It had been nearly a month — a streak of nine straight games — since the Timberwolves last won a game, and after Thursday's surprising 135-105 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, some of the players confessed to losing that winning feeling.
"Damn, we got a win," rookie Anthony Edwards said. "It feels good hearing you say that. ... We're trying to get used to it for real."
Added Jaylen Nowell: "I honestly forgot what this feeling felt like. It was great to find that out again."
For coach Chris Finch, the victory felt … cold. As he entered the postgame locker room, Finch ducked his head as the Wolves pounced on him with a celebratory water drenching in honor of his first victory as an NBA head coach.
When he sat down for his post game interview he said, "It's freezing." But in the best way.
"Felt great, felt amazing," Finch said. "Really proud of the guys and the way they played."
Finch pledged there would be a "new reality" after the All-Star break for the Timberwolves.
Thursday's performance seemed like more fantasy than reality. In no way did the Wolves resemble the team that took the floor on a nightly basis before the All-Star break.
For once, the Wolves were the steamroller instead of the steamrollered as they defeated the Pelicans in a cakewalk.
Instead of blowing a fourth quarter lead, the Wolves (8-29) blew their opponent out of the gym.
Instead of playing mediocre defense, the Wolves hunkered down on that end of the floor, and instead of clanking threes, the Wolves finally hit a decent amount (19 of 40).
"The second group came in with aggressiveness," Edwards said. "They came in with a mind-set of we not finna lose this game, and we followed. It led us down a really, really good path."
After a slow start, it was the Wolves' bench that turned a 16-point first-quarter deficit into an eventual rout. Nowell caught fire in the second half to score 28 points, while rookie Jaden McDaniels had his most impressive stat line of the season with 20 points and three blocks. Edwards found success taking the ball to the rim with 27 points and the Wolves won without needing a herculean effort from Karl-Anthony Towns, who finished with 16 points and seven rebounds.
According to the team's public relations department, the Wolves became the first team since 1997-98 season — as far back as Elias' research goes on this statistic — to win a game by 30 or more points after trailing by 15 or more.
"I knew we would come back," Nowell said. "But I honestly didn't know we were going to win by 30."
Or win at all, based on how the first half of the season went. After Zion Williamson (24 points) dominated early, the Wolves refocused their defense on making life as hard as possible on him. McDaniels helped on that end with his three blocks while hitting eight of nine from the field. McDaniels, Nowell and Naz Reid (15 points) combined to shoot 26-for-31 (84%).
The Wolves cut the Pelicans' lead to seven by the end of the first quarter, had a seven-point lead at halftime, and then an unusual thing happened: They actually expanded the lead and ran away with the win in the second half.
"They all were sharing the ball, making the right play and then when we needed to make tough shots they did," Finch said of the bench. "It kind of spiraled from there."
It finally spiraled in a good way.
The question is whether this was a blip on the radar, a night when everything went the Wolves' way, or a sign of the effort the Wolves may put forth in the Finch era.
The relentless second-half schedule will reveal that soon, but for a night there was some celebrating to do after a trying few weeks.
"Finally we get to go back and have something to smile about," Nowell said.
The Star Tribune did not travel for this game. This article was written using the television broadcast and video interviews before and/or after the game.