of these looks went to Tayshaun Prince towards the end of the game, and once to KG, both of whom shot the ball efficiently all night.
Not counting Rubio’s set-ups, the Wolves’ most steady scoring source came from Karl-Anthony Towns, dropping his sixth game of at least 25 point and 10 rebounds of the year. He had a couple blown defensive assignments where Mitchell had to take him out, but KAT’s offense was stellar.
Since the Wolves weren’t able to build a strong lead in the early stages, keeping the momentum on their side was all the more paramount. This happened at different points, in every quarter of the game.
In the first quarter, it was a dunk from Andrew Wiggins. One of his best so far this season, no?
The second quarter’s was probably this one from Karl-Anthony Towns. It’s absurd that a 7-foot, 250 pound man has this kind of speed and ball handling ability. That said, this was an extremely out-of-control fast break that ended in highlight fashion.
In the third quarter, there were a few options to choose from. There was a trio of nice plays, starting with one where Wiggins threw down another slam. But this fast break, off an assist from Wiggins, probably wins out.
At that point, it looked like the Wolves were going to pull away. But at this point, Trey Burke almost singlehandedly brought the Jazz field goal percentage over 30, and made it a game again. As the fourth quarter started to wind down, Ricky Rubio took over with his passing.
Sam Mitchell said after the game that this pass to Tayshaun Prince was where the team began to feel like the game was going to be won.
Please note the KG screen here. Thoughts go out to Chris Johnson, who was on the receiving end on this monstrosity.
When a team isn’t pulling away like you’d want, it’s important to at least keep the momentum. Sometimes a nice set of good basketball plays is what you need to find what it takes to win a game. Tonight, it seemed as though that was the case.