January 23, 2018, 2:11 am
The Minnesota Timberwolves won 31 games last season.
Tonight the Wolves picked up their 31st win and the season with more than 40 percent of their games left to go.
Earlier in the season the Wolves lost their two games without Jimmy Butler by 23 and 21 points respectively.
Tonight the Wolves won their second straight without Butler, both times over current playoff teams.
It’s been an incredible season of growth for the Wolves so far and things don’t look to be slowing down as illustrated by those two points above. The Wolves have come a long way in such a short amount of time and it’s been led by the development of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Of course Jimmy Butler is still the leader of this team, Taj Gibson continues to have a career-season and Jeff Teague, along with a number of role players, have made positive contributions, but it’s come down to the fact that Towns and Wiggins have seemingly bought into the system and have matured beyond what was expected this season.
There are still bumps in the road and these guys are far from perfect, but these last two games are not games the Wolves would have won in the past, sans Butler.
The performance tonight is probably best categorized as “organized chaos”, but being able to seal these games without the Wolves’ current closer, Butler, serves as a major moral boost for the team. They’ll only be stronger once Butler returns.
Again not all was perfect tonight. The defense was far from their best, allowing the Clippers to shoot 56 percent from the field, letting Blake Griffin put up a triple-double and getting torched by Montrezl Harrel off the bench.
The offense more than made up for it though, led by a masterful performance from Wiggins. Early on in the game it was clear the Wolves have “aggressive and engaged” Wiggins, which is typically the dominating one.
Tonight he torched the Clippers for 40 points on 16-of-28 shooting with six rebounds, one assist, one block and three 3-pointers. He was throwing down assertive dunks, running the floor in transition and hitting shots all over the floor. He shot 10-of-13 inside the paint and 3-of-7 from beyond the arc. He still needs to cut down his mid-range jumpers though.
His backcourt mate Teague went for 30 points in what was his best game of the season. He shot 7-of-14 from the field and 15-of-16 from the free throw line, while picking up six assists and three rebounds. Nearly all of Teague’s shots came from the middle of the floor, with only four attempts outside the paint.
Nemanja Bjelica has a season-best game as well in another start. He finished with 18 points, nine rebounds, four assists, one steal and three 3-pointers on 6-of-13 shooting in 35 minutes.
Towns only shot 1-of-7 from the field in this one, finishing with 11 points thanks to 9-of-10 free throw attempts, but he picked up 17 rebounds, three assists and one block. This was not a great night for Towns though. He was inconsistent at best and made an incredibly bone-headed turnover with 26 seconds left in a one-possession game.
Luckily the Wolves were saved by Blake Griffin making consecutive bone-headed turnovers on the ensuing possessions.
A situation like this could play out to be beneficial for Towns though. The Wolves have reached a point where they can teach through a player’s failure and still manage to win games.
The victories continue to pile up for the Wolves. They now hold the tie breaker over three of the six teams behind them in the playoff race. They hold the third overall seed on their own at the moment, jumping the Spurs with this victory. They can lock up another tie-breaker if they can beat the Trail Blazers in their next game on Wednesday.
From here on the schedule get really tough for the Wolves though. They take on the Warriors and the Raptors again, both on the road and both on the second of back-to-backs. Hopefully the Wolves can welcome back Butler soon, despite managing the previous two games without him.
Before the game Thibs gave an update on Butler and Crawford’s status. Butler had a test done on his knee and he’s day-to-day with soreness. Crawford sprained his toe and is day-to-day as well. The Wolves are confident both will return soon. Hopefully by the Thursday night matchup in Oakland.
November 19, 2019, 11:10 pmBrandon IngramSF, New Orleans Pelicans
Brandon Ingram (right knee soreness) looked good in his return from a four-game absence with 21 points (8-for-20 FGs, 4-for-4 FTs), seven rebounds, five assists, two steals, one block and one 3-pointer in 35 minutes in a win over the Blazers on Tuesday.
With the Pelicans still ravaged by injuries, Ingram jumped right back in and filled up the box score. It's a good sign that he was able to play 35 minutes in his first game back. Ingram probably won't stick in the top-25 all season, but he may be able to stay close while the Pelicans are missing up to five rotation players.
November 19, 2019, 10:58 pmCJ McCollumSG, Portland Trail Blazers
C.J. McCollum had a well-rounded game without Damian Lillard in a loss on Tuesday night, providing 22 points (9-of-22 FGs), four rebounds, five assists, two steals, one block and four 3-pointers in 35 minutes.
That's a great game from McCollum, though the usage was pretty much the same as when he plays with Lillard. McCollum usually gets a bigger boost when he's running the show, so keep an eye on Lillard's status for Thursday's game as it could be another chance for C.J. to go off.
November 19, 2019, 10:49 pmHassan WhitesideC, Portland Trail Blazers
Hassan Whiteside sank all four of his free throws and double-doubled with 14 points (5-of-7 FGs), 14 rebounds and a block in 29 minutes on Tuesday night as the Blazers lost to the Pelicans.
That's at least 10 made free throws in a row for Whiteside, who is up to 78.8 percent from the line for the season. That's playing a big part in his ability to put up fourth-round value through 14 games. While he's not providing first-round value as he once did, Whiteside has made a huge leap this season.
November 19, 2019, 10:41 pmNassir LittleSF, Portland Trail Blazers
Nassir Little moved back to the bench as Carmelo Anthony started at the four on Tuesday, but he put up his first double-double with 12 points (5-of-6 FGs), 11 rebounds, one assist, one steal, two blocks and two 3-pointers in 23 minutes.
The state of the Blazers' frontcourt should help get Little at least 20 minutes per game, but the fact that Anthony is now on the team will cap his upside. Little is still very raw, but tonight's game shows that he can be a worth-while dart-throw, especially if (when) Melo misses games.
November 19, 2019, 10:32 pmAnfernee SimonsSG, Portland Trail Blazers
Anfernee Simons got his first start of the season in place of Damian Lillard (back spasms) on Tuesday vs. the Pelicans and he did reasonably well, putting up 13 points (4-of-13 FGs, 2-of-4 FTs), three rebounds, four assists and three 3-pointers in 36 minutes.
The only other start of Simons' career was last season's finale in which he played all 48 minutes and scored 37 points. He won't be matching that anytime soon, but tonight's serviceable line is another step in the right direction for the 20-year-old. Simons is not worth rostering in a standard league, but he's a fine 3-point streamer, especially when he gets spot starts like this.
November 19, 2019, 10:23 pmCarmelo AnthonyPF, Portland Trail Blazers
Carmelo Anthony debuted for the Blazers and started on Tuesday, going for 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting, four boards, two treys and a block in a 104-115 loss to the Pelicans.
It's a solid start for Melo, who played in just 10 games last season for the Rockets but averaged 13.4 points per game. Damian Lillard (back spasms) missed this game, so he may not get up to 14 field goal attempts on a regular basis. He's not a must-add player in standard leagues, but he's worth paying attention to. And that shouldn't be tough, given all the coverage you're sure to hear.
November 19, 2019, 9:54 pmDraymond GreenPF, Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green sleeved up his banged arm on the bench and looks like he's ready to return to Tuesday's game.
Green is one tough cookie, so it's no surprise that he's gutting this one out. Owners can breathe a sigh of relief.
Source: Anthony Slater on Twitter
November 19, 2019, 9:52 pmDraymond GreenPF, Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green checked out of the game on Tuesday after appearing to bang is elbow during a hard fall.
Green will get his elbow checked out for sure, but hopefully the rough fall mostly just knocked the wind out of him. Stay tuned for updates.
Source: Meghan Triplett on Twitter
November 19, 2019, 9:38 pmTrevor ArizaSF, Sacramento Kings
Trevor Ariza will miss Tuesday's game vs. the Suns due to right groin soreness.
Ariza has not been a player of note in fantasy so far this season, so his absence is of little consequence to most managers. However, with him out, expect to see some younger guys take the minutes he's leaving on the table.
Source: Jason Anderson on Twitter
November 19, 2019, 9:33 pmFrank KaminskyPF, Phoenix Suns
Frank Kaminsky (left hip contusion) is available and listed as a starter for the Suns on Tuesday.
The Tank will be manning the five spot while Aron Baynes (right hip contusion) is sitting this one out, making Kaminsky an intriguing DFS punt play.
Source: Suns on Twitter