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The Wolves used a late game surge to take the 98-85 victory from the Phoenix Suns on Friday night.
The young Wolves came into Friday’s game having lost 3 straight. After a convincing loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, the Wolves dropped an absolute heart-breaker in a season standard 20 point second half collapse to the Celtics, and a nationally televised dissection by the revitalized and rising New Orleans Pelicans.
The young Wolves came into Friday’s game having lost every close game they played in this season. 0-6; a trend that started all the way back mid-way through last season and has since become the calling card of the T-wolves growing pains. An emotionally challenging hang up for young guys with a lot of expectations unfairly placed on them early in their NBA careers.
The young Wolves came into Friday’s game having lost their confidence and you could see the weight of their self doubt pulling them down like fish hooks for much of the first three quarters. They moved slowly, they passed out of open looks, they squandered turnovers and fast break opportunity. Frankly they looked rattled and completely in their heads. Things felt like they were beginning to unravel.
But then, everything changed. Just when the Wolves looked like they were ready to pack in another loss before heading off to Oakland for what’s sure to be a bummer of a game against a Golden State team riding a 10 game winning streak, something shifted. You could see a stubbornness starting to build. A resilience. A pride. A maturing. And then, just like that, BAM, in a collapse that can really only be described as ‘Wolves like’ the Suns went on a 6min scoring drought and a different wolves team emerged from the ashes as everything seemed to click; the offense started to move with purpose, the shots started falling, the defense tightened and the Suns started missing looks, bricking free throws, and turning the ball over.
And what was the catalyst, you ask? Was it a Wiggins outburst or a Zach attack? No (though Lavine did have one dunk early in the first quarter that will forever alter the very fabric of space time within the Talking Stick Resort Arena), it was Tyus Jones. Jones was game high +22 while on the court. The guy is a straight up winner and he showed it Friday with understated poise. Jones had a modest stat line (6pts, 2reb, 3ast, 2stl) but he had a couple really solid plays capitalized with a knocked down dagger floater to put the game away late in the forth. Jones has given Thibs something to think about a couple times now early in the season and even though Rubio played a decent game (11pts, 4reb, 5stl) compared to the rest of the season he’s been having, the team looked blatantly more organized and comfortable with Jones on the floor Friday.
-Andrew Wiggins was the nights leading scorer with 25pts 5reb 1ast and 1 UN-RECORDED block. The 3 game slump looked like it was gonna get pushed to 4 as AW struggled for much of this game, but he came alive in crunch time and was instrumental in the final push for the win. An up and down performance, let’s see how he responds tomorrow against the Warriors.
-Towns also struggled early but came on strong and continues to be the Wolves most consistent player ending the game with a quiet 22pts, 10reb, 4ast, 1stl, 1blk. Towns is the man. He’s a star. He won the game for the Wolves tonight. The kid is a beast and when he starts getting the calls a player of his caliber deserves, he will be unstoppable. All Hail KAT, destroyer of worlds.
-The Wolves failed to reach 10 3-pointers as they have started to cool off from deep a little. They’re still shooting a respectable .36 from rang but it’s something to keep our eye on.
-The T-Wolves out scored the Suns 31-10 in the fourth quarter. Before that, they played a close contest for much of the first 3 quarters but never seemed like they were in any type of control of the game, even when they briefly took an 8 point lead early on you never got the feeling they were going to keep it. The Suns set the pace early, but the Wolves finished it.
-The Timber Pups were 23 of 25 from the charity stripe. Considering the putrid numbers they’ve put up from the line in other games this year I’m calling this a big key to the win.
-Bledsoe played well and was the leading scorer for the Suns ending the game with a double-double, 23pts, 10ast, 6reb and 3stl. I hope he can stay injury free this year and moving forward cuz he is a huge talent and just an absolute blast to watch. Mini Lebron, as he’s sometimes known, may be a bit of a stretch but you know.. whatever…
The season just started and there’s still A LOT of basketball to be played, but I don’t think the importance of this win can be overstated. There was a lot of learning happening on the court Friday night. Let’s hope in can make an impression.
Next up the wolves play the Warriors on the second night of a back to back (Saturday, November 26, 10:30et)
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