Timberwolves Wrap: Blowout win over the Hawks

Dec 26, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Mike Scott (32) and guard Kyle Korver (26) box out Minnesota Timberwolves forward Gorgui Dieng (5) in the first quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 26, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Mike Scott (32) and guard Kyle Korver (26) box out Minnesota Timberwolves forward Gorgui Dieng (5) in the first quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports /

Once again, the Timberwolves played well on the second part of a back-to-back set and defeated the Atlanta Hawks for the second time in five days.

86. Final. 90. 125. 104

After being dominated by the Thunder in Oklahoma City just 24 hours prior, the Timberwolves are now 4-2 on the second night of back-to-back games, with one of their losses coming on the road to the Golden State Warriors.

It wasn’t pretty, but in a strange twist of fate, the third quarter was actually when the Wolves’ made hay on Monday night after a sloppy first half.

The Hawks led by two after a first quarter that saw Karl-Anthony Towns score 12 of Minnesota’s 23 points without missing a shot from the field or the free throw line. Outside of KAT, the offense was rough and the rebounding and defense wasn’t any better.

But the bench held their own in the second quarter, and by the time that the starters began to reenter the game midway through the frame, Minnesota had overtaken the visitors.

The offense was disjointed, and the bench was pretty bad overall. Shabazz Muhammad, Kris Dunn, and Nemanja Bjelica combined to shoot just 8-of-26 (30.7 percent) from the field. Andrew Wiggins had just four points at halftime and Gorgui Dieng and Ricky Rubio were struggling from the field.

Towns and Zach LaVine were the only positive influences on the Wolves’ offense, heading into halftime as the Hawks trimmed the Wolves lead from the mid-teens back down to nine points.

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The third quarter was a boon for Minnesota, however. Wiggins got hot, Towns stayed hot, and LaVine came back in and finished the Hawks off in short order. And while the offense still wasn’t great, the activity and effort in gathering loose balls and chasing Hawks players around screens was just good enough.

The Wolves led by 26 points at one point but the reserves allowed the Hawks’ bench players to whittle the lead all the way down to just 14 points by the time the buzzer had sounded, which no doubt drew the ire of Tom Thibodeau.

But all things considered, this was another good win by the Wolves, and Friday night’s debacle and Sunday night’s disappointing loss on a national stage notwithstanding, the month of December has gone decidedly better than October and November.

Tweets of the Night

Star of the Night

Karl-Anthony Towns: 22 points (8-8 FG, 3-3 3P, 3-3 FT), 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks, one turnover

Towns was fantastic. He scored 12 points in the first quarter but picked up two early fouls and a third one in the final minute before halftime, and yet maintained his perfect shooting throughout.

He opened the second half with a dunk off of a nice pass from Wiggins, and continued knocking down open shots and tough finishes in the lane. Between the foul trouble and the blowout nature of the game, Towns was only asked to play 31 minutes, but he was ultra-efficient in his limited time.

Notable Timberwolves Lines

  • Zach LaVine: 21 points (7-16 FG, 6-9 3P, 1-1 FT), 3 assists, one rebound, one steal, 4 turnovers
  • Andrew Wiggins: 21 points (7-14 FG, 4-6 3P, 3-4 FT), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, one steal
  • Ricky Rubio: 3 points (1-4 FG, 1-3 3P), 10 assists, one rebound, one steal, zero turnovers
  • Gorgui Dieng: 14 points (6-12 FG, 2-2 FT), 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 2 turnovers

LaVine was on fire early but was asked to shoot the ball a ton when playing with the reserves as the second unit continues to struggle, leading to a so-so shooting percentage overall. He continues to be deadly from beyond the arc, however.

Wiggins was solid throughout and finally came out of his horrific shooting slump from downtown. He was efficient and actually did a solid job filling out the box score.

Once again, Rubio was the straw the stirs the drink, although he seemed even more unwilling to shoot the ball than usual. Per the above tweet, Thibodeau was quite pleased with his point guard play (Kris Dunn only committed one turnover in 24 minutes), and Rubio continues to take care of the ball amazingly well.

Dieng missed a few mid-range jumpers to open the game but was great from that point on. He was active on defense and moved the ball well on offense.

Next: Is Andrew Wiggins Improving...Or Stagnating?

Who’s Up Next?

The Wolves head to Denver to take on the 12-18 Nuggets. In an odd quirk, the Wolves have yet to face their young division rivals through the first 30-plus games of the season. It should be an interesting match-up before the Wolves return home to host the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.