The Wolves came into this game not necessarily needing to win, but with a chance to clinch a playoff berth they were going act like this was a must-win. Technically they could have lost this game and still had a chance to get into the playoffs by beating Denver on Wednesday. It would have been one of the most embarrassing losses in the NBA this season, but not necessary.

    For awhile it seemed like things were headed down that dark path. The Grizzly cubs (running a lineup with an average age of 21.6 years old) put up a huge fight without their lead bear Marc Gasol (and countless others) and led by 10 points at multiple points in the second quarter.

    The Wolves were getting open looks but nothing was falling for them, especially in the paint where the team shot just 4-of-16 in the first quarter.

    Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns decided enough was enough, though, and along with Tyus Jones and Derrick Rose the Wolves went on a big run in the second quarter to take a three-point halftime lead.

    The four players combined to score 31 of the team’s 36 points in the second quarter on 12-of-16 shooting. From there the Wolves took control and outscored the Grizzlies by 16 points in the latter half, never quite threatening again.

    Butler looks like he was never injured the way he’s been flying around the court, despite the limited minutes. Tonight he finished with 15 points, three assists, two rebounds and three steals in 23 minutes. He played 23 minutes in his last game as well.

    Depending on the importance of this final game against Denver (even if the Wolves clinch, seeding could be on the line), Butler will probably once again be on a minutes restriction. If it’s all hands on deck, expect Butler to be fully unleashed.

    Towns had the best line of the night with 24 points, 18 rebounds, two assists and one block on 11-of-14 shooting. He didn’t attempt a 3-pointer tonight. This season Towns was averaging under 12 points and under 40 percent shooting against the Grizzlies, but tonight broke out in a major way. It had been the one team he couldn’t quite solve yet.

    Jeff Teague also had a nice game with 24 points, eight assists, four rebounds, three steals, one block and one 3-pointer. He was attacking the paint off the dribble especially well tonight. After shooting 25 percent in the paint in the first quarter, the team shot 71 percent the rest of the way (25-of-35) and Teague was a major part of that. As was this pass from Jimmy Butler.

    The Wolves are still playing too inconsistent to feel comfortable going into Wednesday, and hopefully beyond, but they’ve shown flashes over the past few games that are encouraging and having Butler back is obviously a massive plus.

    All the Wolves can do now is sit back and watch things play out. They can potentially clinch a playoff berth tonight with some help from the Spurs and Blazers, but regardless of the outcomes will be ready for their final game of the season on Wednesday.

    Either way it will be a huge game. Whether it’s because everything is on the line, or a 48-minute celebration remains to be seen.

    One final note, Taj Gibson exited the first quarter and didn’t return with a neck injury. It’s unknown how serious the injury is at the moment, but Taj is a huge cog for the defense and would be a huge loss if it’s a long term issue.

Fantasy News

  • Monty Williams - Team - Phoenix Suns

    Adrian Wojnarowksi of ESPN is reporting that the timing on the dismissal of Igor Kokoskov from the Suns was partly rooted in their desire to compete against the Lakers in pursuit of Sixers assistant coach Monty Williams.

    Suns GM James Jones played under Williams while he was an assistant coach with the Blazers, and new senior VP of basketball operations Jeff Bower hired Williams as head coach of the Pelicans in 2010. The Suns' next coach will be their seventh in an eight-season span which is all you need to know about the franchise’s direction. The Lakers are planning on a second meeting with Williams later this week, assuming the Sixers defeat the Nets on Tuesday to end their first-round series.

    Source: ESPN

  • Igor Kokoskov - Team - Phoenix Suns

    The Suns on Monday night announced that they have fired head coach Igor Kokoskov after just one year on the job.

    After the end of the season, it looked like Phoenix had planned to bring Kokoskov back for a second year, especially after the team's strong play in late stages of the calendar. “After extensive evaluation, I determined it is best to move in a different direction with our head coaching position," Suns GM James Jones said in a statement. Former GM Ryan McDonough, hired Kokoskov away from his assistant job with the Utah Jazz last May but he was also let go nine days before the start of the season. Kokoskov has been a well-respected tactician who becomes another victim of the constant turnover in Phoenix but he should have no problem finding another job as an assistant in the near future.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Chris Paul - G - Houston Rockets

    Chris Paul had a great Game 4 in Monday's 91-107 loss to the Jazz with 23 points on 8-of-19 shooting with eight rebounds, seven assists, five steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers.

    Paul had a nice breakaway dunk late in the fourth, showing that he's still got the hops and his defense throughout tonight was also solid. He brought back some of his vintage layup package, but the Rockets as a whole went cold from deep late in the game and couldn't stop Donovan Mitchell's barrage in the fourth quarter.

  • Jae Crowder - F - Utah Jazz

    Jae Crowder finally had a strong night offensively in Monday's Game 4 with 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting to go with four rebounds, an assist, two steals and three 3-pointers.

    Crowder had 18 first half points which would have been the most he's scored in any game this series. He was on fire to start the first period and his energy levels were much higher tonight. The Jazz finally got a strong game out of Crowder on both ends of the floor and he'll have to keep nailing shots for the Jazz to drag out this series.

  • Rudy Gobert - C - Utah Jazz

    Rudy Gobert logged 24 foul-plagued minutes in Monday's Game 4 and scored four points on 2-of-4 shooting with nine rebounds, two assists, a steal and three blocks.

    Gobert was a net-positive whenever he was on the floor tonight and he's getting better at keeping up with Houston's guards on the perimeter. He's blocked several of James Harden's floaters over the past two games and has dominated the paint when he plays, but was limited due to fouls tonight. Derrick Favors (24 minutes, 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting with 11 rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block) more than carried his weight tonight as he kept the Rockets at bay with his suffocating defense inside the paint in the final period of action.

  • Clint Capela - C - Houston Rockets

    Clint Capela struggled in Monday's Game 4, scoring four points on 1-of-6 shooting with seven rebounds and two assists in 28 minutes.

    Capela went 2-for-6 at the line and he was severely limited in tonight's game as he struggled with Utah's physicality. The normal lobs he received from James Harden were much more difficult to control tonight and he had trouble finishing around the rim. We expect him to be much better in the next game.

  • Donovan Mitchell - G - Utah Jazz

    Donovan Mitchell carried the Jazz in their 107-91 win over the Rockets in Game 4 on Monday with 31 points on 11-of-26 shooting to go with seven rebounds, four assists, a steal and three 3-pointers.

    Mitchell finally got some help from his teammates tonight as they helped carry the team's offensive burden throughout the first three periods. In the final quarter, Mitchell scored the Jazz's first 13 points and ended up with 19 fourth quarter points. He had a dazzling spin move, some deep triples and a freakishly athletic alley-oop dunk all in the span of 12 minutes and has kept the Jazz season alive for at least another game due to his heroic efforts. Although the team as a whole has struggled offensively, Mitchell showed his superstar potential tonight.

  • Ricky Rubio - G - Utah Jazz

    Ricky Rubio scored 18 points on 6-of-17 shooting while adding 11 assists, three rebounds, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer in Game 4 on Monday.

    Rubio played much better defense on Houston's guards tonight but was still unable to stretch the floor with his shooting as he went 1-for-7 from deep. If he can make incremental improvements on his defensive assignment while hitting a couple more triples, the Jazz have a good shot at extending this series.

  • James Harden - G - Houston Rockets

    James Harden scored 30 points on 8-of-19 shooting with three rebounds, four assists, two steals and six 3-pointers in Game 4 on Monday.

    Harden is facing one of the toughest defenses in the league so the shots he makes are difficult. The step-back 3s were on full display tonight, but Harden had difficulty penetrating the Jazz defense whenever Rudy Gobert was manning the paint. Although his shooting percentages were high, he committed eight turnovers as the mid-range territory is one of the hardest to navigate. Gobert is predicting his floaters and Clint Capela couldn't grab and finish the usual lob passes which hampered Harden's success tonight. He's slowly figuring out the Jazz defense and if Capela can return to form we can expect his assist numbers to spike.

  • Eric Gordon - G - Houston Rockets

    Eric Gordon scored 16 points on 5-of-12 shooting with five 3-pointers, a rebound, an assist and a block in Monday's Game 4.

    Gordon started off hot and did all the stuff the Rockets expected him to do, but late in the game he was unable to hit timely shots for Houston. He'll get another crack at some open looks due to Utah's defensive scheme.