The Minnesota Timberwolves crumbled against the Sacramento Kings Saturday night to the tune of 123-117. The Wolves lead the Kings 31-18 after the first quarter, but proceeded to get molly-whopped over the final three frames by the score of 105-92; truthfully, it wasn’t even that close. This was the 15th time this season that the Wolves have built a double-digit lead only to let it squander away before the final buzzer.
Sacramento shot 56.4% from the field and posted a true shooting percentage of 66.5%. Ty Lawson, who seemed to be channeling his former prime Denver Nuggets self, lead the way for the Kings, scoring 21 points and dishing out 11 dimes off the bench. Buddy Hield added 22 points and Willie Cauley-Stein 15 points and 10 boards. Although the Wolves’ starters outperformed the Kings’, it was Sacramento’s bench that made the difference in this one as they outscored the Wolves’ bench 66-26.
Neither team provided much resistance on the defensive end of the court, but, much like in games prior, it was the Wolves’ defense that proved to be more porous. The Wolves, once again, put forth a pretty uninspired effort on defense, seemingly allowing the Kings to shoot uncontested threes and get easy dunks and layups at will.
After the game, a seemingly defeated Tom Thibodeau stated, “It’s two games in a row that we’ve gotten out to good starts and…[we] didn’t play with an edge.” He continued, in regards to the Wolves’ beleaguered defense, “We gotta keep working at it. Gotta keep working at it [deep sigh]. I thought our starters got us off to a good start and then our bench came in and we had reckless fouls, some tough shots, [poor] floor balance getting back. So, you know, we gotta straighten that out.”
Ricky Rubio’s streak of hot shooting took a (hopefully) temporary hiatus Saturday night as he was a mere 1/10 from the field. However, he had yet another astounding night at the free throw line, pouring in nine of his 10 attempts; Rubio finished with 11 points, six rebounds, and 13 assists to go along with two steals. Andrew Wiggins put up a relatively quiet, highly efficient 32 points on 13/20 shooting (4/7 from 3) and added three rebounds and assists. Karl-Anthony Towns chipped in 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 assists.
What separated Towns’ night from the rest of the starters was his performance in plus/minus. Towns was a -17 in 40 minutes of play, whereas Wiggins was a +13, Rubio a +12, Gorgui Dieng (who had himself a very typical 11/8/2/3/1 night) a +7, and Brandon Rush a +4. Obviously, Towns’ plus/minus is skewed because of the minutes he played with the bench (Thibodeau likes to stagger Wiggins and Towns, with Towns ultimately playing more minutes with the bench) and a single game’s plus/minus leaves a lot to be desired, but if the Wolves want to win games like this, they need him to not only perform well against, but to take advantage of, the opposing team’s secondary players. Towns was unable to do that tonight and the Wolves ultimately paid the price.
The Wolves are next in action on Monday night at home against the Portland Trail Blazers, in which they begin a four-games-in-five-nights extravaganza/tankapalooza. Tip is scheduled for 6 p.m.
- No player in NBA history has ever logged 100 three-point field goals, 100 blocks, and 1,000 rebounds in a single season. Karl-Anthony Towns is currently sitting at 90 threes, 99 blocks, and 906 rebounds. He would have to average a little over 1.4 threes and 13.4 rebounds per game and get just one more block to accomplish this feat.
- Zach LaVine was awarded the Flip Saunders Legacy Fund award prior to the game. The award is given to the player that most impacts the community in a positive way as voted on by players on the roster. LaVine won the award to “recognize his excellence in community service”, per Wolves PR. LaVine works closely with the Metro Deaf School and has also participated in the Wolves’ Holiday Shopping Spree for Kids.
- Kris Dunn finished with one steal tonight, making it 13 games in a row in which he has nabbed at least one steal.
- With the Wolves loss and the Portland Trail Blazers win, the Wolves have officially been eliminated from playoff contention *insert tank shooting fire from its cannon with lit sparklers around its wheels here*.