Timberwolves Wrap: Wolves beat Bulls, 112-105


86. Final. 105. 24. 112

The Timberwolves played a complete game on Saturday night, defeating the depleted Chicago Bulls by a final score of 112-105.

The Wolves were impressive early and late, scuffling only a bit in the middle portions of the game. They held a 26-21 lead after the first quarter but losing the second quarter by 11 points, leading to a five-point deficit at halftime.

Minnesota executed their game plan of forcing the ball out of Derrick Rose‘s hands, leading to a season-high 10 assists from the former NBA MVP. He also shot just 6 of 20 from the field with three turnovers and an 0-for-3 night form beyond the arc.

The Wolves turned around and had a strong, 35-point third quarter, giving the home squad a one-point advantage heading to the final frame.

Sam Mitchell‘s rotation was altered on this night, allowing Zach LaVine to be the first player off the bench and playing alongside Ricky Rubio for a few minutes in both the first and third quarters before Rubio sat in favor of Andre Miller.

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That meant that LaVine didn’t run the point guard at all on Saturday in his 35 minutes on the court. He did struggle, shooting just 5 of 16 from the field as he still needlessly forced a number of contested shots.

When Karl-Anthony Towns, who nearly notched a first half double-double, and eventually Rubio reentered the game in the fourth quarter, the Wolves turned a five-point deficit at the 2:55 mark in the fourth quarter into an eventual seven-point margin of victory.

It started with a pair of LaVine free throws after being fouled in transition, followed by a pair of free throws from Rubio. From there, it was the Wiggins show, with a pair of jumpers and a tough turnaround jump-hook that built a lead that the Timberwolves would not relinquish.

Also, credit where credit is due: Mitchell helped key the Wolves’ surge at the end of the game by putting Wiggins on Rose and Rubio on E’Twaun Moore. Wiggins’ length bothered Rose, who had been worn down by a pesky Rubio all game long and simply couldn’t see/pass/shoot around Wiggins.

The Bulls offense, which mainly consisted of open Pau Gasol jumpers early in the game, sputtered mightily down the stretch while Wiggins took over offensively for the Wolves.

Tweets of the Night

Star of the Night

Karl-Anthony Towns – 26 points (12-19 FG, 0-2 3P, 2-2 FT), 17 rebounds, 3 blocks, one assist, 2 turnovers

Towns had 16 points and nine rebounds by halftime. He was an absolute monster on both ends of the floor, showing tenacity on the boards and consistent activity on the defensive end of the floor.

Gasol led the Bulls with eight rebounds. Towns had 17 boards, and Gorgui Dieng had 13 of his own. The size and athleticism of the Wolves’ frontline was far, far too much for Chicago on this night.

Additionally, Towns showed his entire offensive repertoire. In the first quarter, he scored in the post, off of offensive rebounds, on drives to the hoop, and from the mid-range. In the second half, he hit a pair of jumpers on the move off of inbound plays.

He’s good at basketball, ladies and gentleman. Really, really good.

Other Notable Timberwolves Lines

Andrew Wiggins – 21 points (8-17 FG, 0-1 3P, 5-6 FT), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, one turnover

Ricky Rubio – 14 points (4-6 FG, 6-6 FT), 6 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 turnovers

Gorgui Dieng – 24 points (10-13 FG, 0-1 3P, 4-4 FT), 13 rebounds, 7 assists, one block, one turnover

Dieng gave Towns a run for his money for player of the game with an ultra-efficient 10-for-13 night from the field with 13 boards and seven assists. He also only turned the ball over one time, which has been an issue at times for Gorgui.

Who’s Got Next?

The Timberwolves finish will stay at home to face Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night before the Wolves close out the pre-All-Star break slate with a home date against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.

Next: Is Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins in a Sophomore Slump?

The Pelicans game is certainly winnable, giving the Wolves a real shot at a three-game winning streak. The Raptors tilt is much tougher, obviously, but it’s great to see Mitchell’s bunch building a bit of momentum before splitting for a few much-needed off days.