Bucks 102, Wolves 95: The Bucks (Don’t) Stop Here
The Minnesota Timberwolves fell to the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday night by the score of 102-95. After fighting tooth and nail the night prior against the Golden State Warriors (catch Andy’s killer recap here), the Wolves came out flat and were never really able to perk up. Save for Karl-Anthony Towns and Ricky Rubio, the team appeared to be out of gas, especially Andrew Wiggins, who was held to 11 points on 3/13 shooting.
The Wolves struggled to get key stops for most the game, allowing the Bucks to score 16 second chance points. John Henson and Greg Monroe came up big on the glass for Milwaukee, grabbing seven of the team’s 11 offensive boards. When the Wolves finally did start getting stops towards the end of the game, they were unable to capitalize; they scored only nine points over the final five minutes and didn’t score at all from the 2:48 mark until Nemanja Bjelica was provided with a wide-open lane with three seconds left.
It was a team effort from the Bucks as every player who logged greater than five minutes scored in double-figures, save for veteran Jason Terry who was held to five. Matthew Dellavedova and Tony Snell combined to make all eight of Milwaukee’s threes and were arguably the biggest thorns in the Wolves’ side. “[They] hurt us with the three, which is what they do well,” Tom Thibodeau said after the game. “We didn’t close out as well as we needed too [for] both guys.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo (I spelled that without looking) tallied a line of 18 points, four rebounds, seven assists, and two blocks and Kris Middleton added 11 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. The Bucks’ bench outscored the Wolves’ 38-14 and held them to 7/23 (30.4%) from the field.
Ricky Rubio continued his strong play, scoring 22 points and adding eight assists. Over the last five games (against the Utah Jazz, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, and Milwaukee Bucks), Rubio is averaging 15.2 points, 10.4 assists, and 5.8 rebounds and has a plus/minus of +43; he’s been an absolute revelation as of late. Speaking of revelations…
Karl-Anthony Towns continued his monster play Saturday night posting a line of 35 points (on 21 shots; 3/5 from deep), 14 rebounds (four offensive), one assist, one steal, and two blocks; Towns broke the team record, previously set by Wiggins last week, for consecutive games of 20+ points scored, which now stands at 20.
Towns has been on a tear over the last 25 games, averaging 27.9 points, 12.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game on 59.5% shooting from the field and 44.8% (2.7 attempts) from 3. His defense has improved since the beginning of the season; his recognition has improved which has, in turn, improved his rim protection. He still has a ton to grow on the defensive end, but his recent improvements in conjunction with his other-worldly play on offense should maybe raise the question as to if Towns should be considered for All-NBA recognition this season.
Headed into the game against the Bucks, Towns ranked first in PER, estimated wins added, and offensive RPM, second in RPM wins, third in usage rate and points per game, ninth in RPM, 12th in defensive rebound rate, and 15th in overall rebound rate among qualified centers, according to ESPN. It may take the Wolves getting into, or, at the very least, making a significant push for, the playoffs for him to get serious consideration, but Towns is beginning to put together a pretty solid résumé.
In the end, the effort put forth by Rubio and Towns wasn’t enough and the Bucks came away with the victory, their sixth in a row. After the game, a visibly upset Tom Thibodeau didn’t have many positives (or much at all) to speak about. “We didn’t play well,” said Thibodeau. “I knew coming in that we were going to have to be at our best. We got off to a slow start, we didn’t close the [first] half well, we didn’t start the fourth quarter well, and that created a problem.”
The Wolves have an off-day Sunday before beginning a stretch of five games against the Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, New Orleans Pelicans, and the San Antonio Spurs.
- I mentioned it earlier in the recap, but Andrew Wiggins looked pretty tired tonight. Many of his shots were left short and he didn’t have the speed he normally does to get past his defender. Much of that may be due to Kris Middleton being very good at defense, however. Regardless, Wiggins and the rest of the team will get a much-needed day off Sunday, so hopefully they are able to recharge.
- To give a sense of how Thibs was feeling after the game: a reporter asked Thibs about Nemanja Bjelica’s recent play, which has been very solid as of late, and he answered bluntly, “I didn’t think he played well tonight, but overall he’s been playing very well. Yep.”
— FOX Sports North (@fsnorth) March 12, 2017