Minnesota Timberwolves powered by Luka Garza’s 30 to 4th win

(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves sat the starters for their fourth preseason game, but do not think that the team was any less capable behind the lesser-known players on the Timberwolves roster. The Timberwolves made it a point not only to improve the team this season but to improve the team from top to bottom.

And yet, if you look at the final stats for this game, you won’t find any contribution from the likes of Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, or even Rudy Gobert.  This was not about injuries, but about affording one of the most precious components of any NBA player’s career – playing time – to the players who have not had the chance to compete. Until now, that is.

The Minnesota Timberwolves did not just sit two injured players: Rookie SG Jaylen Clark and SF Jaden McDaniels, but the team sat all five starters. Included in that group are the three veterans named above, plus PG Mike Conley Jr. and SG/SF Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

Timberwolves rest players but compete hard

But Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch took it all a bit further and sat back-up center Naz Reid, forward Kyle Anderson guard Shake Milton, and even PG Jordan McLaughlin. All totaled, the Timberwolves sat 12 players for the fourth preseason game of the season.

The Timberwolves 21-man roster was whittled down to just nine players in game four to compete against Maccabi Ra’anana, an Israeli semi-pro team that completed a three-game USA preseason basketball tour.

Maccabi Ra’anana, a basketball team that began in 1980, is an Israeli National League basketball team that competes in Ra’anana, Israel, which is just north of Tel Aviv, Israel. They had played the Brooklyn Nets, and Cleveland Cavaliers, and ended their tour against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

If you thought that this game would not be competitive or entertaining, you would have been wrong. This game started off with Ra’Anana jumping out to a seven-point lead in the first quarter, a lead that the Timberwolves did not reclaim until three minutes had passed in the second quarter.  The Timberwolves proceeded to go on a 22-0 run that rocketed them out to a comfortable 15-point lead, a lead that they would not surrender for the rest of the game.

Wolves win behind these players’ heroics

F Josh Minott may not be the player who you automatically think of on the Timberwolves roster who facilitates the play of his teammates, but he ended the game with 32 minutes, 23 points, six rebounds, and six assists. He also accounted for three of five Timberwolves blocks in this one.

G Daishen Nix was an absolute sniper for the Timberwolves in this one, scoring on five of his six attempted perimeter shots. In fact, he ended the game with one of two Timberwolves Double-Doubles, as he also dished out 10 assists in this one to go with 19 points scored off the bench.

F Leonard Miller showed off his rebounding skillset, putting on his best Rudy Gobert impersonation as he hauled in 15 rebounds in this one. Just to put it all in perspective, that was 33 percent of the total Timberwolves rebounds, and the runner-up in rebounding, Ra’Anana’s Bruno Caboclo, only came down with nine. He claimed the second Double-Double for the Timberwolves, as he paired 22 points to go with his 15 rebounds.

C Luka Garza proved that all of his offseason hard work does pay off handsomely. He led everyone in scoring, putting 30 points on the scoreboard for the Timberwolves in this one.

Still, the way that he did so is noteworthy. He shot  9 of 15 from the floor (60 percent), 2 of 5 from the perimeter(40 percent), and 10 of 12 from the free-throw line (83.3 percent). He individually scored more than half of the Timberwolves 17 made free throws.

Luke Garza continues to make a compelling case as a player who is most deserving of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 15th and final roster slot. If that does not happen, I am convinced that some other NBA team will dangle a full contract under his nose.

The Minnesota Timberwolves (4-0) victory has the Timberwolves with just one preseason game left, a road game to face the Chicago Bulls on Thursday, October 19, 2023, at 7:00 pm CT. The Timberwolves are the first and only NBA team to win four preseason games so far. Let’s hope that this success carries over to the 2023-24 regular season.

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