December 26, 2017, 2:11 am
In the closing game of the holiday slate, the Wolves were able to knock around the Lakers en route to a 121-104 victory. Minnesota was playing their usual sloppy-yet-effective offensive game, taking a lot of tough shots at a slow pace yet still finished the game with great offensive numbers. They shot 58.3 percent as a team and made 11 3-pointers.
They won three of the four quarters tonight, including the fourth quarter once again.
There were a number of great individual performances on the night as well, led by Towns, Butler and Gibson. Towns scored 21 points and added 10 rebounds, two assists, one steal, four blocks and two 3-pointers. He shot 7-of-12 from the field and 5-of-6 from the line. He also threw down a couple of massive dunks and had a couple of over the shoulder passes.
His defense was up-and-down, which can be considered an improvement. His footwork still was out of whack, but he was a solid weak-side help defender.
Butler put up 23 points, eight assists, five rebounds, two steals and one 3-pointer. He only shot one-of-seven from 3-point range and didn’t get to the free throw line. It wasn’t his best offensive performance but it worked out enough in this game.
Gibson posted 23 points and nine rebounds on 11-of-13 shooting. He had been struggling on offense in recent games but was able to get whatever he wanted tonight. Defensively he was matched-up with Kyle Kuzma for the majority of the game and it was a mismatch for both guys.
Gibson struggled to keep up with Kuzma in the open floor and off the dribble, so he was forced to give him some space on the perimeter. Kuzma decided to bomb from deep then with the extra space. It paid off for the Lakers as Kuzma scored 31 points with six 3-pointers, adding four assists, three rebounds, two steals and a block.
This game was somewhat close through three quarters. Coming in with the Lakers being short-handed, and significantly less talented than the Wolves (who were playing at full-strength with Bjelica back), it was getting a little tense headed into the final quarter.
The defense was hit and miss throughout the game, but generally the Lakers were getting many good looks and just weren’t finishing their shots. The Wolves offense was sloppy and isolated, but still managed to put up 121 on a solid defensive team.
The Lakers’ pace is dictated a lot by Lonzo Ball, and Clarkson is certainly more of an isolation scorer as opposed to a floor general, so the Lakers pace and flow was certainly off. Normally the style of play for the Lakers is a bad matchup for the Wolves, and through three quarters even without Ball they managed to keep it close.
It will be interesting to see if Ball is healthy their next meeting how things turn out, these two teams meet again on New Year’s Day. Regardless of it all, the Wolves will take tonight’s win.
That’s just how Timberwolves games have played out all season. It’s never pretty and it’s never easy, yet somehow they now sit at 21-13 headed back home to take on the Nuggets on Wednesday.