December 3, 2017, 10:51 pm
At one point it was looking like the Wolves were about to lose to an inferior opponent once again. The Clippers were getting plenty of open looks and found a rhythm, nailing 15 3-pointers and shooting 50.7 percent from the field.
In contrast the Wolves shot only 43.2 percent from the field and hit eight 3-pointers.
Luckily they were able to take 15 more shots than the Clippers thanks to 14 offensive rebounds, to the Clips’ eight, and generating 16 turnovers while committing only seven.
Jimmy Butler was the main man for the Wolves tonight scoring a season-high 33 points on 50 percent shooting. Coming into this game it was expected Butler would be able to get whatever he wanted on offense thanks to a Clippers’ defense lacking a perimeter force and he did just that, though it took him some time.
After shooting only 1-of-5 at half time Butler came alive in the second half, shooting 9-of-15. In the fourth quarter alone he scored 20 points, single-handedly closing the game.
Though it may sound like an overstatement he needed this type of performance to win this game for the Wolves. Down the stretch the Wolves’ defense was collapsing every possession. Without Butler’s efforts it’s probable the outcome changes for the worse.
Butler chipped in eight rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers while shooting 11-of-13 from the line.
Some of the aforementioned miscues led to a 30 point effort out of Austin Rivers on 7-of-10 3-pointers, and a 17 point, 12 rebound performance on 8-of-8 shooting from DeAndre Jordan. This marks the second straight game a center has gone perfect from the field versus the Wolves.
There were also some dramatic mishaps with Towns tonight. Throughout the fourth quarter it looked like Towns completely forgot what he was doing.
One play Taj Gibson went to help the ball driving into the lane and Towns, as the back-side help, needed to slide over and help defend Jordan, but he only half-heartedly put a hand on him while he rose for a dunk.
Another play Towns was guarding Taj’s man, while Taj was also guarding him, and doesn’t realize until the play is over, resulting in another dunk. Gibson gave Towns an earful after that one.
Again late in the fourth three Wolves’ players end up being out of position which leaves a wide open Jordan for another dunk. Towns made the mistake of leaving Jordan under the rim for no reason, but this was a team-wide blunder.
After the game Butler commented that they just “outscored their opponent again” and he “wants to play some defense” soon. It’s clear he’s referring to the team wide effort here and not just himself.
For the Wolves a handful of their problems could be fixed with better communication and trust in each other. There are deficiencies that need to be ironed out through practice and sheer will, but communication and trust is theoretically the easiest to build.
As a team that’s generally new with each other it’s expected that good communication wasn’t going to be there right away. It gets tough to watch at times, but it’s a work in progress. Now getting Towns to stay grounded instead of going for impossible block attempts will require more interventions.
Taj Gibson put up 20 points and 11 rebounds this game, taking full advantage of the mismatch (when Jordan wasn’t guarding him). Towns scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds himself. He only took 13 shots because he was consistently double teamed on nearly every post touch.
Wiggins couldn’t get a perimeter shot to fall, going 0-of-5 from downtown and 4-of-15 overall for 12 points.
Teague scored nine points and had 10 assists in 35 minutes, compared to Tyus Jones’ five points and three assists in 13 minutes. It’s pretty disappointing to see Jones once again buried on the bench so far even though he continues to look really sharp.
Crawford scored 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting and 2-of-7 from 3-point range. When his shot isn’t falling, there’s no reason he should see more minutes than Tyus. Tonight Crawford played 18 minutes.
The Wolves head to Memphis tonight to play the Grizzlies tomorrow and look to sweep the back-to-back set against another struggling Western Conference power.
For mobile users here are the defensive miscues mentioned above (sorry desktop users!):
Karl-Anthony Towns has to get in front of Deandre Jordan when Taj Gibson goes to help here. Just standing behind Jordan does nothing to hinder the easy dunk. pic.twitter.com/QVDXLg9SRb
— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) December 4, 2017
Here's the full LAC possession this occurred on. pic.twitter.com/Mz9iL5rbNW
— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) December 4, 2017