February 27, 2018, 1:02 am
The Timberwolves managed to take care of their warmup game in Sacramento before heading out to Portland. Unlike the last meeting between these two teams just a couple of weeks ago, the Wolves were able to handle the Kings with ease and go on to win 118-100.
The game had a good pace going through the first half, with both teams trading baskets and the general feel resembling more of a practice game. Each team was running their offense with minimal resistance, the whistles were few and far between and the score continued to run up.
It wasn’t particularly exciting basketball, per say, because both teams were able to just run their normal offense. There were not huge runs or massive defensive plays. There were no signature dunks or breakaways, it was just clean basketball (albeit with no defense).
The Kings, playing with a shortened rotation (Zach Randolph, Vince Carter and Garrett Temple all resting), just seemingly got bit by adjustments. Going into halftime the Wolves led 63-60, but coming out of the half held the Kings to just 40 points.
Buddy Hield was the Kings best scorer in the first half, with 13 points, but was held to just three points in the second half.
On the other side the Kings just couldn’t find a way to slow down any of the Wolves’ starters. Each starter had at least 12 points, with three over 20 points.
Karl-Anthony Towns just dominated Willie Cauley-Stein all night, missing just one shot total. He finished with 26 points, 17 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks on 9-of-10 shooting and 8-of-8 from the line. He didn’t take a 3-pointer tonight, but he didn’t need to. He had a couple of really nice passes, including one to Gibson.
— Kevin Brand (@KBranded) February 27, 2018
Gibson scored 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting and was able to out-muscle Skal Labissiere in the paint for great positioning. He added five rebounds, two assists and a block to his stat line.
Jeff Teague had an up-and-down game. On offense he scored 20 points with seven assists, four rebounds and was 11-of-12 at the line but only 4-of-14 from the field. On defense he found himself out of position a few times and getting beat by the speedy De’Aaron Fox a few times. Overall this type of game is fine most nights.
Andrew Wiggins scored 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting, while Nemanja Bjelica stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists, four steals and two 3-pointers.
As a team the Wolves only attempted 16 3-pointers, making seven, but they really didn’t need to take more because they were able to carve up the Kings inside the paint. The Wolves scored 52 points in the paint and 33 points at the free throw line, both well above their season average.
They shot an excellent 52 percent overall, 43.8 percent from beyond the arc and 91.7 percent at the line with only 12 turnovers and winning the rebound battle by 11. Not many teams will lose with team stats like that.
The Wolves are now 2-0 without Jimmy Butler. Granted, they’ve faced off with two of the worst teams in the NBA, but they have seemingly floated past the initial shock of the injury and are poised to face the final tough stretch of their regular season.
Starting this Thursday the next eight games are versus teams over .500, four coming on the road and four at home. This isn’t likely going to decide the fate of the season, but it can make things real tough on the Wolves should they struggle. With 18 games left, coming out of this next stretch in a position to compete is paramount.
That quest begins on Thursday in Portland.