November 20, 2017, 10:17 pm
This was going to be a tough game when looking at the schedule. After a three-game road trip, the Wolves went back-and-forth home and away the next four games, making it feel like a seven game road trip in a way. It culminated with a home/away back-to-back traveling to another timezone in Charlotte.
Unfortunately the Wolves were unable to pull out the victory and they looked a bit exhausted out there, losing 118-100. The Wolves only scored six points in transition and made only 6-of-27 3-pointers. Minnesota hung in there through three quarters but ultimately fell down the stretch. They had some tired legs out there.
Dwight Howard set the tone for the Hornets, scoring 25 points, grabbing 20 rebounds and blocking four shots. He was bullying Towns in the paint, consistently overpowering him to his spots on the block and on offensive rebounds (six).
He seemed to take Towns out of his game as well. Towns only took four shots heading into the fourth quarter and it wasn’t until the final minutes that KAT started to find his rhythm and shrugged off Howard. He finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and one block. He shot 5-of-10 overall and 8-of-9 from the line.
Howard wasn’t the only big man to hurt the Wolves. Off the bench, Frank Kaminsky put up 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting and four 3-pointers. The Wolves generally struggle to guard mobile stretch “fours” and tonight was no different. Kaminsky was scoring off the dribble with a few spin moves in the paint, and obviously from the perimeter as well.
Jamal Crawford led the Wolves in scoring with 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting. That just about tells the story for the Wolves. The most rested regular on the court was the most active player on offense.
Teague scored 18 points with only two assists. Butler scored 14 points with no assists, but seven rebounds. Wiggins scored only 11 points on 5-of-14 shooting. He could find his groove tonight, and has scored 11 points in three of his last five games.
Bjelica scored seven points, but only took one 3-pointer on the night. He’s been the best shooter from deep on the Wolves and should be letting it lose more often.
Tonight the Wolves adjusted their defense after getting carved up last night (and the entire season) in the pick-and-roll. Normally the Wolves drop the big men in pick-and-roll (P&R) coverage, where the big man backs off and gives the ball handler space to take a mid-range shot but contain drives and the rolling screener.
The Wolves, and Towns particularly, struggled with this coverage. Often times Towns would be caught in between staying too long in coverage and when to return to his man and end up guarding nothing. Tonight the Wolves were having their bigs “blitz” the ball handler, or at least “show” the P&R.
This meant that the Wolves’ bigs would attack the ball-handler as opposed to backing off, this allows the other P&R defender to recover quicker and put a lot of pressure on the ball handler. At best, it creates a turnover and fastbreak opportunity. At the very least, it takes the offense out of their set play and they reset.
A downfall to this is a few quick passes and the roller has an easy basket or the offense finds an open man. So long as the help defense is in position, teams live with the risk.
It wasn’t perfect for the Wolves, but it was good to see a different look than normal. It’s clear their drop coverage wasn’t working consistently and needs more practice. At least now they are showing different looks to keep opposing teams honest.
The Wolves next take on the Magic on Wednesday to begin a much needed four-game homestand.