The Wolves came out of tonight’s game a pretty happy bunch. And not just because they’d won the game, not just because they’d beaten a team with a winning record for the first time since Nov. 25.
They felt good because they believed they have rediscovered the kind of ball movement they had at the start of the season.
The Wolves had to grind it out late. But they scored 21 points on the break, all in the first half. Fifteen of those came in Minnesota’s 37-point second quarter, with Ricky Rubio throwing the ball to Shabazz Muhammad or Andrew Wiggins.
“We played good tonight,” said Rubio, who had 15 points and 12 rebounds. “Not just good, we played smart. That means we’re learning. After that stretch of losing nine games, I think the last four games we’ve been playing better.’’
After having blown so many double-digit leads this season, this time the Wolves held on. Yes, there was drama. Yes, a 10-point lead to start the fourth quarter disappeared in a game that was tight late. But this time the Wolves won.
Here are some final thoughts on the game:
--Karl-Anthony Towns has scored more points, but he has rarely played better than he did tonight. He scored 14 points on 6-for-6 shooting, grabbed nine rebounds. He also had three assists and a block. But, more impressively, he went toe-to-toe with Memphis center Marc Gasol. His defense on Gasol late helped force the Grizzlies into a five-second turnover.
--Shabazz Muhammad continued to state his case to be a starter. He scored a season-high 25 points in 32½ minutes of playing time. He played good defense, he got out on the break.
--What an efficient night for Andrew Wiggins, who scored 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting
--Rubio was good start to finish. His 13 attempted free throws – matching a career high – showed how aggressive he was. He scored 15 points, had 12 assists and six rebounds. Oh, and three steals to just one turnover.
--Kevin Garnett’s sore knee wouldn’t allow him to play in the second half. I suspect he might not play Monday in Cleveland; we’ll see what Mitchell says after Sunday’s practice.
That’s about it for now. Have a great rest of your night.