This is my fifth season writing in this space, and I’ve noticed something… every year, there comes a point where I start to write a recap and think, “I can’t write it this way, I’ve written one just like it already. I just wrote this last week. This is a loop. I’m a broken record. People will laugh at me. They’ll just say I’m repeating myself.” I’ll sit at my computer, staring at a blank, white screen, in sheer horror that I’m unable to come up with anything new to say. So, screw it. Year 5 is the year I just push through it.
Here I am, again, saying, the Minnesota Timberwolves won because they are more talented than the other team (in this case, the Dallas Mavericks). Much, much more talented. They won despite the litany of problematic facts I’m about to rattle off… They won despite committing 18 turnovers, assisting on just 18 of their 36 buckets, and giving up 12 more three-point attempts than they tried themselves. The Wolves were out of sync and lethargic, despite having the previous three days off, and could never put the foot on the gas and pull away (there were 21 lead changes, and Minnesota’s largest lead was 6 points). They won despite allowing some wide open shots when it mattered most; in the final four minutes, Dallas got excellent looks at corner threes that rimmed out, and on the Mavericks’ penultimate possession, Wes Matthews easily juked Karl-Anthony Towns for a very clean attempt that just couldn’t find the bottom of the net.
They won despite this call going against them:
Jimmy Butler tried pulling the dip on JJ Barea pic.twitter.com/jOBl20m5XN
— Dan Favale (@danfavale) December 11, 2017
They won despite the fact that Andrew Wiggins (6-3-1 on 1-of-9 shooting through three quarters) was invisible until Rick Carlisle sent six-foot-zero, one hundred and eighty pound Kevin Duane “Yogi” Ferrell to guard him, one-on-one in crunch time. (Rick. Babe. What were you thinking there, man?)
They won despite Towns tweaking his knee and briefly exiting the game after diving for a loose ball.
They won because Towns still put up a 28-12-3 line, with 3 steals to boot.
They won because they dominated in second chance points (20-to-8) and at the free throw line (23 attempts for the Wolves, just 9 for the Mavs).
And they won because they employ Jimmy Butler. 22 points, 7 boards, 5 assists, 10 of those points coming in the final period, six bailing the Wolves out after a shitty possession where everyone stood around and watched Jimmy dribble. The final of the three buckets, a turnaround j with 1:46 to go, wrestled the lead back from Dallas for good.
It’s an odd thing, having the Wolves be the talented team that wins games because they’ve got an All-NBA caliber player who can close things out. Watching J.J. Barea do his thing for the Mavericks tonight (and my god, did he do his thing – flops, arguments, 16 points in a sparkplug role off the bench, it was the full experience) made me think back on when it was Jub Jub getting those end-of-quarter shots, and making decisions in crunch time for the Wolves. How far we’ve come, right?
The Wolves are now 16-11, which is a 48.5 win pace, almost exactly one-third of the way through the season. Based on how things have gone so far, I think “vexing” and “perplexing” and “nevertheless, victorious” will be the tagline for most of the team’s games against inferior competition. I look forward to writing all of this again, very soon.