The young Wolves, hot under the collar after winning eight of their previous 11 games, got run over by a buzzsaw tonight. The Love-less Cavs (isn’t that so poetic?) coming into tonight had lost eight of their last 14, and Angry LeBron, fresh off a very entertaining media circus, was in the building from the get-go. He proceeded to put up his customary 27-8-12 assist night on 11-14 shooting. Kyrie, who was bothered by Rubio much of the night, seemed to be trying to prove to LeBron (perhaps to himself?) that they don’t need another playmaker as long as he’s there, finishing the night with a career-high 14 assists to offset his mere 14 points.
Towns started out hot tonight, scoring eight points in the first three minutes including a pair of beautiful dunks and that smooth turnaround J he loves so much. It’s been well-documented how much Andrew Wiggins likes playing against his team (more on that later), but tonight it took him a little while to rev his engine up, scoring just four points in the first quarter, though he finished the half with 14 points to compliment Towns’ 15. Rubio, continuing his streak of stellar play, had nine assists in the first half, and the Wolves went into the break only down 63-60.
The third quarter started out ugly with the two teams combining to miss 15 million shots in the first two minutes (don’t fact-check that), but once the baskets started falling, things only got worse for the poor Wolves. LeBron and Kyrie picked apart the lackadaisical T-Wolves defense, pushing the lead all the way to 20 at one point late in the third. The Wolves offered but the slightest resistance the rest of the way.
Thoughts and Musings
- As I mentioned above, everyone knows how well Wiggins has historically played against the team that drafted him, and that’s true to a certain extent. Coming into today’s contest, the 28.8 points Wiggins has averaged against the Cavs for his career is his personal best against any team. But he also averages his personal worst in rebounds (1.5) and second-worst in assists (1.8), and that held pretty true tonight. 23 points (9-17 shooting), two rebounds, no assists, steals or blocks.
- Zach LaVine has really struggled since returning from injury. He’s scored 20 or more just twice since hitting 24 against Utah on January 7th, and he looks like he has no confidence in his shot. Unlike some of our more resolute neophytes (but somewhat like Wiggins), when LaVine is missing his shot, the rest of his game really tumbles off the edge. They need him to get back to his swaggery, splashy ways if they’re serious about making this run at the 8th seed.
- Ho hum, another day, another 26-12-4-2 block night for Towns, who has been an absolute superstar for the last couple months. So consistent, so reliable. His defense still comes and goes (he still gets lost off-ball WAY more than he should) but with Wiggins and LaVine’s up and down play, his consistency is huge.
- Like Towns, Rubio has been an absolute stud. After a career-high six threes last night, Rubio nearly matched Kyrie exactly with 14 points and 13 assists.
- Shabazz had another good energizer bunny night off the bench, as did Bjelica, but other than those two, the Minnesota reserves were complete ghosts. Zero combined points for Dunn, Aldrich, Jones, and Payne in a combined 18 minutes.
- Kris Dunn’s stat line tonight: 0 points 0-0 shooting 0 rebounds 0 assists 0 steals 0 blocks 3 turnovers 1 foul, -13 +/-. Sweet.
Hopefully no one reading this actually expected the Wolves to win tonight, so no one was disappointed. Anyway, shake it off! We got Detroit coming up in a couple days, let’s show Reggie Jackson why we don’t need him!