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“It was the fourth quarter that the Wolves really dominated, outscoring the Heat 41-22, led by Muhammad and LaVine early, and Andrew Wiggins late. Wiggins, who had his moments throughout the game but didn't shoot it that well, asserted himself in the fourth quarter, getting to the rim and finishing on multiple occasions, and finally forcing the officials to make some calls in his favor. He finished with 24 points on 8-21 shooting while adding three steals, but was the key player down the stretch as the Wolves grabbed control of the game in the last few minutes.”
“Winning when you shoot 37% from the field and 4-21 from three is a bonus, but the Wolves played terrific defense in forcing the Heat into 22 turnovers while only committing eight themselves, won the offensive glass largely behind Towns, and benefitted from some atrocious free throw shooting by the Heat, who went 14-30 from the line.”
“There was a 28-second stretch around the seven-minute mark in the third quarter Tuesday night when Hassan Whiteside blocked Ricky Rubio, Karl-Anthony Towns and Kevin Garnett. The Minnesota Timberwolves, though, kept coming…”
“Despite Whiteside’s best efforts to control the paint — an NBA-season-high 10 blocks and his second career triple-double — Minnesota scored 41 fourth-quarter points and snapped the Miami Heat’s three-game winning streak 103-91 at AmericanAirlines Arena.”
“Towns is already the best player on the team, and if he stays healthy, he should eventually develop into one of the league's top 10 players. He can score in the post, mostly with a bullying right-handed jump hook, and he threads nifty passes above and around help defenders. He slices for dunks on the pick-and-roll, and when the offense requires Towns pop out toward the 3-point arc, he can blaze past bigger defenders with an advanced pump-and-go game.”
“He has a soft jumper, and he'll eventually shoot 3s. ‘We all know I can hit 3s,’ Towns tells ESPN.com. ‘But for now, I'm taking what the defense gives me.’ His inside-out versatility is reminiscent of a younger, turbocharged Al Horford, and like Horford, Towns should be able to play with all sorts of big-man partners. That malleability is both a blessing and a curse for Minnesota. When it comes time to find that partner, they could go with almost anyone -- including a traditional, behemoth center.”
“Consider the Minnesota Timberwolves, an upstart team many criticized for using valuable roster spots on aging veterans Kevin Garnett, Tayshaun Prince, and Andre Miller. To Hinkie and like-minded front office architects, these three players are preventing a team from discovering a star (like the Heat did with Hassan Whiteside) or accumulating pieces that could be swapped for 2nd rounders.”
“But for budding superstars Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins (and for the other youngsters on the 4-6 T'Wolves) these three veterans are invaluable for the experience and basketball intellect they provide. It's like having three more coaches to learn from on the bench, plane, and locker room day in and day out.”
“Towns has repeatedly called Garnett his mentor and praised the former MVP. From NBA.com: ‘He's my mentor,’ said Towns, who spent time with Garnett in Los Angeles last month. ‘Everything he knows, and countless years he's been playing this game at a high level, [I am] just trying to garner information from him every day. Learn how to be a better leader, how to be a champion, just to be a true professional.’”
“… the Wolves have undergone an enormous amount of roster churn during Rubio’s tenure with the franchise. But regardless of the surrounding personnel, the team has always played better with him than without him.
Most obviously, the won-lost record stands at 90-118 when Rubio plays and 27-87 when he is on the sidelines. Crunch the numbers a little and you see that Rubio is a genuine two-way player, almost equally effective on either end of the court.”
“During the 6,611 minutes Rubio has logged as a Timberwolf, the team has scored at a rate of 107.4 points per 100 possessions, which is 4.6 points better than the 102.8 points per 100 possessions they totaled during the 8,946 minutes Rubio was off the court during his career. On defense, the differential is slightly better — the Wolves yield 5.2 fewer points per 100 possessions when Rubio plays (104.6) compared to when he sits (109.8). Put it together and you’ve got Rubio improving the Wolves by a net 9.8 points per 100 possessions thus far over the course of his career. A typical NBA game over that span is close enough to 100 possessions to state that Rubio benefits his team about 9-10 points per game.”
SOOOOOOOOOOOO MANY “WHAT IFS”...
Google image search “magic wolves” if you’re in dire need of a nerd boner…
Florida road trip rolls on tonight in Orlando. Game begins at 6:00 CST because the East Coast kinda sucks. Primer to come. Take care, Wolfpack!