The Minnesota Timberwolves were able to end their four-game losing streak last night at Target Center by defeating the Sacramento Kings 99-95 behind a strong performance from Andrew Wiggins.
A lot of fans and media members alike have been clamoring for Andrew Wiggins to do more besides putting up points.
For the moment, those people have no argument.
Wiggins played quite possibly his best all-around game as a pro, compiling a stat line of 32 points (11/20 FG, 1/3 3pt FG, 9/10 FT), 10 rebounds and 6 assists. He was a force not just on the defensive glass, but also on the offensive glass where his 5 offensive rebounds were the most by any player in the game. The performance was Wiggins’ first double-double of the season.
Before the game, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Tobias Harris were the only players in the past 15 years to record 30 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists at age 20 of younger. I mean, that’s some pretty good company there I guess.
Wiggins also performed another crazy Wiggins highlight tonight, this time on a putback slam off a miss by Kevin Martin.
Per the norm, the Wolves got off to a great start, as their lead was 14 points at one point in the first quarter and 7 at the end of the quarter (31-24). Following the early lead, the Wolves stuck to the script of most of their games this season in that they gave up that lead to Sacramento by halftime.
Minnesota took a 58-54 lead into the half, but came out strong in the third quarter quickly increasing its lead back to 10 points.
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The Kings fought their way back once again in the fourth quarter, regaining a 90-89 lead with just over three minutes remaining in the game. Wiggins followed that with four straight points and added two more in free throws down the stretch to finish Sacramento.
Shabazz Muhammad again provided that Energizer bunny spark off the bench, tallying 16 points (7/13 FG, 2/4 3pt FG) and 7 rebounds in 27 minutes of action. The case for him to play more minutes gets stronger every night.
Oh, and Bazz also did his own cool putback dunk thing (which made SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays at number 8, by the way). Between the putback slams by both Muhammad and Wiggins, this rim might be a bit sore in the morning.
After a near-quadruple double against the Knicks on Wednesday, Ricky Rubio continued his strong play with 12 points (3/10 FG, 2/6 3pt FG, 4/4 FT), 7 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 steals. Karl-Anthony Towns fought foul trouble all night but was still able to record 15 points (6/11 FG, 1/1 3pt FG, 2/2 FT) and 8 rebounds in just 24 minutes of action. Towns also found himself on the highlight reel with a phenomenal dipsy-do right around Demarcus Cousins. Also, it’s with the left hand. ALSO, he’s 20.
Sacramento was led by Cousins, who tallied 24 points (11/25 FG, 2/3 FT), 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. While Towns dealt with foul trouble, Cousins had his way much of the night when Gorgui Dieng was defending him. Although I will add that Dieng did force Cousins to take some pretty tough shots, so Dieng’s performance is respectable in that regard (along with his 11 rebounds).
Rudy Gay, who struggled mightily during the last meeting between these two teams with Wiggins defending him, found more success this time. He chipped in 20 points (8/18 FG, 2/6 3pt FG, 2/2 FT) and 5 rebounds while Rajon Rondo put up a typical Rondo stat line with 11 points (4/8 FG, 3/4 FT), 13 assists and 3 steals.
This is definitely a good win for the Wolves after having dropped eight of nine games coming in. Whether this sparks a little run is yet to be seen, but it’s good to see this young team pull off a win late in a game after struggling with that all too often lately.
- Tayshaun Prince got the start tonight in place of Martin, and despite a pretty underwhelming stat line, the man executes his role very well. His veteran leadership really is invaluable to the team when he’s on the floor. It’s no coincidence that his +/- numbers are generally pretty good night in and night out.
- Something’s up with Nemanja Bjelica, and it’s a shame because he could be a big help for this team. His ability to stretch the floor offensively could exponentially help this team, so here’s to hoping Bjelly can end that slump soon enough.
- Zach LaVine had one of his poorer games in recent memory, but that’ll happen with him. He’s been playing very well all year, exceeding nearly everyone’s expectations, so I won’t fault him for it too much, especially since the Wolves earned the W. (For the record, if the Wolves had lost, I probably would be all over LaVine’s case).
- Martin played 16 minutes tonight off the bench, but it certainly wasn’t a very good display for his trade value. He was lost and took a ton of questionable shots, resulting in a team-worst -10 on the night.
- I guess I better end with something positive, so here. Wiggins played like a superstar tonight on both ends of the floor. Moreover, he carries himself like a superstar and sure seems to have the mentality of a superstar. We can’t ask him to play like this every game (because, I mean, he’s only 20), but it would certainly be nice to see these kind of games once in a while.
The Minnesota Timberwolves will next take the court this Sunday at noon in a matinee game with the Brooklyn Nets in what will presumably be Kevin Garnett’s first game action against his former team (he was inactive in the matchup last season).
Stay tuned to Sporting Sota for news and analysis on all things Minnesota sports.