Zach LaVine is not one to overanalyze a good thing. Which is why, after going 6-for-9 from three-point range in the Timberwolves’ 104-90 victory over Atlanta on Monday night, the guard didn’t have much insight into what was going right.
He only knows it’s going in.
“It’s just feeling good,” LaVine said after the game. “I’m in a little bit of a rhythm. I’ll probably go get some shots up tomorrow to stay in that rhythm.”
The three-point shot has been an up-and-down proposition for the Wolves this season. They began the season shooting well from beyond the arc, then fell into a slump. Recently, it appears the team is getting back on track from long range, shooting 38.2 percent (47-for-123) on threes over the past five games after shooting 29.6 percent over the previous 16.
LaVine, in particular, has been consistent. He has hit two or more threes in 12 of 13 games in December, shooting 45-for-97 in those games (46.4 percent). LaVine, the Wolves’ top scorer in 10 of the past 20 games, has shot 53.2 percent on three-pointers over the past eight games. Over the past five he has shot 57.1 percent (24-for-42), making an average of 4.8 threes per game.
That is a formidable weapon.
“It adds a lot of space to the floor,” coach Tom Thibodeau said.
He has been the beneficiary of some good ball movement of late. Especially between the big three of LaVine, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Both Towns and Wiggins did a good job of passing out of double teams to open shooters in Monday’s one-sided victory over Atlanta.
“It’s amazing,” point guard Ricky Rubio said of LaVine’s recent play. “I mean, he’s hot right now, and we’re looking for him. And that makes it easier for KAT and Wiggs to score.”
Said Wiggins: “He’s a huge weapon. You have to know where he is all the time. And he can shoot from wherever. His range is ridiculous.”
Twenty-two assists, no turnovers
Speaking of offensive efficiency, Rubio has gone 67 minutes, 40 seconds without a turnover, picking up 22 assists in that time. He is coming off two consecutive 10-assist, zero-turnover games.
“I’m controlling the tempo of the game,” said Rubio, who has 10 or more assists in three of his past five games, averaging 9.6 assists in that time. “We’re not making mistakes on offense, and I feel good.”
Said Thibodeau after Monday’s game: “He’s in a good rhythm, and so is Kris [Dunn].”
• Monday, for the second game in a row and the third time in four games, backup center Cole Aldrich did not play. The Hawks had center Dwight Howard back, but he was coming off a sore back his minutes were limited. The rest of the time the Hawks — much as they did in Atlanta Dec. 21 — went with a smaller lineup.
“And that led us to playing small as well,” Thibodeau said.
• After the Wolves held Atlanta to 42.2 percent shooting Monday, Thibodeau was asked if he saw noticeable progress in his team’s defense.
“I’d like to say yes,” he said. “But, to be honest, we had a stretch of four or five games where I thought we were going in the right direction. But then in the next two games [losses to Sacramento and Oklahoma City], I didn’t feel that way.”