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The Wolves came out as fed up with squandering first half leads in the third quarter as the fans. The team jumped out to a nice offensive rhythm and settled into a consistently attacking game that unsettled the Celtics and made for a 17/25 – 11/14 free throw advantage. When the offense did slip up, the defensive paint play of Karl Towns and Gorgui Deng subdued Al Horford and made up for it.
The Wolves entered the dreaded third with a predictable 10 point lead, maintained it and even extended it to 13 heading into the final frame. But, like an amatuer hurdler realizing they had never made it this far down the track before, began crashing into fourth quarter woes.
Boston, passive on both sides of floor through three, started the fourth quarter on a bit of a run. With Isiah Thomas and Al Horford on the bench, the Celtics ran with the hot hands of Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier for the first seven minutes of the fourth. That run grew from eight to 12 to 17.
The Celtics weren’t blowing passed the Wolves with a stunning array of sudden brilliance. The Wolves had their young-player shock typical to the third show up in the fourth. And the same things happened as they have been in the third: The offense stops moving the ball around. Andrew Wiggins holds for a very forced and obvious pick and roll while the rest of the team saddles up to watch like the rest of us. Or KAT or Zach Lavine chucks up a rushed, early shot clock three pointer. After those things aren’t effective, the opposition pounces, stripping Wiggins as he holds on to the ball or disrupts telegraphed forced play. And Boston did, trouncing the Wolves 31-12 in the fourth.
At least the Wolves’ woes are trending in the right direction. After learning how to play an even-keeled, consistent game through four quarters, they can then concentrate on a counter attack that involves more than Wiggins hero ball.
- The game started with three consecutive Towns buckets, the first of which showing off his dribbling and mid range finishing touch. The others were KAT just attacking the rim. It’s a wonder most possessions dont start with him simply on the block. Defenses are terrified by it and there are hardly defenders around that can handle him on on one. Boston sent double teams all night.
- Rubio started the game zipping the ball around on the way to his nine assists. He freezes all five on the defense coming off pick and rolls probing for a pass. The first option is typically has space, but the second pass always does. That latter option is Deng, who punished Boston with 20 points.
- Deng and KAT owned the paint through three quarters. Aldrich also did his bit to deter the Celtics from doing much but shoot outside.
- KAT also racked up 18 boards and 27 points. Shabazz Muhammad was quiet, but Nikola Bjelica continued his his confident season, adding 10 off the bench.
- All of that ended the moment the fourth began. These are the games of the Wolves fan’s life the next few seasons. Enjoy the yo-yoing, the rush of little victories like a game where the Wolves won the third quarter.
- Lavine and Bjelica were yo-yoing all over the place. Both would put strings of possessions together of grace and athleticism and sheer boneheadedness. Bjelica would follow a deep bricked three and a driving hook that looked like he was trying to kill a small bird on the side of the backboard with the ball with more attacking (and a nice fake pass-layup finish). Lavine would follow up forced double team attacks with more attacks that resulted to an and-1.
- Wigs hero ball is a sad Jimmy Butler remix right now