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.

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