The Minnesota Timberwolves got their first win of 2017 with a 101-92 victory over the Dallas Mavericks after they built a 21 point lead and hung on late.
Win or lose, the story remains the same: build a substantial lead behind an excellent performance from one of the Wolves ‘Big Three’, then the team tries their absolute hardest to giveaway said lead.
Karl-Anthony Towns was the excellent performer of the three tonight. The Kentucky product finished the first quarter with 20 points while connecting on all eight of his shot attempts, helping the Wolves win the first quarter by a score of 33-19.
Most teams would take this kind of early lead and run with it. The Wolves, as we all know, are not ‘most teams’.
Kris Dunn, who finished the last two minutes of the first quarter, directed traffic and helped to push the Wolves lead to 46-25 with 6:16 remaining in the second quarter. Surprisingly, the Wolves bench unit was the group who built this lead, though Zach LaVine stayed on the floor and chipped in two threes.
Suddenly, the Mavs seemed to be able to score at will. With 1:47 left in the half, the Mavs had pulled it to within seven at 50-43. The ageless wonder, Dirk Nowitzki, scored the final nine points of the half with three straight threes.
After two periods, the Timberwolves led 54-46, most of which came from Towns’ 24 points, four rebounds and three assists on 10-of-12 shooting. Shabazz Muhammad added his own seven points on an efficient 3-of-5 from the field.
(Of note: at halftime, all 12 of the Mavericks active players had seen playing time compared just nine on the Timberwolves side.)
Between Andrew Wiggins, Dieng, Ricky Rubio, and Towns, the Timberwolves opened up the second half on a 9-2 run. Minnesota would force the lead to 16 before the dreaded, and well known, Timberwolves collapse began.
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Harrison Barnes gave everyone on the Timberwolves fits. Halfway through the third quarter, the former Warrior had an impressive line: 9-of-13 from the field, including 4-of-4 from beyond the arc for 22 points. This would only help the Mavericks claw their way back into this game as the Wolves lead was cut to three before Towns and Muhammad finished the quarter on a quick 4-0 run. of their own to give the Wolves a 77-70 lead.
With only a minute gone in the first quarter, Zach LaVine suffered a left hip contusion and would not see the floor for the rest of the night. He was replaced by Tyus Jones from that point forward.
The first four minutes of the fourth quarter were spent trading buckets before the Wolves tried to end it once and for all by reopening their earlier double digit lead. With 2:45 remaining in the contest, Tyus Jones hit a three at the top of the arc and the Wolves led by 13.
The Mavericks would not come within nine for the rest of the game, though the lead never felt that large. After all of the late game collapses from this team it would not have been impossible for them to lose this one.
Thankfully, the home team held on for a 101-92 victory — their first in the last five games.
Tweet of the Night
Star of the Game
Karl-Anthony Towns – 34 points (15-19 FG, 2-3 3PT, 2-2 FT) 11 rebounds, four assists, one steal, three blocks.
This was a classic Karl-Anthony Towns game; the man can do it all. Even after his extremely hot start Karl went 7-of-11 for 14 points. He continues to show that he can be a force of the defensive end though his effort continues to fluctuate.
Notable Timberwolves Lines
- Ricky Rubio – 13 points (3-9 FG, 0-3 3PT, 7-7 FT) five rebounds, 15 assists, five steals
- Andrew Wiggins – 13 points (5-11 FG, 0-1 3PT, 3-6 FT), four rebounds
- Gorgui Dieng – 12 points (5-8 FG, 2-4 FT), five rebounds.
- The Timberwolves shot 56.1 percent from the field while the Mavericks shot 46.2 percent.
- The Mavericks made 13 threes compared to the Wolves’ six.
- The Wolves stole the ball 11 times to the Mavs three.
- The Mavericks managed zero fast break points while the Wolves put up 17.
As we’ve seen before, Karl-Anthony Towns has the ability to take over a game. If the Timberwolves and KAT want to continue winning, the reigning Rookie of the Year must bring this type of energy and consistency of a regular basis — specifically on the defensive end.
When Rubio is doing his thing, it’s a beautiful sight. The Spaniard is amazing at seeing the floor and getting guys where they need to be. Though his days in Minnesota are likely numbered, Rubio continues to produce at a high level, and it’s something that fans should not take for granted.
Who’s Up Next?
The Timberwolves continue their homestand with a game against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday at 7 p.m.