• So who saw that one coming?

    In the first battle for the north, the Wolves were hit with some bad news just minutes before tip-off. Jimmy Butler was announced inactive with knee soreness, as was Jamal Crawford with a toe injury.

    The Wolves were facing off with one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference without their best player, defender and leader, as well as his primary backup. The Raptors’ backcourt is among the best in the NBA so losing his presence was a huge blow.

    On top of that, when Butler was out for two games earlier in the season the Wolves lost by 23 points and 21 points on consecutive nights. An enticing matchup turned into a potential blowout.

    Instead the Wolves showed how far they’ve come along this season. Thanks to Towns, Wiggins and some excellent play from the bench the Wolves were able to top Toronto 115-109 in an exhilarating second half.

    Nemanja Bjelica stepped into the starting lineup for Butler as the Wolves looked to play big. The Raptors controlled most of the first half, however, thanks to some early foul trouble from Towns. He ended up playing only eight minutes in the first quarter.

    Wiggins stepped up in the scoring department with the majority of the Wolves’ firepower on the bench with 14 early points, including two highlight reel dunks, keeping the Wolves close enough to keep the game from unraveling on them.

    The Wolves trailed by eight at halftime but quickly climbed out of the deficit with a monster third quarter led by Towns and the whistles. The Wolves outscored the Raptors 33-21 on the quarter and lived at the line. Towns scored 10 of the Wolves’ first 14 points of the quarter.

    As the second half went on and the Wolves’ bench entered the game they only carried the momentum further. Tyus Jones and Marcus Georges-Hunt were flying around the court defensively with a lot of energy. They were aggressive in attacking the rim and drawing fouls as well. Even Shabazz Muhammad got in on the action.

    The bench attempted 18 free throws on the night which led to a major free throw discrepancy for the game in favor of the Wolves. They out shot the Raptors from the line 42-to-21.

    The game was coming down to the wire late in the fourth with the Wolves trailing by one point and 2:25 left on the clock. Georges-Hunt tipped out an offensive rebound and Wiggins splashed a 3-pointer to give the Wolves the lead for good. A possession later Towns nailed a 3-pointer to top it all off.

    This was a very impressive performance for a number of reasons. Obviously with Butler out it was a huge win but the Wolves were actually able to control most of the major factors at the end of the game.

    The teams were basically tied in field goal percentage at 47.0 percent for Toronto and 46.9 percent for Minnesota. The Wolves won the rebounding battle and the turnover battle. Their bench also out-played the Raptors.

    If it wasn’t for Kyle Lowry’s 40-point singular effort it’s possible the Wolves are talking about a blowout.

    Towns finished the game with 22 points on 6-of-7 shooting with 10 rebounds, two assists, one block and two 3-pointers. He also shot 8-of-9 from the line.

    Wiggins finished with 29 points, five rebounds, three assists and one 3-pointer on 11-of-21 shooting.

    The huge boost came from the bench though, led by Georges-Hunt. He finished with 12 points, three rebounds, two assists and one 3-pointer. He played 29 minutes on the night as well. Though he didn’t start the game, he was out there to finish it off and came up with some huge plays on both sides in the final minutes.

    He had the aforementioned offensive rebound, he took a charge on DeRozan and hit some free throws too.

    It was a necessary performance from the kid and a major confidence boost. Of course we’ve seen this before with Thibs after Jones came up with huge games but is relegated back to limited minutes in a normal rotation. This was a good preview of what the Wolves have stashed away though.

    This was a huge win for the Wolves that makes up for some of the painful losses they’ve made this season. They had no business winning this game if this was last year’s team. Instead the young players showed the growth they’ve had and stepped up big.

    The Wolves still have yet to lose three or more games in a row this season, only the Raptors can match that. The streak was saved tonight.

    Next week the Wolves travel to the west coast for three games beginning with the Los Angeles Clippers. It is unknown at this time what the severity of Butler and Crawford’s injuries are but the Wolves will be playing with fire if they continue to miss time.

Fantasy News

  • Ricky Rubio
    PG, Phoenix Suns

    Update: Ricky Rubio (back spasms) is now doubtful to play on Monday.

    This came out of nowhere. Rubio could play but he won't be in there to start the game. Jevon Carter will start in Rubio's place. Carter could be a worthwhile spot-starter, especially if you're looking for steals.

    Source: Duane Rankin on Twitter

  • Hamidou Diallo
    SG, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Hamidou Diallo (left knee sprain) is listed as questionable for Monday's game against the Clippers.

    We should know his status for tonight shortly. Diallo missed the previous game and prior to that, he'd been getting solid minutes but the only thing of note that he'd been providing was steals.

    Source: NBA.com

  • Shabazz Napier
    PG, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Shabazz Napier (right hamstring strain) is listed as out for Monday's game vs. the Jazz.

    Napier will miss his eighth straight game. Having been first listed as doubtful for tonight, we still might not see him for a few games.

    Source: NBA.com

  • Buddy Hield
    SG, Sacramento Kings

    The NBA has fined Buddy Hield $25,000 for punting the ball into stands at the conclusion of the Kings win over the Celtics on Sunday.

    At least it wasn't a suspension of any sort. Hield is carrying some extra weight with De'Aaron Fox out for a while. He should have more than a few games worth celebrating in that span.

    Source: James Ham on Twitter

  • Josh Okogie
    SG, Minnesota Timberwolves

    Josh Okogie will play on Monday despite some prior left knee soreness.

    Okogie was able to participate in shootaround, so this isn't too surprising. The move diminishes the values of Jarrett Culver and Jake Layman. Okogie can contribute steals but has shot poorly from long range this season.

    Source: Chris Hine on Twitter

  • Kawhi Leonard
    SF, Los Angeles Clippers

    Kawhi Leonard has been ruled out of Monday's game due to a left knee contusion.

    Leonard hasn't played since Wednesday. Doc Rivers expected him to participate in this one, but is no longer be the case. Paul George could have another big game in his absence.

    Source: Ramona Shelburne on Twitter

  • Daniel Gafford
    PF, Chicago Bulls

    According to Jim Boylen, Daniel Gafford will play "first half minutes" against the Bucks on Monday.

    Luke Kornet is recovering from nose surgery, so Gafford will be given some more time after his recall from the G League. However, he is not a recommended play unless his role increases dramatically.

    Source: K.C. Johnson on Twitter

  • Russell Westbrook
    PG, Houston Rockets

    After missing Saturday's game for rest purposes, Russell Westbrook will start on Monday.

    Westbrook is filling the stat sheet this season with 21.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game. Austin Rivers and Ben McLemore should see their fantasy values drop.

    Source: Jonathan Feigen on Twitter

  • Clint Capela
    C, Houston Rockets

    Clint Capela is back in the lineup on Monday after having concussion issues.

    Capela was injured on Wednesday but is ready to return. Isaiah Hartenstein should go back to a diminished role, while Capela is a double-double waiting to happen on a nightly basis.

    Source: Jonathan Feigen on Twitter

  • Danuel House
    PF, Houston Rockets

    Danuel House is in the starting lineup on Monday after missing time with a back bruise.

    House was injured on November 10 but is finally good to go. He's averaging 11.8 points and 4.9 rebounds. House is also valuable because he can knock down threes. Austin Rivers should lose some playing time as a result.

    Source: Jonathan Feigen on Twitter