The Minnesota Timberwolves suited up five new players, none of them named D'Angelo Russell, and still managed to demolish the mighty LA Clippers by 27 points on Saturday night.
The headliner of the acquisitions, D'Angelo Russell, is not yet ready to play due to a quadriceps contusion. However, fans who showed up at Target Center on Saturday night were still treated with a show.
From the opening minutes of the game through the final horn, the Wolves played with somewhere between a million and a billion times more urgency and effort than the humiliating loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night in the same building.
Malik Beasley was the early star, knocking down a pair of threes before the first media timeout. But basically everyone was involved, with six different Wolves players hitting 3-point shots in the first frame alone. Ultimately, 10 different Wolves made threes on the night -- every player that saw the floor until the final two minutes of garbage time in the fourth quarter.
Minnesota's offense looked nothing like a team integrating two new starters, plus a point guard on a two-way contract making his first career start. The ball movement was crisp and on time, with the Wolves only committing five first-half turnovers and just 11 on the night before taking a courtesy shot-clock violation in the closing minute.
The defense was solid, too, with newcomers James Johnson and Juancho Hernangomez putting on a clinic in switching and help defense. It's possible that more opponent ball-handlers were cutoff on the baseline in this game than every other Wolves game this season combined, and that's only a slight exaggeration.
Karl-Anthony Towns was also a bit more motivated in this one, providing solid paint coverage and enough rebounding. On top of that, he was dishing the ball adeptly on offense, coming just an assist shy of a triple-double.
Clearly, the Wolves aren't going to shoot 59.1 percent from beyond the arc every night. But if they play with this passion and effort consistently and continue to focus on ball movement and improving their team defense, it's safe to say that there won't be any other losing streaks approaching 13 games.
In addition to Johnson's 15, the Wolves also got 14 points from Naz Reid on the bench, although it took him 13 shots to get there. Reid pulled down nine rebounds in 14 minutes as well.
Jarrett Culver had five points on seven shot attempts in 23 minutes off the bench but was aggressive defensively as one of four or five players who had stretches guarding either George or Leonard. On the new-look Wolves, a defensive-minded role is likely what Culver will be called up on to fill.
Jaylen Nowell had five points, three assists and two rebounds in 11 minutes, pitching in and splitting time with Johnson as the backup point guard.
Allen Crabbe played 17 minutes but only got up two shots. His one made shot attempt was a buzzer-beater at the end of the third quarter. Crabbe also played good defense in this one as the all-around energy on that end of the floor was ramped up considerably.
The Wolves head north of the border to Toronto to take on the defending-champion Raptors on Monday at 6:30 p.m. CT.