The Wolves came into Thursday night’s game with a 2-1 record. Amount of games played aside, they were sitting third in the Western Conference based on winning percentage coming into a meeting with the Miami Heat.
Unfortunately, Minnesota looked nothing like a playoff team, and especially not in the highly competitive Western Conference.
The Wolves started off the game with a three-pointer from Andrew Wiggins, an encouraging start to be sure. Then, Minnesota jumped out to a 7-2 lead with nine minutes left in the quarter, but from then on, the momentum took a turn for the worse.
Dwayne Wade, who finished with 25 points, engineered a 20-8 run to close out the quarter. It was highlighted by a lob pass to Hassan Whiteside who finished the thunderous alley-oop slam, bringing the score to 22-15 after 12 minutes of play.
The second quarter consisted of the teams trading buckets with the Wolves slowly gaining traction to pull within three points with a minute left in the second quarter. Then, Dwayne Wade happened again.
Wade made a 17-foot jumper and drew a foul, then connected on another attempt, and finally, in star-like fashion, drained a half-court heave as time expired. Suddenly, it was 49-39 at the half.
From then on, Minnesota would get no closer than five points as the Heat attacked from all over the court with a conglomeration of players contributing towards the sustained lead in the second half.
All five starters for Miami finished in double digits. Dragic and Bosh were the main actors in supporting roles to Wade with 18 and 16 points, respectively.
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Shabazz Muhammad was perhaps the lone bright spot for the Wolves. He played solid minutes in the third quarter and then forgot that he should probably leave the floor at the some point during the fourth quarter, keeping Minnesota within feasible striking distance until the end of the game.
Muhammad hustled seemingly non-stop, grabbing rebounds and attacking the basket. He finished with 14 points, 6 rebounds, and a block on the night.
Despite Muhammad’s tough play, the Heat simply played better team basketball. They shot 48.7% from the floor — not terrific, but easily good enough to overcome their opponent’s awful 35.3% shooting.
Ultimately, Miami stayed strong and held their lead until the end, finishing the Wolves off with a score of 96-84.
The loss is the Wolves second in a row and second straight at home. Minnesota remains winless at the Target Center after winning their first two games on the road.
Tweet of the Night:
Star of the Night:
Dwayne Wade: 25 points (11-19 FG, 2-5 FT), 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists, 2 turnovers
Wade controlled the first half, maneuvering his way through the Wolves defense: pulling up for mid-range jumpers, taking it to the rim confidently and skillfully, and throwing lobs to the ceiling to find their way to Whiteside for slams.
It certainly didn’t look like he has lost a step in his game. At least on this night, anyway. After dominating the closing minutes of the second quarter, Wade capped it off by launching a shot from half court into the basket.
It was one of those crazy shots that you knew was going in before it actually did just because of who was shooting it. The Miami Heat legend was the best player on the floor and led his team to victory.
Stat of the Night:
Andrew Wiggins (12 points on 5-18 FG) and Karl-Anthony Towns (6 points on 3-13 FG) combined to score 18 points on 8 of 31 shooting.
Wiggins and Towns simply could not buy a bucket. It was painful to watch in the second half as neither of the young stars were making the shots they normally make.
For Towns, it’s his rookie season, and it’s expected that he’ll have games like this. For Wiggins, it’s another low-shooting percentage game to start off his sophomore campaign. Perhaps it’s too early to be concerned, but Wolves fans can’t exactly be overflowing with confidence after his recent performances.
Notable Timberwolves Lines:
- Shabazz Muhammad – 14 points (5-10 FG, 4-5 FT), 6 rebounds, one block, one turnover
- Adreian Payne – 9 points (3-4 FG, 1-1 3PT), 6 rebounds, one block, 13 minutes
- Gorgui Dieng – 10 points (4-8 FG), 6 rebounds, 2 steals, one block
Who’s Got Next?
The Wolves travel to Chicago to face the Bulls on Saturday at 5 p.m. Central Time. Chicago is coming off a huge victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday and have shown major improvement offensively so far this season.
It will be another tough test for the young Wolves. Hopefully, the team can show a bit more efficiency on the offensive end and resiliency on the defensive side of the ball on Saturday afternoon.