It looked like they were going to do it again.
Up by as many as 21 in the first half, the last place Dallas Mavericks brought it all the way back to a 3-point game in the second half. This included a raunchy fourth quarter, where the Wolves were able to rally late and win by 9.
But it didn’t always feel comfortable, and for a while, it felt like the Wolves were going to fall victim to the same thing that cost them losses in their previous two games. No, not getting lazy and letting other teams back in. Tightening up, and letting the lead get to their heads.
To this point, the Wolves don’t know how to win basketball games. Or, rather, how to close out a team when they build a lead. Past-his-prime veterano and future first ballot Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki tried his best to reveal that.
Whether it’s the equally struggle-filled winter months for the Mavericks simply “Maverick-ing”, or the Wolves putting it together at the right time, the Wolves were able to pull away when the game got close. On top of all that, they were able to rebuild their lead and give themselves a comfortable cushion in the game’s final two minutes.
It started with Karl-Anthony Towns getting off to a 60-point pace, hitting on all but one shot and scoring 20 points in the first quarter. With Harrison Barnes on him, Towns was able to get virtually anything he wanted. The double teams, mysteriously, didn’t come until later in the quarter.
He finished with 34 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 blocks, all on 15-19 shooting. It was the ultimate form of offensive efficiency. He shot when he was supposed to shoot, and didn’t force anything (other than the pair of shoulder drops for offensive fouls). He also has mad handles, as displayed in the second half.
KAT wasn’t the only one to stuff the stat sheet. Ricky Rubio had one of his best games of the season, putting up his 16th career 4×5 game. This, according to Alan Horton‘s Twitter account, is the most in the NBA since Rubio joined the Wolves.
The biggest point guard story probably should have been Rubio, but a late injury to Zach LaVine (hip contusion, Thibs said that more information will be made available on Tuesday) allowed the sparsely-used Tyus Jones to get a chance to get some important in-game action. Loud applause brought Tyus into the game, and his solid play gave the applauding fans feeling good as they left the game.
Of course, with Jones’ 3-3 finish, it triggered questions about Tom Thibodeau’s (so far) refusal to put him into the regular rotation, despite generally solid play offensively. After the game, Thibs was very complimentary.
“Every time he plays, good things do happen. I like his readiness,” Thibs said. “I think one of the hard things is when you have to settle on a rotation, there are players that are deserving, but you can’t play everybody. When you do that, you have to take away from other people too.”
The phrase “settle on a rotation” may not sound great…unsettling, even. But he did elaborate later on, perhaps giving Tyus Jones fans a chance for hope.
“It doesn’t always mean it stays that way.”
So, to recap:
- Karl-Anthony Towns started off great, played consistently throughout.
- Ricky Rubio ran the offense beautifully and stuffed the stat sheet
- Zach LaVine suffered a hip contusion during the game, more info to be released tomorrow.
- Tyus Jones filled in for LaVine, played well.
- The Wolves built a double digit lead, nearly let it go, but figured it out and pulled through on the victory.
Here’s our victory track of the night.